Apple says iPads will keep working as home hubs in iOS 16, but there’s a catch


Text discovered in iOS 16 beta code indicated that Apple plans to drop iPad home hub support in the new update, but it turns out that’s not quite the full story. According to the company, the iPad isn’t losing support for what it can already do, but it won’t get an important upgrade that will be available later.

“iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will continue to support iPad as a home hub with no loss in functionality,” Apple spokesperson Catherine Franklin said in a statement to The Verge. While that seems promising on its face, there is a big asterisk. Apple is planning to introduce a new architecture to the new Home app in iOS 16, and the iPad won’t be supported as a home hub with that architecture.

Here’s Franklin’s full statement: “Alongside these releases, the Home app will introduce a new architecture for an even more efficient and reliable experience. 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.”

Apple has been vague about exactly what the architecture upgrade consists of. During the WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple’s Corey Wang said this: “We reimagined [the new Home app] from the ground up starting with the underlying architecture so it’s more efficient and reliable, especially for homes with many accessories.” And you will still be able to use the new Home app on an iPad without upgrading to that new architecture. The upgrade will be available in the Home app’s settings in a later iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 update, according to Franklin.

We don’t yet know exactly how your experience might differ on the old architecture. But we do know that iPads won’t be able to use accessories that take advantage of the new smart home standard Matter: in a footnote on the iOS 16 preview page, Apple notes that “Matter accessories require an Apple TV or HomePod running as a home hub.” Perhaps that Matter support is the key difference.

Apple says the Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and HomePod Mini will still be supported as home hubs with the new architecture. So, if you’re currently using your iPad as a home hub and want to take advantage of the new architecture, you’re going to want to pick up one of those other devices.

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