Apple's HomePod smart speaker has some hidden features, according to a developer.
Last week, Apple made the HomePod's software code publicly available, allowing anyone with some knowledge of applications the opportunity to unpack it and see what features the device might offer. Steve Troughton-Smith did just that, and discovered that the device is running a full version of Apple's iOS mobile operating system. That suggests that the HomePod could technically come with all of the features offered in an iPhone or iPad.
Digging a bit deeper, Troughton-Smith, whose discoveries were earlier reported on by Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac, found that the HomePod will not support third-party apps. The feature could be supported in the future by turning on support through the software, but according to the developer, Apple is currently only limiting the HomePod's features to those it's developed.
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Apple unveiled the HomePod at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last month. The HomePod is a speaker featuring a cylindrical design that also comes with a microphone. It's powered by Apple's virtual personal assistant Siri, which can be used to turn on music and control certain smart home devices, like a Wi-Fi-connected thermostat. It's slated to launch in December for $349.
After WWDC last month, Apple (aapl) let journalists touch and take pictures of the HomePod. And while the device's functionality is generally straightforward, there's an LED light at the top that Apple hasn't said much about. In its unveiling, Apple only suggested that the LED light is there to tell users Siri is activated. It can also be used to adjust audio volume.
In the firmware code, Troughton-Smith found that the area at the top is made up of several LED lights, suggesting it could act as a quasi-screen, giving users more information than simple volume controls.
Apple hasn't commented further on the HomePod and its features and likely will not until it gets closer to the device's release later this year.