A most peculiar OS: Apple’s cryptic 'homeOS' appears in tvOS 17.4 beta

HomePods 2023
(Image credit: Future/ iMore)

Earlier this month, When Apple released its first beta of tvOS 17.4, there were references to "homeOS," which, at the moment, still doesn’t refer to an official Apple operating system or anything else.  

According to Macrumors, which first found the references, Apple appears to have included "homeOS," in the code for this most recent tvOS beta update, which was released several days ago. So, it seems that Apple is continuing to work on the mysterious OS "behind the scenes."     

There has been a lot of buzz and speculation about what it might be. At the very least, many are speculating that Apple is looking to be a larger presence in the smart-home market, beyond products like the HomePod and HomePod Mini.

What, if anything, will homeOS turn out to be?

For instance, Apple is reportedly working on a lineup of smart displays, which could compete with Google and Amazon in the smart-home market. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, "the push into smart displays will start with a tablet product — essentially a low-end iPad — that can control things like thermostats and lights, show video and handle FaceTime chats, people with knowledge of the plans said."

That could mean that Apple is looking to sell smart-home displays, which are similar in design to Google's Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max and Amazon's Echo Show lineup. 

But Apple could go a step further as far as portability goes. According to Gurman, "the product could be mounted on walls or elsewhere using magnetic fasteners, positioning it as more of a home gadget than a regular iPad."

It’s not the first time Apple has made a reference to 'homeOS.' In November 2021, we posted a story about how a new Apple job listing had mentioned the unannounced software in a job posting for a senior iOS UI engineer position associated with Apple Music. (Apple had done so earlier in 2021, as well.) In both cases, Apple ended up removing the reference to the outed software.

Terry Sullivan

Terry Sullivan has tested and reported on many different types of consumer electronics and technology services, including cameras, action cams, mobile devices, streaming music services, wireless speakers, headphones, smart-home devices, and mobile apps. He has also written extensively on various trends in the worlds of technology, multimedia, and the arts. For more than 10 years, his articles and blog posts have appeared in a variety of publications and websites, including The New York Times, Consumer Reports, PCMag, Worth magazine, Popular Science, Tom’s Guide, and Artnews. He is also a musician, photographer, artist, and teacher.