HomePod isn’t a TV but it might run tvOS | Cult of Mac

HomePod isn’t a TV but it might run tvOS

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HomePod in China
There supposedly was a big change to HomePod that no one outside Apple knew about.
Photo: Apple

Since a system software update released in March, Apple’s HomePod smart speaker reportedly runs a version of tvOS, the operating system for Apple TV. The change might make it simpler to update this device, and support older hardware for longer.

HomePod now runs an offshoot of tvOS

HomePod users probably didn’t noticed anything different about their smart speaker with the release of HomePod Software 13.4 on March 24, but there are supposedly a huge change behind the scenes. 9to5Mac analyzed this update and says the software is based on tvOS instead of iOS.

The situation is somewhat confused by the fact that tvOS is itself based on iOS. But Apple supposedly simplified the job of adapting its iPhone operating system to HomePod and Apple TV by having them both use the same alternative version, tvOS.

These two devices are inherently similar. They’re multimedia players with HomeKit and AirPlay support. Neither needs a battery.

This move might also be about hardware compatibility. The current HomePod and the fourth-generation Apple TV both use an Apple A8 processor from 2014. Even if Apple soon stops offering software updates for iPhone and iPad models based on this obsolete chip, it’ll need to continue to support the A8 for its smart speaker, and probably for the settop box too.

2020 could be a big year for Apple’s smart speaker

The original HomePod debuted in 2018, and there hasn’t yet been a follow up. That could change in 2020, though. Numerous unconfirmed reports point to Apple working on a smaller version for release later this year.

It’s possible this won’t replace the current model. It’ll be a cheaper alternative instead. The current version sells for $299, far more than many rivals, which has limited its potential market.