Apple’s tvOS operating system for the Apple TV has seen a major update with tvOS 17.4. This latest version contains references in the code to “homeOS”, hinting at Apple’s future smart home plans. In this article, we will explore what homeOS is, what it could mean for the future of Apple’s smart home ecosystem, and how users can get started with tvOS 17.4 on their Apple TV.
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What Is homeOS?
homeOS is a new name that has been found in the code of the tvOS 17.4 beta release. It is believed to be a new operating system that Apple is developing to power its range of smart home products and services.
While Apple has not officially announced homeOS, the reference in the tvOS code suggests it will play a role in controlling HomePod speakers, Apple TV set-top boxes, and other smart home accessories. homeOS could provide a unified platform for all of Apple’s home automation devices and services.
Some key possibilities for homeOS include:
- Merging tvOS and HomePod OS into one smart home platform.
- Expanding HomeKit with more advanced features.
- Integrating home security monitoring and cameras.
- Offering new smart home experiences with augmented reality.
- Tighter integration with Apple services like Apple Music.
The release of homeOS could see the Apple TV and HomePod gain expanded functionality. It would allow Apple to compete better with other smart home ecosystems like Alexa and Google Home.
How Does tvOS 17.4 Fit In?
The latest tvOS 17.4 beta contains code referencing homeOS, giving the first hints about Apple’s plans. tvOS already powers key smart home features on the Apple TV, such as HomeKit control.
It’s possible Apple is laying the groundwork for homeOS integration in future tvOS updates. The public launch of tvOS 17.4 is rumored for March 2023. This lines up with speculation that Apple could announce new smart home hardware and services at a spring media event.
The discovery of homeOS references suggests Apple TV will play an important role in the new smart home ecosystem. tvOS 17.4 could add initial support for features that may be fully unlocked by homeOS down the line.
How to Install tvOS 17.4
tvOS 17.4 is currently only available as a developer beta. The public beta is expected soon. Here are the steps to install it:
- Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD (2nd generation or newer)
- An Apple Developer account
- On your Apple TV, go to Settings > System > Software Updates.
- Select “Get Public Beta Updates”. Read the warnings and consent to enroll your Apple TV.
- In the Apple Developer Center, navigate to Downloads and find the tvOS 17.4 beta configuration profile. Download it.
- On your Apple TV, go to Settings > Profiles and select the downloaded profile to install it.
- Finally, go back to System > Software Updates. The Apple TV will find the 17.4 beta update and you can install it.
The process is fairly straightforward but rebooting and updating can take 10-15 minutes. So far the 17.4 beta appears stable for everyday use.
What’s New in tvOS 17.4?
While homeOS references may hint at the future, tvOS 17.4 also brings some helpful improvements on its own, including:
- Support for the second-generation Siri Remote added last year.
- Bug fixes for issues in the previous tvOS version.
- Under the hood optimizations and performance improvements.
There are no major user-facing changes yet. But the foundation is being laid for further smart home integration.
The Future of Apple’s Smart Home Ecosystem
The homeOS name paints a picture of Apple’s broader smart home ambitions. Here are some possibilities we might see in the next couple years:
- A unified experience across devices: homeOS could provide a consistent interface for controlling HomeKit, Apple TV, HomePod and more from a single app.
- Expanded HomeKit capabilities: Apple could add support for new smart home categories like security cameras, smart locks, and energy monitoring.
- Integrations with Apple services: homeOS may offer tighter ties with Apple Music for whole-home audio and smart playlist recommendations based on routines.
- AR smart home previews: Apple has explored using augmented reality to let users virtually walk through and control a smart home environment.
- Improved automation: More advanced automations could be possible, like scenes adapting to user location and time of day.
- New hardware products: A homeOS launch may coincide with rumored devices like an Apple smart display, combined ATV/HomePod hub, or smart home controller.
While purely speculative for now, homeOS shows Apple is serious about expanding its smart home ecosystem. Exciting new experiences likely lie ahead.
That covers the essential details on the homeOS references found in tvOS 17.4 beta. While Apple hasn’t provided official details yet, homeOS appears to be an ambitious new smart home platform in the works.
The tvOS 17.4 update provides the first glimpse at Apple’s plans, and brings welcomed enhancements like Siri Remote support. As Apple TV and HomePod continue converging into smart home hubs, we can expect homeOS to unlock deeper home automation capabilities down the road.
Exciting times are ahead for Apple’s smart home ecosystem. We’ll have to wait for official announcements to learn the specifics, but the homeOS name is already giving us plenty to talk about.
Table of Apple TV and tvOS Version History
|Apple TV Model
|1st gen Apple TV
|None, modified OS X
|2nd gen Apple TV
|3rd gen Apple TV
|4th gen Apple TV
|4th gen Apple TV 4K
|Apple TV HD