Apple appears to be working on a new operating system called homeOS, and while we don’t know exactly what products will run it, given the name it looks like Apple could be planning a revamp of its smart home ecosystem.
MacRumors has discovered a few references to ‘homeOS’ in the latest developer beta of tvOS 17.4. Those references don’t include any clues as to what the OS is capable of, but given that the name is appearing in code for other operating systems it’s likely that Apple is testing its compatibility ahead of a planned launch.
As always, until Apple officially announces homeOS there’s no guarantee we’ll see it released publicly, and even if a smart home revamp is on the horizon, Apple could call the operating system something else; ahead of the Vision Pro launch Apple looked set to call its software xrOS or realityOS – even trademarking these names – before settling on VisionOS.
That said, this isn’t Apple’s first official reference to homeOS. The name first appeared in job listings the company posted back in 2021, before those were altered after ‘homeOS’ was spotted by reporters.
A new home for Apple tech?
Currently, Apple has two smart home product lines – its HomePod and HomePod mini smart speakers – that use its HomeKit smart home network and the Matter standard. In our Apple HomePod 2 review, we commended the most recent release’s sound quality, but its lack of Bluetooth support and Siri’s limited usefulness make it tough to recommend as a smart speaker for a household not filled with Apple tech.
Rumors suggest that Apple could be planning to launch a third HomePod model with a screen, either releasing a standalone product, or enabling users to attach an iPad mini to their HomePod. With the scope of its smart home tech evolving, it would make sense that Apple would want to introduce a new operating system to unify its products, rather than continuing to use a modified tvOS for HomePod as it currently does.
If a new HomePod is on the way there’s no telling when or how Apple might announce it – the HomePod 2 was surprisingly announced via a press release, rather than on-stage at an event like most Apple products. But if new software is coming then we might see it announced at this year’s WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, which usually takes place in June.
This would give software developers the chance to find out more about the new operating system, so that they could potentially start working on apps for it. We’ll have to wait and see if the announcement is made at WWDC 2024, or another event.
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