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Testers unearth touchscreen UI in tvOS beta, signs point to a touchscreen HomePod

A screenshot of tvOS 17. Recent betas have included evidence that Apple is working on a touchscreen-enabled version of the interface.

Enlarge / A screenshot of tvOS 17. Recent betas have included evidence that Apple is working on a touchscreen-enabled version of the interface. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple’s tvOS betas are usually among its least exciting; the Apple TV’s operating system has changed so little in the last decade that the most exciting thing to happen to it in recent memory is an extra column of icons.

But this week’s tvOS 18 beta 3 release includes a hidden feature that might be exciting for smart speaker enthusiasts, if not for people who still want their Apple TV boxes to develop exciting new capabilities. 9to5Mac has discovered a touchscreen interface (codenamed “PlasterBoard”) inside of the latest beta, a sign that Apple is testing alternate input mechanisms for software that is currently manipulated via remote control and voice.

Last week, MacRumors also discovered a reference to a device called “HomeAccessory17,1” in Apple’s beta software, a naming convention similar to the “AudioAccessory” device identifiers that Apple uses for HomePod speakers. Together, these developments suggest that Apple is working on a version of the HomePod with an integrated touchscreen, a device that rumors have suggested could launch in 2024 or 2025. The company has reportedly been working on a smart home device with a screen since at least 2021.

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