Apple will likely introduce new consumer products along with new versions of all their OSes.  All the standard stuff. What I’m looking for is something fantastic like the Swift language introduction two years ago, something that will WOW developers. That something is IoTOS.

What would IoTOS look like and what is the market?

The Apple IoTOS would include the entire software stack in iOS and/or tvOS.  I mean from the Darwin layer, through the LLVM for the Swift runtime, through Foundation Framework to Cocoa Touch and all their other Frameworks that are now available in iOS.

There is a huge untapped market for and OS that will serve the IoT market. Some would say that, the market is being served very well with various offers from Microsoft, Linux open source platforms and other private and open source solutions.  I say, none of them would look like IoTOS from Apple.

The market for IoT devices is exploding behind the scenes. There are a lot of companies that are making huge mistakes with respect to security alone that would allow Apple’s IoTOS to fill those security gaps.  But there are also a large number of devices that could use elegant and advanced touch interfaces and voice interfaces. Apple will never build consumer grade hardware for the largest percentages of those devices.  Why not leverage their OS to be player in those markets?

What might an IoTOS license look like?

The concept is that Apple would license their IoTOS to companies free of charge. This would unleash IoTOS to all corners of the marketplace. I would expect that Apple would restrict the license to not include tables and phones, to restrict completion in that space. I would not see the same for the television space. Allowing TV makers to embed IoTOS into their TVs.

Apple may offer a higher tier of licensing the would include their security integration including the specification of security chips to be used.

The community and the tool chain is the key.

Just as developers are now using the Xcode, toolchain for developing could apps using Swift on the server, so too would developers use Xcode and other tools to build out IoT devices. Doing this would bring millions of skilled developers to the IoT world. More could be said here, but think Swift everywhere is the concept. 

What would this mean to Apple?

For Apple it would open the possibility of extending its technology domination into non-consumer markets without having to invest heavily into those markets. It will extend the dominance of it’s OS and touch interfaces into areas where it doesn’t have expertise to compete. It would also let vertical market domain experts utilize the IoTOS as they see fit and watch Apple’s influence grow in many other sectors. Much more could be written about this topic alone.

What would this mean to the world?

Having the most advanced OS in the hands of 10’s of thousands of companies and 100’s of thousands of developers in the IoT space will produce some amazing products that nobody can see today, it will change the future space of possibilities.

We will see devices with better user experiences, ones that are familiar to any iOS user. it will increase the security of IoT devices that lack security today. 

Imagine an Apple branded home device that can connect with any Apple IoTOS device on a local WiFi or a W1 Bluetooth network and update that device like iOS updates Apple Watch? Think about how that alone would enhance security across all IoT devices. 

Could you imagine some of the following devices that would leverage a high quality OS with all the features of iOS?

  • Robotics - It would be very exciting to see a huge number of robots powered by Apple IoTOS.  This move alone would help Apple enter into this market. 
  • Cash Registers - With a Cocoa Touch UI they would be much better then what is in use today, except for the platforms that use iPads on iOS. 
  • Credit Card Devices - Again with a Cocoa Touch UI it would have greater security, and better integration for Apple Pay.
  • Advance Manufacturing Machinery - This would enable a great UI, security and advanced computing power to drive the machines. With enough hardware power to do the work of driving a machine and do allow the machineto learn at the same time.
  • Home Appliances - Security seems like a fantastic fit here and greater UI would also be very useful. Imagine the possibility of updating versions of the software on your washer and dryer to fill in security flaws.
  • Televisions - Let the TV manufactures have at it with IoTOS to see what they will produce. 
  • Embedded Devices Everywhere - Can you imagine having embedded devices that can connect with iOS devices in the field through Apple’s hardware/software combinations, like they have for AirPods W1 Bluetooth chips?  Fantastic!
  • Heavy Machinery On Board Computers - This could be huge.  Autonomous operation alone would make this worthwhile. Besides, companies are already doing this with other OSes now.  Add in great UI, security and connectivity and Apple could dominate in that space.