Apple prepares homeOS: it’s the operating system for the Smart Home

A mysterious homeOS peeped out by mistake in a recent version of Apple Music: possible new operating system for the Smart Home.

Five operating systems: if there was a recognition Apple would already have it on the bulletin board. iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS and macOS. The first two are quite similar and some, forcing, might consider them identical. There would be four of them, but they would still be a lot if you consider the work needed to develop and update them consistently.

But Apple has shown so far that it does not suffer the presence of all these operating systems for its products despite the rest of the technological landscape is rowing in the opposite direction. Google and Microsoft, for example, have long been pushing the idea of a single operating system, but one that is multiplatform, which can be adapted to multiple devices even with different form factors. Apple, instead, could soon present the sixth one, or simply would be ready to a rebranding operation for one of the five existing ones in homeOS, even if it is probable that in its heart also Apple cultivates the ambition, at medium-long range, to unify a bit everything. The landing of Apple Silicon chips on Macs is going in the direction of marrying the same technical architecture that has made the fortunes of the iPhone, iPad and company, so it may only be a matter of time before Apple's operating systems shrink to one or at most two.

Apple's unreleased homeOS

An oversight betrayed an Apple man, a Senior iOS Engineer who worked on a version of Apple Music within which two references to an unreleased operating system called homeOS were found. Needless to say, Apple was quick to remove the offending quotes, but the damage was now done.

The way Apple remedied the situation also added detail to the indiscretion, which took on a recognizable form when the references to homeOS were replaced with the current tvOS. So tvOS, the operating system for Apple TV and Apple HomePod (which is not yet on sale in Italy), would be tied to the unreleased homeOS.

How? Two main hypotheses: that it could be a new operating system that Apple is working on to complement the existing range and whose name has accidentally escaped from the Cupertino corridors, or that Apple would be ready for a rebranding of tvOS.

After all, it's true that tvOS is used by Apple TV so the nomenclature is consistent, but it isn't anymore since, with the debut of smart speakers in the wake of Google Nest and Amazon Echo, tvOS has also ended up on Apple HomePods.

The rebranding hypothesis, today, seems more credible than the previous one. Apple would end up replicating what happened a few years ago with iOS, first finished on iPhone and iPad, and then transformed on the latter iPadOS. Everything, however, must be framed with the adhesion to Matter, the standard for home automation by Amazon-Google-Apple.

homeOS, debut at WWDC21?

Or Apple is considering a third hypothesis that is the result of the combination of the two: homeOS would be a new operating system unified between all smart home devices in the current list and those that will be in the years to come.

A clue to support this thesis comes from the fact that the lines of code that contained homeOS identified it as a mobile platform on par with iOS and iPadOS, when in fact both Apple TV and Apple HomePod are not designed for mobile use.

The third hypothesis, in short, is not to be discarded. And if homeOS was a name Apple is really working on, it could come out as early as next week's WWDC21 along with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and macOS12.