February 22, 2024

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Apple’s smart speakers have always been stronger in the speaker component than in the smart component — at least compared to competitors. But the rumors that Apple is overhauling its smart home strategy are back, now with references to homeOS found in the developer beta version of tvOS 17.4.

We first saw the term homeOS, which is not currently one of Apple’s operating systems, back in 2021, when it was mentioned alongside iOS, WatchOS, and tvOS in a couple of job postings. Naturally, as soon as this was reported in the news, Apple removed homeOS from the job listings.

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The exact purpose of homeOS remains unclear, but the consensus is that it must refer to new efforts to revamp the Apple smart home experience. We’re unsure whether homeOS would be a way to rebrand the HomePod’s operating system, which is currently powered by a simpler version of tvOS, or linked to Apple’s HomeKit. 

Reports suggest Apple might expand its line of smart home products beyond the existing HomePod and HomePod Mini. Rumors starting in 2021 and resurfacing as late as 2023 suggest Apple may be working on a new device entirely that combines the HomePod and a touch display, like an Echo Show 10

These rumors aren’t unfounded: Evidence of Apple testing tvOS 17 on an iPad Mini as part of a screen-equipped HomePod project was found last year and reported by 9to5Mac.

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If Apple is working on such a device with homeOS implementation, we’d expect the announcement during its annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), which typically takes place in June. I can tell you this — if the company is working on this type of Echo-Show-like device, I just hope it also makes improvements to Siri.