Apple says iPad can still be a home hub in iOS 16, as long as the new HomeKit features don’t Matter to you

When beta 1 of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 dropped earlier this month, based on code findings and wording on Apple’s official feature preview website page, it seemed that the iPad would no longer be a supported device to act as a HomeKit home hub.

However, in a new statement to The Verge, Apple says this is not correct. Apple says iPads can continue to be home hubs in iPadOS 16 “with no loss of functionality”. However, you won’t get any new functionality either…

It is a little confusing, but it seems that iPads can continue to act as a home hub in a deprecated compatibility mode. This means they will still work as they have in the past, but they do not benefit from any of the new platform features or performance enhancements.

As such, even if it is possible to use the iPad as a home hub, it seems strongly recommended that customers should use an Apple TV box or a HomePod as the home hub instead.

Citing Apple’s statement from The Verge:

Because iPad will not be supported as a home hub with the new architecture, users who rely on iPad for that purpose do not need to update the Home architecture and can continue enjoying all existing features.

The “new architecture” includes a lot of new features, so customers opting to use an iPad would be missing out on a lot of stuff – this includes changes that enable faster and more reliable communication with HomeKit accessories. Apple said these changes are particularly targeted at improving the customer experience with a lot of HomeKit devices.

Upcoming accessories that use the Matter open standard smart home protocol are also only supported by the “new architecture,” and will not work if you are using an iPad as a home hub. So looking ahead, an Apple TV or HomePod is the way to go.

The upgrade to the “new HomeKit architecture” will be available as an opt-in switch in a later iOS 16 update.

A HomeKit home hub allows users to control accessories remotely, whilst not directly connected to their home network; they are also in charge of running automations on schedule. Home hubs also enable features such as HomeKit Secure Video for recording motion on supported cameras. For HomeKit based accessories, running a home hub is optional and enables the remote control and automation features. However, Matter accessories will require an active Apple TV or HomePod home hub to be used at all.

Frankly, even before this quirk of new architecture and old architecture concerns, the iPad was the most unreliable option when it came to home hubs. Plugged-into-the-wall HomePods or Apple TV boxes have always been the preferred solution.

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