HomePod Operating System Now Based on tvOS Instead of iOS Amid Rumors of Smaller HomePod

Apple in March released new 13.4 software designed for the HomePod, alongside of the release of iOS 13.4 and tvOS 13.4. 9to5Mac recently looked at the ‌HomePod‌ code and says that Apple made a curious change with the new software -- the ‌HomePod‌ operating system is now based on tvOS instead of iOS.


watchOS, tvOS, and the software that run on the ‌HomePod‌ are all variants of iOS, but each one is differentiated by tweaks made for the device the software is intended to run on, featuring unique interfaces, APIs, and more.

Unlike prior versions of the ‌HomePod‌ software, which were based on the operating system found on the iPhone and iPad, the ‌HomePod‌'s software is now derived from tvOS. Because the operating systems are the same at the core, this hasn't resulted in any fundamental changes to the way that the ‌HomePod‌ works.

9to5Mac believes that shifting the ‌HomePod‌ software to a tvOS base has the potential to save Apple some work, as both the Apple TV and the ‌HomePod‌ are always-on devices that are plugged in to power and won't need the same optimizations as versions of iOS. Both devices also operate as a Home hub for HomeKit, which may also be a key reason why the two now share code.

It's also possible that iOS 14 will end support for devices with the A8 chip, such as the ‌iPad‌ Air 2 and the ‌iPad‌ mini 4, and the ‌HomePod‌ is equipped with an A8 chip. Due to the possible end of support in ‌iOS 14‌, swapping over to a tvOS base will allow Apple to keep pushing ‌HomePod‌ updates for the foreseeable future.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is developing a new smaller version of the ‌HomePod‌ that's more affordable, which is set to launch in 2020, and that's another possible reason for the code shift. 9to5Mac says that there are two new models of the ‌HomePod‌ referenced in iOS 13.4, though there is no additional information about them.

Just this morning, a Bloomberg report said that Apple is working on a new HomePod speaker that will be about half the size of the original, while maintaining the same design. Though it has faced delays, Apple is planning to launch the new ‌HomePod‌ in the second half of the year. It will feature a lower price the current ‌HomePod‌, helping Apple compete with cheaper speaker options from companies like Amazon and Google.

On a separate but related note, 9to5Mac says that a "trusted source" has said that the next-generation ‌Apple TV‌ that's been rumored for months now could be equipped with the same A14 chip that Apple is planning to use in the iPhone 12, which suggests a fall launch for the device. Both a new ‌Apple TV‌ and an updated ‌HomePod‌ could perhaps see similar launch dates this September or October, but there's no concrete word on launch timing for either product.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
22 weeks ago


maybe this new HomePod will be the new appletv, a smaller HomePod with an HDMI in the back of it

They could make one of those sound bars for your tv that also doubles as a HomePod and atv.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
maybe this new HomePod will be the new appletv, a smaller HomePod with an HDMI in the back of it
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
Seems like "HomeOS" (or "homeOS") would make more sense as a name in that case. The OS that powers your home devices, Apple TV and HomePod.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
An Apple TV/HomePod combo device down the road could definitely be interesting. The speaker can display output on the TV and serve as speakers for the TV as well.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
Soundbar with HomePod sound quality and built in Apple TV functionality?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
I've always suspected that the HomePod would be the replacement for the AppleTV.

"AppleTV" as a name brand has moved to being software; the AppleTV app is just called "Apple TV" and Apple has moved to have it become ubiquitous on all platforms, on all TVs and TV boxes. There's currently a confusion when talking about "Apple TV" because it could both mean the app or the box. I believe that Apple is in the process of cleaning that up.

This is why I feel that the Apple TV (the box) will be phased out. In its place, you'll have HomePods as the centre of the home, not just for audio but for your TV and in your interaction with your entire home through Siri and HomeKit.

Apple has been working with TV manufactures to build AirPlay 2 into all TVs. This will play a central role in Apple's TV strategy going forward. Rather than an Apple TV box, you'll either simply AirPlay content from the Apple TV app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac to your TV directly, you'll use the Apple TV app built into every TV going froward or for the true Apple living room experience, you'll have a HomePod that will run tvOS and will AirPlay the video (both UI and content) to your TV.

The two missing components: first a remote for HomePod and second, an AirPlay Stick to enable AirPlay on all TVs that don't yet have it. This AirPlay stick would replace the tvOS Home screen with the Apple TV app home screen, which Apple has been moving to anyway.

Apps on tvOS has turned out to be a failed experiment. Most of the successful apps on Apple TV are simply content apps, that would better function as an Apple TV channel, rather than a self contained app with its own user interface. I think Apple will push towards that but first they'll have to win over Netflix and Disney both of which have wanted their own self contained apps.

I believe we'll see a big shift in the way that Apple deals with TV. First, they launched the content platform and now I think we'll see them move around the pieces in hardware, in which the new HomePod will play a central role.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

Bloomberg: Apple Watch Series 6 With SpO2 Tracking and All-Screen iPad Air Coming at 'Time Flies' Event, Apple Silicon Macs by November

Monday September 14, 2020 5:20 am PDT by
Apple is set to host a virtual event on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, and ahead of time, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has outlined his expectations for new product announcements both tomorrow and in the months to follow. Gurman, who has a very strong track record, reiterated that this Tuesday's event will be focused on the introduction of new Apple Watch Series 6 and iPad Air models, adding...

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 Will Be Released September 16

Tuesday September 15, 2020 11:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 will be officially released on Wednesday, September 16. Apple has seeded the final Golden Master beta versions of each update to developers in advance. ‌iOS 14‌ and iPadOS 14 introduce dozens of new features, including a redesigned Home Screen that supports widgets on the iPhone and iPad for the first time. For more...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Full Transcript of Apple's 'Time Flies' Event With Apple Watch and iPad Updates

Tuesday September 15, 2020 8:46 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Time Flies" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut new Apple Watch and iPad models, but it appears we may not see the iPhone 12 until next month. While we're not expecting to see new iPhones today, Apple's software updates for its various platforms are likely nearly ready for launch, so we may be hearing more about them today. Check...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Everything Apple Announced at Today's iPad and Apple Watch Event in Just Seven Minutes

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:19 pm PDT by
Apple today held its annual September event, but this year was a bit different because no new iPhones were announced. The "Time Flies" event focused on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air, and saw the debut of a new Apple One services bundle. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce the new devices, but we've recapped the event in...