Apple gives, and Apple takes. The company announced a slew of exciting new software features at its WWDC keynote on Monday, but immediately followed it up with a surprisingly long list of devices they couldn’t get. And now we learn that the intriguing new updates to HomeKit and the Home app are offset by the caveat that iPads can no longer serve as home hubs.
When setting up an Apple-based smart home, you can choose a central hub that stays in the house at all times: it receives commands, sends notifications, controls automations, and generally tells the other components what to do. In the past, the hub could be an Apple TV, a HomePod, or an iPad, but as of the launch of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 this fall, that list will be cut by one.
Spotted and marked by Tech Crtr on Twitter, the footnotes to Apple’s iOS 16 preview include the following note:
Apple has not provided an explanation for this change, although it’s not hugely surprising; the iPad has always been the odd one out as people often take them outside and portability is a fundamental part of its appeal. Throwing your iPad in a bag and taking it on the train without a second thought could prevent automations from running and could hinder your family from having to manually turn the lights on – or worse, depending on how deep your smart home integration is. go.
So now it’s just Apple TV or HomePod. The latter includes the HomePod mini, thankfully, given the number of full-size HomePods Apple seems to have sold before the model discontinued. Neither are historically known as best sellers by Apple’s standards, and maybe this will spur a few more sales. Or maybe it hurts interest in the HomeKit-based ecosystem.
It’s probably fair to say in general that Apple has yet to launch the definitive home hub product that takes pride of place in the living room. The HomePods are peripherals, while the Apple TV remains a niche and often obsolete in a world of smart TVs and cheaper competing offerings. Perhaps a HomePod with a screen is the answer we’ve all been waiting for.