Apples give, apples take away. The company announced a raft of exciting new software features at its WWDC Keynote on Monday, but immediately followed it up with a surprisingly long list of devices that they won’t be able to get. And now we learn that exciting new updates to HomeKit and the Home app are balanced by the warning that iPads will no longer be able to function as home hubs.
When setting up an Apple-based smart home, you can choose a central hub that will always be at home: it will receive commands, send notifications, control automation, and usually tell other elements what to do. In the past, the hub could be an Apple TV, a homepod or an iPad, but when iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 launch this fall, that list will be shortened by one.
As marked and flagged by Tech CRTR On Twitter, Apple’s iOS 16 preview footnotes contain the following notes:
Apple has offered no explanation for the change, though it’s not surprising; IPads have always been weird people, due to the fact that people often take them out of the house and portability is a fundamental part of the appeal. Missing the automation of carrying your iPad in a bag on a train may fail to work, and your family may have difficulty manually turning on the lights – or worse, depending on how deep your smart home integration goes.
So now it’s just Apple TV or HomePod. The subsequent inclusion of the Homepod Mini, happily, seems to be how much Apple sold the full-size Homepod before the model was discontinued. Apple is not historically known as a bestseller by standards and will probably push a few extra sales. Or perhaps it will hurt the interest of homekit-based ecosystems.
Overall it is probably fair to say that Apple has yet to launch a specific home hub product that makes the living room proud. Homepods are peripheral, while Apple TV is niche and often redundant in the world of smart TVs and cheap rival offers. Maybe a homepod answer with a screen that we’re all waiting for.