Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Apple’s Latest Macs and iPads Have Hidden Smart Home Thread Radio

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Apple has added an unannounced Thread radio in most of the Macs and iPads that have been released in the last eight months, according to a report from The Verge. Thread is not listed as a feature in the specifications for the devices released since September 2023, but FCC reports suggest that a Thread radio is indeed included.

Thread radios have been added to the M4 iPad Pro models, the M2 iPad Air models, the M3/M3 Pro/M3 Max MacBook Pro models, the M3 MacBook Air models, and the M3 iMacs.

It is possible that the Thread radios inside of the devices are inactive at the current time, which may be why Apple does not list Thread as an included feature. The Verge was not able to get a response from Apple on whether the Thread radios are functional or dormant.

Device makers have to list and test all radios contained in a product because of FCC regulations, which is why a Thread radio is listed in the FCC report for each device, but not included on the specifications website.

Thread is a mesh network that links smart home devices together, extending their range and reliability. It is an improvement over Bluetooth, and it is an important component of the Matter smart home protocol. Thread connects devices together, and Matter allows them to communicate with one another.

For Thread to work, a Thread border router is needed, and devices have to have Thread built in. Thread border routers include the Apple TV 4K, the HomePod, and the HomePod mini, among other smart home products. The ‌HomePod‌ and the ‌Apple TV‌ 4K have a known Thread radio that Apple has announced, as do the iPhone 15 Pro models, but Apple has not confirmed that Thread is in any of its other devices.

With a Thread radio, a Mac or iPad could serve as a Thread border router or a Home Hub for HomeKit devices, but right now that capability is not included in devices other than the ‌HomePod‌ and ‌Apple TV‌. iPads used to be Home Hubs (before Thread), but Apple eliminated that functionality.

As The Verge points out, the Thread radios in the Mac and ‌iPad‌ models could be for futureproofing purposes. Apple said the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ models had Thread for “future opportunities for Home app integrations,” and Thread could in the future be used for connecting Apple Watches and other devices instead of Bluetooth.Related Roundups: iMac, iPad Air , iPad Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 14 & 16″ Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Neutral), iPad Air (Buy Now), iPad Pro (Buy Now), 15″ MacBook Air (Neutral), 14″ & 16″ MacBook Pro (Neutral), 13″ MacBook Air (Buy Now)Related Forums: iMac, iPad, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
This article, “Apple’s Latest Macs and iPads Have Hidden Smart Home Thread Radio” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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