iPads may lose their smart home hub capabilities in iOS 16

As of iOS 16, Apple no longer lets you use an iPad as a home hub to control HomeKit accessories. MacRumors reports† Text apparently found in iOS 16’s second developer beta by MacRumors contributing writer Steve Moser describes the change.

“A home hub is required to take advantage of features such as receiving accessory notifications and allowing other people to control your home,” the text in the Home app reportedly reads. “You won’t be able to view shared homes until those homes are also upgraded to the latest HomeKit. iPad is no longer supported as a home hub.”

If the change takes effect as the found text suggests, it means you’ll need to use a HomePod, HomePod mini, or Apple TV as your home hub when you upgrade to iOS 16. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. but if MacRumors points out, the company’s iOS 16 preview webpage says that “only Apple TV and HomePod are supported as home hubs,” indicating to me that Apple does indeed plan to remove support for iPads.

While the change may be disappointing, there’s some good news on the smart home front for iOS 16. The update will include an all-new Home app with features like a new category section and a redesigned Home tab. And a later iOS 16 update will add support for Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard with wide industry support that will be released sometime this fall. That upcoming Matter support may provide a clue as to why Apple is dropping support for iPad home hubs: while none of the iPad supports Thread, a smart home networking protocol used by Matter, the Apple TV 4K, and the HomePod mini.

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