Apple has always been modest in its hardware upgrades to the point that some critics even consider it stingy. The company doesn’t change its formula too often, but when it does, it definitely creates a lot of noise. In light of that, it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are periods of time when new Apple devices sound close to boring. It seems that the company will be entering into such a period with some of its accessories, balancing out the excitement generated by the new M2 MacBook Air and iPadOS 16.
That could spell some trouble for Apple’s smart home ecosystem, especially with the HomePod smart speakers getting a bit long in the tooth — especially considering how late the product’s arrival was in the first place. As well, at least based on a new leak, it seems the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 may not be as exciting of an update as some fans have hoped for, at least when it comes to hardware performance.
Apple revealed the existence of the HomePod in mid-2017, but it took almost a year before it finally launched the product. The company’s first smart speaker had a mixed reception, which wasn’t too surprising considering how far Apple had allowed rivals like Amazon and Google to take the lead in this lucrative market. The original HomePod was also quickly discontinued in 2021 and replaced by the smaller HomePod Mini that launched in 2020. Since then, there has been no word on any new speaker, at least until now.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims a new HomePod is coming next year, and its biggest change will reportedly be an upcoming Apple S8 processor (via 9to5Mac). This is the same silicon that will power the Apple Watch Series 8 and is an upgrade over the Apple S5 found on the HomePod Mini. While there will likely be some other upgrades over the original, larger HomePod, including the possibility of multi-touch control, the tech journalist says the size and audio performance will be nearly the same as the original. While the HomePod is no slouch in that regard, it’s still a bit disappointing that Apple might not give the HomePod 2 an overdue audio upgrade.
Apple Watch Series 8
In the same vein, Gurman doesn’t have encouraging news regarding Apple’s next batch of smartwatches. The Apple Watch Series 8 coming later this year, for example, will reportedly be packing the aforementioned Apple S8 processor, but that is said to have the same specifications as the current Apple S7 chip. Making matters a bit worse is the fact that the Apple S7 is practically identical to the Apple S6 inside the Apple Watch Series 6 from 2020. Granted, none of those Apple Watches performed poorly, but it is again disheartening that there is very little progress on this front — assuming the leak is accurate, of course.
The theme continues with the Apple Watch SE 2, which according to Gurman, will stick to the same display size as its predecessor. That means it won’t be following the footsteps of the incumbent Apple Watch Series 7, which introduced a larger screen while retaining nearly the same physical dimensions. This second-gen Apple Watch SE will take the place of the Apple Watch 3 when the latter gets discontinued later this year, becoming the new mid-tier option for Apple wearables.