Apple Removed HomeKit Support for Third-Generation Apple TV With iOS 10 [Updated]

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.

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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 10, iOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)


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7 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.
Rating: 6 Votes
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7 months ago
Shameful
Rating: 6 Votes
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7 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.
Rating: 3 Votes
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7 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.
Rating: 2 Votes
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7 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.
Rating: 2 Votes
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7 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?
Rating: 2 Votes
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7 months ago
This situation irritates me (perhaps more than it logically should) ... We own two of the 3rd. gen. Apple TV's in our household, and we considered upgrading to the 4th. gen. -- except realized it just wasn't financially justified given what we do with them. (We already own an Amazon Fire and have a Prime subscription, so a lot of our movie or TV watching happens on that unit. We also own a Roku 3 that sits on the big TV in the living room. It, honestly, doesn't get a *lot* of use, but it runs Plex so it can talk to a dedicated Plex media server I run - and that justifies its existence by itself.) The AppleTVs are both on small LCD sets in bedrooms and mainly get used if someone wants to watch NetFlix on one of them, plus the ability to AirPlay to them on rare occasions that's desired.

I had hoped that support for HomeKit would be extended to the 3rd. gen AppleTV with the new "Home" app, since Apple didn't say much of anything indicating otherwise. As they cost a lot less than 4th. gen models, it would actually make a lot of sense if Apple kept them available *mainly* for HomeKit hub purposes. I get that right now, it's only the Home APP that's not being supported -- but that's still a piece of the whole HomeKit eco-system, the way Apple envisions it all coming together.

A lot of people got screwed over already, when Apple announced that a lot of home automation gear people ASSUMED would be compatible was in fact, NOT, thanks to not having a hardware chip with enough bits of security encryption to meet Apple's requirements for the standard. I knew people who spent hundreds on EcoBee 3 thermostats, for example, only to find out they had to get rid of them and buy them over again to get the HomeKit approved editions of the same things.

(I *think* my Chamberlain MyQ garage door opener has one of the Broadcom chips in it that's actually HomeKit compliant -- yet so far, no word of it getting HomeKit support either.)

This entire HomeKit roll-out has been a mess, IMO. Apple released something half-baked and then slowly improved it without much explanation of what was going on. You had to be really into home automation and following multiple blogs and support sites to figure out the status of all of it.


read people, its just not home app compatible, it never was !

Rating: 1 Votes
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7 months ago
Glad to see this addressed in an article. Using my ATV3, I can't access HomeKit outside of my network.

I have no reason to purchase an ATV4, especially because I use optical audio out and ATV4 is missing that port.
Rating: 1 Votes
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7 months ago
Badly communicated but understandable decision. Having to maintain software compatibility with an older device/os just slows down HomeKit development. And a new AppleTV is typically absolutely peanuts for anyone investing in home automation.
Rating: 1 Votes
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7 months ago

They didn't remove anything. Just the Home App is not for 3rd gen ATV. But it still works as HomeKit hub.


Yep, running iOS 10 and I can turn on/off lights while away from home. I only have a gen2 and 3 AppleTVs. Not sure why the article is saying we'll lose remote access.
Rating: 1 Votes
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