Apple has already leaked a massive iPhone upgrade and now the company has given away another surprising update in its new iOS 16 beta iPhone release.

Digging by 9to5Mac has uncovered code references to a next-generation HomePod, just one year after Apple unceremoniously cancelled its premium smart speaker. And its release could be just a few months away.

The giveaway term 9to5Mac discovered in the first iOS 16 beta release is ‘AudioAccessory6’. While seemingly generic, Apple refers to the HomePod Mini as ‘AudioAccessory5’ while the original Homepod is ‘AudioAccessory1’. Moreover, acclaimed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo then filled in the gaps.

Responding to the code discovery, Kuo said he understands that “the new HomePod is like a minor-improvement version of the original/bigger HomePod.”

This is eye-opening for two reasons. First, the HomePod Mini is over 18 months old and represented 91% of Apple’s smart speaker sales by Q1 2021 (the original HomePod being cancelled in mid-March), which suggests updating it would be the company’s priority. Second, Siri responses seemingly leaked a more ambitious next-gen HomePod with display earlier this year.

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As such, it is unclear how minor improvements to the original HomePod would change its fortunes. That said, we might not have long to wait to find out. 9to5Mac says that the codes it discovered “make it clear that iOS 16 is ready to support a new HomePod model.” This means we could see it as soon as September, when iOS 16 will debut alongside Apple’s new iPhone 14 range.

And I would expect further information before then. Apple has a long history of iOS code leaks which have flagged upcoming products and features, so it seems reasonable to find further operational details in future iOS 16 beta releases. After all, the software has already teased potential iPhone 14 features.

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