After the release of the iOS 16 Developer beta at WWDC, many users noticed that the iPad was no longer listed as one of the supported devices to be a home hub – just the Apple TV, HomePod, and HomePod mini. Recently, an error text discovered in the iOS 16 beta appeared to confirm the iPad’s removal from the list of home hub candidates.
A home hub is required to take advantage of features such as receiving accessory notifications and allowing other people to control your home. You won’t be able to view shared homes until those homes are also upgraded to the latest HomeKit. iPad is no longer supported as a home hub.
Now that turns out not to be the case at all. Apple has confirmed to The Verge that the iPad can still be a home hub, with one pretty big drawback: it sticks to the old architecture and doesn’t support new features.
“iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will continue to support iPad as a home hub with no loss of functionality,” Apple spokesperson Catherine Franklin told The Verge. “In addition to these releases, the Home app introduces a new architecture for an even more efficient and reliable experience. Since iPad is not supported as a home hub with the new architecture, users who rely on iPad for that do not need to update the Home architecture and can continue to enjoy all existing features.”
You can always control HomeKit-enabled devices from your Apple device if it’s on the same local network, but to use automations, control your home when you’re away, or give access to other users, you need what Apple calls a “home hub”, a device that acts as a controller and bridge for your HomeKit-enabled devices.
When Apple updates its operating systems this fall, it will change the underlying architecture of the Home app and home hub controls to be more efficient and responsive, as well as add new features such as live widgets on the lock screen and support for the new Matter standard that ensures compatibility between ecosystems (following a software update later this year). If you use your iPad as a home hub, you get none of that.
We never really recommended the iPad as a home hub anyway. To use it as one device, your iPad must be at home, connected to your local network, and turned on. That makes it inherently unreliable, as it is an inherently portable device with limited battery life. We recommend a HomePod (including HomePod mini) or Apple TV hardware if you want to get the most out of HomeKit devices, or devices that support the Matter standard in the future.