Apple HomePod Now Runs tvOS, not iOS

Posted on April 14, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Music + Videos with 3 Comments

After examining the latest HomePod firmware, 9to5Mac discovered that it is now based on tvOS, and not iOS as before. What does this mean for the product and its users?

As the publication explains, most of Apple’s newer platforms—iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and the previous-generation HomePod firmware—are all basically offshoots of iOS, the platform behind the iPhone and iPod touch, and are modified as needed to accommodate the hardware on which they run.

The switch from an iOS core to a tvOS core in the latest HomePod firmware doesn’t impact the device’s performance or functionality, 9to5Mac says. Instead, it appears to be related to a few core needs.

The first and most obvious is that iOS is designed for devices that run on batteries and have special power management functionality. But the HomePod, like the Apple TV, is always run on power, and thus the two underlying systems work more similarly than do, say, an iPhone and HomePod.

But this change might also be tied to expectations that Apple will drop support for the A8 chipset in iOS 14. The A8 was used in iOS devices like the iPad mini 4 and iPad Air 2, both of which are quite old. That chipset is also used in the 4th-generation Apple TV (which is older and HD-only) and, wait for it, the HomePod. As such, the next version of tvOS will continue to support this chipset.

So while it seems odd that the HomePod would run tvOS, this all makes sense in the end.

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Comments (3)

3 responses to “Apple HomePod Now Runs tvOS, not iOS”

  1. dcdevito

    I was hoping they'd make a SiriOS that works across all sorts of devices. Oh well.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to dcdevito:

      The OS that runs on all of it is Darwin. The higher-level frameworks are tweaked for the device. Remember that all of them have a direct line back to NeXTSTEP.

      • Paul Thurrott

        Used to be. That connection is not relevant anymore, and iOS was the starting point for all of those other platforms.
  2. Divodd

    As somebody who owned the A8 equipped iPhone 6, I can inform you that Apple already dropped support for it in iOS 13