Home automation gets smarter for Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini owners | Cult of Mac

Home automation gets smarter for Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini owners

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HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

A major Thread networking standard update Tuesday brings the Matter home automation technology standard a step closer for those who already own certain devices. Namely, gear that can act as a border router in the smart home — like Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini.

Thread 1.3.0 lets Thread devices work with any other Thread border router. That’s big because Thread will be Matter’s main wireless protocol, along with Wi-Fi.

Thread update pushes Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini toward Matter home automation standard

While we’re still waiting for the much-delayed Matter standard to come out — and as Apple prepares for it — a new update is rolling out for Thread border routers. Thread 1.3.0 now allows Thread devices to work with any other Thread border router, including Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini.

As a universal smart home technology standard, Matter will make setting up your HomeKit-managed house easier than ever. Thread, along with Wi-Fi, will be the new standard’s main wireless networking protocols.

So as soon as Matter is finalized — the latest forecast has it showing up before the end of 2022 — a Thread-enabled Matter device can join current thread networks via border routers.

With a manufacturer update, Apple TV 4K, HomePod mini, Nanoleaf light panels and other devices listed below can become a Thread 1.3.0 border router, TheVerge reported. And Apple devices and some others are backwards-compatible with older Thread versions.

Devices that can be Thread 1.3.0 border routers:

  • Apple TV 4K
  • Apple HomePod Mini
  • Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements, and Lines LED light panels
  • Echo (fourth gen) smart speaker
  • All Wi-Fi 6-and-up Eero mesh routers
  • Nest Hub Max smart display
  • Nest Hub (second gen) smart display
  • Nest Wifi mesh router

No special software needed

“From a technical perspective, anything that is currently running as a Thread border router can be updated,” said Jonathan Hui, VP of technology for the Thread Group.

“Thread 1.3.0 makes the border router appear on the Wi-Fi [network] like any other Wi-Fi device, allowing any existing device on the Wi-Fi network to interact with those Thread devices without requiring any special software,” he added.

So with the Thread 1.3.0 update, Thread border-router functionality is becoming the standard. Now various manufacturers’ border routers can easily join the same Thread network.