Apple is quietly phasing out HomeKit hub support for the third-generation Apple TV, meaning users who update their iPhones and iPads with iOS 10 will not be able to use the remote access feature in the Home app unless they have a fourth-generation set-top box.

Since HomeKit's announcement in 2014, iOS device owners running iOS 8.1 or later have been able to communicate with their third-generation Apple TV over iCloud remote access, which enables the set-top box to relay commands to HomeKit accessories when they're away from home.

ios10-ipad-atv-homekit-automation-hero
However, Apple has been confirming via its Twitter support account that once users update their devices to iOS 10, only a fourth-generation Apple TV or later is able to act as a HomeKit hub using the Home app to communicate remotely with the home automation platform. Apple has updated its support document on HomeKit remote access to reflect the change.

The news will no doubt come as a blow to owners of third-generation Apple TVs who use the feature, with the lack of HomeKit support in iOS 10 signaling another nail in the coffin for the older set-top box, which lacks native tvOS features like the App Store and Siri integration only available on the later model.


Apple's staggered depreciation of the third-gen device was also reflected in news last week that the company is pulling the device from its retail stores, with staff instructed to remove any remaining models from store shelves.

On Tuesday, Apple released tvOS 10 for the fourth-gen Apple TV, which added Siri support for managing HomeKit accessories, the ability to control HomeKit using third-party apps, and a whole host of other new features.

Update: Apple has published an updated support document to reflect the fact that the third-generation Apple TV works with remote access in iOS 10 (with the exception of HomeKit-enabled cameras), but does not support set-up of HomeKit automation or user permissions.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

Chupa Chupa Avatar
60 months ago
Apple licensing requirements and equipment approval slows down Homekit development, not it being compatible on a wider swath of settop boxes. (Take a look at Amazon's Alexa line). ATV is just pushing signals for HK - not a lot of heavy lifting needed there.

The ATV4 may be "peanuts" for anyone investing in home automation but if they already own an ATV3 -- that worked with HK fine before iOS 10, and still works otherwise, then why should they be essentially forced to have to buy a new one?

And if they own an ATV3 and just want a taste of HK -- not ready to commit, well, this kills that. How does that help HK compat. hardware makers? No wonder Amazon is leading the race here. You can go buy a Dot for $59 and there are more devices compatible b/c of less stringent licensing requirements.

Also, Apple should have discontinued ATV3 when ATV4 was released last year if they planned on doing this rather than string people along. It really isn't understandable or classy.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
canesalato Avatar
60 months ago
Shameful
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
60 months ago
This is kinda dirty. I understand phasing out technology, but it would have been nice for them to let people know ahead of time so they could make a decision before upgrading. This shows that Apple isn't serious about home automation. Why you might ask? Many people use these systems in remote homes for monitoring while they're away. They upgrade to iOS 10 and boom, suddenly nothing works and they don't know why. If you're a company serious about home automation, you don't do that to your customers. Especially since the ATV needs to be in range to work. I personally know people who have purchased an ATV 3 this very summer only to extend the range of their HomeKit to locks and things that are at the fringe of their house. I wish Apple would just sell HomeKit range extenders with powerful bluetooth antennas that are small and which you can plug right into an outlet. Bonus points if they have mics for "Hey, Siri" functionality anywhere in your house.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kasakka Avatar
60 months ago
If it was working before, why remove it? Just so they don't have to support the older device? How old is the third gen Apple TV?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ritte Avatar
60 months ago
Didn't Apple state in WDC in June that you need ATV3 connection to be able to connect remotely. I've invested in HomeKit devices, and upgrades to iOS 10 since.
They can't just take it back. I don't want to buy an atv4 just to use something that would work on the hardware I already have.

It's not a matter of money but a matter of principle. You don't lie to your customers.


I'll skip HomeKit entirely now.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
saabi Avatar
60 months ago
If it was working before, why remove it? Just so they don't have to support the older device? How old is the third gen Apple TV?
They didn't remove anything. Just the Home App is not for 3rd gen ATV. But it still works as HomeKit hub.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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