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This mysterious AI-powered device might be Apple’s most exciting new release of 2024

Fans of the Apple TV hardware still have to wait for an upgrade, and if you think you’re getting a TV box that can support Apple Intelligence, you might want to prepare for a potential letdown. While rumors say Apple is going to release an Apple TV model this year, one that could always rock a chip capable of Apple AI, it’s unclear whether any of that will happen.

More interesting is a discovery in code that indicates Apple is working on a “HomeAccessory” device that might run on the same chipset as the iPhone 16 series. Those chips are surely going to run Apple Intelligence better than anything before them. And we had plenty of rumors recently that seemed to confirm the existence of the A18 and A18 Pro chips.

The rumored Home Accessory product isn’t necessarily a HomePod. It’s certainly not an Apple TV. Interestingly, it appears to run a variant of tvOS. Are we looking at an iPad-like home robot that can follow you around the home or desk? Probably not.

According to MacRumors, Apple is working on a “HomeAccessory17,1” device. The name is similar to the AudioAccessory identifier that Apple has used before.

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The exciting detail in the new codename is the “17,1” number. That’s the expected codename for the A18 chips coming to the iPhone this year. Leaks already showed Apple might be working on five iPhones with A18 chips, prompting me to speculate that the iPhone SE 4 might get one and Apple Intelligence along with it.

The blog says the software is a variant of tvOS, similar to the HomePod. Rumors earlier this year said that Apple might be working on a HomePod with a touchscreen display at the top. This seems like the most likely device to get that new Home Accessory moniker.

So, what’s the deal with Apple robots? Well, Mark Gurman offered this tidbit in a report that preceded the WWDC event:

Similarly, a Siri revamp that’s underway could be at the core of Apple’s future table-top robot, which is essentially a large iPad display that can move around to mimic the head motions of a human. That device will be primarily controlled by voice — and having a more precise and sophisticated version of Siri will be invaluable.

A large iPad robot for the home or desk would be an even more exciting development for this Home Accessory device. But that seems unlikely for the time being. That device would probably have to run a version of iOS rather than tvOS.

Also, Siri might be getting exciting AI powers via iOS 18. But it won’t happen anytime soon, and the Siri AI experience will still be labeled a beta. Any iPad robot product would probably not be ready for market in the near future.

I’ll also point out a late February report from Gurman that mentioned a HomePod with a screen product that’s coming in 2025. It’s unclear if this device is actually the iPad robot he talked about last month. Maybe it’s a precursor? 

On the other hand, a HomePod with a circular touchscreen on top, ready to support Apple Intelligence might be possible.

Back to the code findings, the blog mentions two unreleased Apple TV models spotted in the same code. That’s AppleTV14,4 and AppleTV14,5. Those codenames suggest the 2024 Apple TV might get the same A15 Bionic chip as the 2022 models. And that iPhone chip isn’t good for Apple Intelligence. You need an A17 Pro or later to get Apple’s AI on iPhones.

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