There is absolutely no shortage of rumors and leaks when it comes to Apple products, and the HomePod is no different. The tech giant released the HomePod in 2018 and it was the company’s first attempt at creating a smart speaker. Despite the underwhelming sales of the device, the company is rumored to be working on an updated version, HomePod 2, which may feature Face ID, according to a report from Forbes.
An Apple patent application, which was initially spotted by MacRumors, is the evidence being used to back this new leak. While the patent did not identify the smart speaker by name, it does describe a voice-controlled assistant device such as a “countertop speaker” with a number of embedded sensors and cameras that will be used to recognize “hand gestures and other three-dimensional gesture input.” This could mean users may be able to control the HomePod by waving or clapping their hands.
As for the rumored Face ID feature, the patent explains that the HomePod could possibly be able to identify and acknowledge users close to the smart speaker using “facial recognition.” The new sensors could also allow the HomePod to measure the distance of the user from the device. Face ID will likely push the smart speaker closer to multiple user profiles.
David Ho, the president of Apple supplier Inventec, previously said his company has been noticing a trend toward both facial and image recognition technology being implemented into smart speakers. However, he didn’t get into details, nor did he share which speakers in particular.
“We see trends that engineers are designing smart speakers that will not only come with voice recognition but also incorporate features such as facial and image recognition,” Ho told reporters, according to a report from MacRumors.
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Apple's HomePod is out today, but is it worth $349? The Siri-enabled device is all about the music first, and about smart assistant stuff second. The HomePod isn’t just one speaker, it’s actually eight of them, all controlled by Apple’s own A8 processor and tons of custom software. The HomePod’s power cord is built in and wrapped in fabric, and on top, there are LED-backlit volume buttons and a display that acts more as a touch surface. However, Siri just can’t do nearly as many tasks as Alexa or Google Assistant. And the HomePod is tightly locked inside Apple’s ecosystem. It’s tied more closely to a single iPhone and iCloud account than any other smart speaker. Despite all of this, it is, by all accounts, a superb speaker for its size. ???? @happicamp
And Apple analyst Jeff Pu has also predicted the possible launch of a Face ID-enabled HomePod in 2019.
The multi-page patent went on to describe many other possible features that could be added to Apple’s smart speaker, including “ambient light sensing, displaying a sunshine icon if sunny weather is forecast, displaying the logo of a sports team that wins a game, and heart rate sensing.”
The patent application was reportedly filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July, 2017, which was six months prior to the launch of the first HomePod speaker. However, it wasn’t made public until late January due to an 18-month confidentiality period, which is standard for patents.