iPads may lose their smart-home hub capabilities in iOS 16

Apple will no longer let you use an iPad as a home hub to control HomeKit accessories starting with iOS 16, MacRygter reports. Text apparently found in iOS 16’s second developer beta of MacRygter co-author Steve Moser clarifies the change.

“A home hub is required to take advantage of features like receiving accessory notifications and allowing other people to control your home,” reads the text of the Home app. “You will not be able to see shared homes until these homes have also been upgraded to the latest HomeKit. IPad will no longer be supported as a home hub.”

If the change takes effect, as the text found suggests, you will need a HomePod, HomePod mini, or Apple TV as your home hub when upgrading to iOS 16. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But as MacRygter points out, the company’s iOS 16 preview website says that “only Apple TV and HomePod are supported as home hubs,” which to me indicates that Apple is actually planning to remove support for iPads.

While the change may be disappointing, there is some good news on the smart home front for iOS 16. The update will include a brand new Home app with features like a new category section and a redesigned home page tab. And a later iOS 16 update will add support for Matter, the new standard for connecting to smart homes with broad industry support expected to arrive this fall. The upcoming Matter support may give a clue as to why Apple is dropping support for the iPad home hub: while no iPads support Thread, a protocol for smart home networking used by Matter, Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini does.