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—only the Apple TV, HomePod, and HomePod mini. Recently, some error text discovered in the iOS 16 beta seemed to confirm the removal of the iPad from the list of home hub candidates.
A home hub is required to take advantage of features like receiving accessory notifications and allowing other people to control your home. You will not be able to view shared homes until those homes are also upgraded to the latest HomeKit. iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub.
Now it seems that’s not entirely the case. Apple has confirmed to The Verge that the iPad can still be a home hub, with a pretty big catch: it will be stuck on the old architecture and won’t support any new features.
“iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will continue to support iPad as a home hub with no loss in functionality,” is what Apple spokesperson Catherine Franklin told The Verge. “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.”
You can always control HomeKit compatible devices from your Apple device if it is on the same local network, but in order 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 serves as a controller and bridge for your HomeKit-compatible devices.
When Apple updates its operating systems this fall, it will change the underlying architecture of the Home app and home hub control to be more efficient and responsive, as well as add new features like live widgets on the lock screen and support for the new Matter standard that ensures compatibility across ecosystems (after a software update later this year). If you use your iPad as a home hub, you won’t get any of that.
We never really recommended the iPad as a home hub, anyway. In order to use it as one, your iPad has to be home, connected to your local network, and powered on. That makes it inherently unreliable, as it is an inherently portable device with limited battery life. We suggest a HomePod (including HomePod mini) or Apple TV hardware if you want to make the most of HomeKit devices, or devices that support the Matter standard in the future.