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The hidden touchscreen interface in tvOS 18 hints at a future HomePod with a screen

2024 July 9
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A hidden touchscreen interface called “PlasterBoard” likely destined for a future HomePod with a built-in screen has been found in the tvOS 18 code.

9to5Mac discovered references to a new interface dubbed “PlasterBoard” in the third beta of tvOS 18, which was released yesterday. In its current form, the hidden interface only includes a basic Lock Screen with a passcode keypad and nothing else, suggesting the feature is still in the early stages of development.

tvOS powers both the Apple TV streaming box and the HomePod smart speaker, so how do we know this touchscreen-ready interface is for a future HomePod?

tvOS 18’s PlasterBoard interface could be for a screen-equipped HomePod

Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac:

Code and how the interface behaves strongly suggest that it was made for touchscreens and not for regular TVs. It’s also worth noting that there’s no option to lock Apple TV with a passcode, which only makes sense for more personal devices.

The very PlasterBoard name speaks to the significance of this leak because it’s in line with Apple’s internal names for its other user interfaces.

  • SpringBoard for iOS and iPadOS
  • PineBoard for tvOS
  • SoundBoard for ‌HomePod‌
  • SurfBoard for visionOS

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple could release a HomePod‌ codenamed B720 with a curved seven-inch LED touchscreen at the top to display content like album art later in 2024. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, however, is adamant that a screen-equipped HomePod won’t arrive until 2025 at the earliest.

A tabletop robot and other projects

For what it’s worth, the recently discovered code strings on Apple’s servers include identifiers for an unreleased “HomeAccessory17,1” device that should run the tvOS software and be powered by a future Apple chip.

Since shuttering its electric car project, Apple’s next projects allegedly include an AI-powered tabletop robot with a screen and a smart soundbar with a FaceTime camera that would combine HomePod and Apple TV functionality.

The Cupertino tech giant could also be working on an autonomous robot capable of performing repetitive or tedious tasks to automate household chores.

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