There have been multiple rumors about Apple’s work on various Apple TV and HomePod hybrid devices with a touchscreen over the last few years, and new findings in the tvOS 18 update further hint at the development that Apple is doing in the home space.

A unique touchscreen interface was allegedly found buried in tvOS 18 beta 3 by 9to5Mac, and the finding is actually relevant to the ‌HomePod‌ because the ‌HomePod‌’s software is an offshoot of the tvOS software. The interface is called “PlasterBoard” internally, and PlasterBoard is in line with the naming for other Apple interfaces, which include SpringBoard for iOS and iPadOS, PineBoard for tvOS, SoundBoard for ‌HomePod‌, and SurfBoard for visionOS. The interface appears to feature just a Lock Screen with a touch-based keyboard for entering passcodes as of right now, with little else discovered about it.

The ‌Apple TV‌ does not include an option for locking it with a passcode, nor does the ‌HomePod‌ because as of right now, the ‌HomePod‌ only supports simple control gestures. The design that was found in the beta closely resembles the on-screen keypad that you see on an iPhone or an iPad.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is working on several home control devices, and the mix of rumors we’ve heard indicate that multiple development paths and prototypes are being explored. There have been rumors of a simple ‌HomePod‌ with a touch display at the top, a hybrid ‌HomePod‌ and Apple TV device with a camera, a ‌HomePod‌ with a screen and a camera, and an iPad/HomePod sort of combo that works as a centralized home hub.

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A standard ‌HomePod‌ with an LED touch-based display at the top of the device could potentially be the first HomePod and display combo that we see. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said a HomePod with 7-inch display would launch at some point in 2024, and there have been leaked prototype images.

Last week, MacRumors found code referencing a “Home Accessory” device with a HomeAccessory17,1 identifier. No existing ‌HomePod‌ or ‌Apple TV‌ devices use the HomeAccessory identifier, but it is similar to the AudioAccessory identifier that Apple uses internally for the ‌HomePod‌. Based on the numbering, this upcoming device is equipped with the same A18 chip we expect to see in the iPhone 16 lineup.

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