Apple is removing home hub support from the iPad in iPadOS 16 in an effort to introduce Matter support later this year, forcing users to switch to a HomePod or an Apple TV to keep their HomeKit devices up and running. The ability to set up an iPad as a home hub was a valuable feature, since Apple doesn’t currently sell a smart home speaker or voice assistant with a screen. Instead, users had the option of setting up an iPad as a home hub, and some people thought of creative ways to incorporate their iPad into their home — like wall mounts and 3D-printed stands. By keeping an iPad as a home hub, users could remotely control HomeKit devices through the tablet’s Wi-Fi connections.
The move appears to be tied to Apple’s support of Matter, a universal smart home connectivity standard, that is set to debut later this year. After a series of delays, the company confirmed at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference that Matter would be coming to HomeKit, allowing expansive support for third-party smart home accessories. Apple is joining other tech giants — like Google, Amazon, and Samsung — in embracing an open future for the ever-evolving internet-of-things (IoT). However, as the company’s smart home gains features, it seems that other devices in Apple’s lineup might lose them in the fall.
Apple’s preview of iOS and iPadOS 16 hinted at the possibility that the iPad might not work as a home hub after the update. Though the company touted a redesigned Home app and Matter support to come in the fall, the fine print on its website left the iPad excluded as a home hub. “Only Apple TV and HomePod are supported as home hubs,” Apple’s website reads. This marked a change from past versions of iPadOS, which allowed iPads to be set up as a home hub, enabling remote smart-home control and a constant internet connection. However, when the first iOS and iPadOS 16 developer beta was released, it was still possible to setup an iPad as a home hub. The second developer beta was released without support for the iPad as a home hub, and with a message warning iPad users that their smart home would lose functionality.
IPad Home Hubs Are Not Compatible With Matter
Opening the Home app in the latest developer beta of iOS and iPadOS 16 prompts a message warning users that iPads will no longer be supported as home hubs, as was first pointed out by MacRumors. “A home hub is required to take advantage of features like receiving accessory notifications and allowing other people to control your home,” the message reads. “You will not be able to view shared homes until those homes are also upgraded to the latest HomeKit.” While some features are still accessible without a home hub setup, accessory notifications and remote control are a huge reason why someone might want a smart home. “iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub,” the message continues. In order to keep their smart home working properly, users will need to set up an Apple TV, HomePod, or HomePod mini as a home hub.
The loss of support is likely tied to the upcoming Matter support set to be added to HomeKit later this year. “Matter accessories require an Apple TV or HomePod running as a home hub,” Apple says in the notes at the bottom of its iOS 16 preview. It isn’t immediately clear why the iPad is not compatible with Matter accessories, but it looks like Apple has made the choice to remove home hub support entirely due to the lack of support. The removal suggests that the company is all-in on Matter support, which is said to bring an open standard to the smart home and a new era of inter-compatibility. The changes to HomeKit and the addition of Matter will be released later this year as part of iOS and iPadOS 16.