White HomePod on a dresserSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple has changed the software on the HomePod.
  • The device is now based on tvOS instead of iOS.
  • This could indicate new features or a solution to compatibility problems.

Last month, Apple released a new update to the software for the HomePod. Version 13.4 did not bring any new features for users but has now been discovered as a major change for how Apple views the device.

A new report from 9to5Mac details that the HomePod's operating system, as of the 13.4 updates, is now based off of tvOS instead of iOS. Since its launch, the HomePod had always been based on iOS, so this change could signal a number of changes coming to the HomePod in the future.

One potential reason for the change could be more about ensuring compatibility than any new features. With the anticipated announcement of iOS 14 at WWDC in June, Apple is expected to drop support for iOS devices with the A8 chip. The current generation of the HomePod uses the A8 processor, so Apple's decision to move the speaker to tvOS ensures that the device will still be compatible with future versions of its software.

Another reason could be that the HomePod and Apple TV both serve as a hub for HomeKit. The company's tvOS devices also have different power needs than iOS devices. The change may bring the HomePod and Apple TV closer to how the two devices work together.

The change may also indicate Apple's way of preparing the operating system for a new generation of HomePod. A HomePod Mini has consistently been reported to be in the works, and 9to5Mac has found a reference to two new HomePod models in the HomePod Software 13.4 code.

While no other details as to what Apple intends with the change, it will be interesting to see what this shift may bring to the current and future generation of Apple's smart speaker.