Apple Signals Smart Home Mesh Networking Interest by Joining 'The Thread Group'

Apple has become a member of The Thread Group, an organization that supports companies interested in innovating networking solutions for consumer smart home devices using the Thread mesh standard (via 9to5Mac).

Apple has been added to the list of official members on the group's website, although what that means in practical terms is unclear. According to literature available online, the group's mission is "to focus on education, marketing, promotion of the Thread Networking Protocol, and ensuring a great experience through rigorous, meaningful product certification".
Thread Group is a not-for-profit organization responsible for the market education around the Thread networking protocol and certification of Thread products. Thread is an IP-based wireless networking protocol providing the best way to connect products in the home. With Thread, product developers and consumers can easily and securely connect more than 250 devices into a low-power, wireless mesh network.
Thread is just one among several mesh standards that smart home products can be certified to support. Zigbee and Z-Wave are two such examples of rival standards competing in the connected home market, while Bluetooth was also recently updated to support mesh networking, or creating large-scale networks across devices without relying on a central hub or router.

In recent years, Wi-Fi mesh systems have become a popular solution for in-home wireless networks, with options from companies like Linksys, Orbi, Eero, and Google.

The technology is also looking to expand, with the Wi-Fi Alliance in May announcing a new certification program called "EasyMesh", which aims to allow users to build mesh networks in their homes across different brands.

Apple joined the Qi Wireless Charging Consortium ahead of its adoption of inductive charging in last year's iPhone lineup, so Apple's Thread Group membership is sure to ignite speculation that the Thread standard could be coming to HomeKit products or even a future version of HomeKit.



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2 weeks ago

New Apple routers? Yes please.


Tim must have taken notice of these new mesh routers that come with monthly subscriptions.
Rating: 8 Votes
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2 weeks ago
You’ll get my Time Capsule and Airport Express when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Or when Apple comes out with an AirPort mesh network. Whichever comes first.
Rating: 6 Votes
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2 weeks ago
New Apple routers? Yes please.
Rating: 6 Votes
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2 weeks ago

Are they that good? I have an Airport Extreme sitting in the house that I never got around to setting up.

Incredibly simple to set up, reliable and reasonably powerful with a super easy iOS app to control them with. You can get newer WiFi routers that have greater range and all sorts of new trafficking features. Would love if Apple came out with updated versions that have the added benefits of the last 5 years’ tech advances. But considering their age they are a damn simple, no-hassle part of my network.
Rating: 4 Votes
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2 weeks ago

New Apple routers? Yes please.


I support your enthusiasm, but Thread is not about WiFi mesh routers - at least not directly. Thread is a low-power, low-bandwidth mesh protocol for connecting IoT devices. Apple's interest in Thread is about HomeKit. I doubt they'll jump into the Thread Router or Thread Border Router Gateway market - let alone WiFi mesh.

That being said, I hope Apple is still capable of surprises and has a new vision for the smart home. Surely, Apple realizes that since the Smart Phone market is maturing and will not see the growth that it's enjoyed over the last decade there must be a new category to foster revenue growth (aside from services which depends on hardware sales).

I liked the smaller, bolder Apple much better.
Rating: 3 Votes
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2 weeks ago

You’ll get my Time Capsule and Airport Express when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Or when Apple comes out with an AirPort mesh network. Whichever comes first.


I used to think this way, then I got an Eero mesh that gives me 900/900 from my AT&T 1g fiber. It’s so much faster than Airport.
Rating: 3 Votes
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2 weeks ago

I used to think this way, then I got an Eero mesh that gives me 900/900 from my AT&T 1g fiber. It’s so much faster than Airport.

Sounds great. And if I had to buy now that’s pribably what I’d get. But I’m not rocking 1G yet, and I’m in no hurry to update equipment that works well. I’ll probably wait until the next WiFi standard comes out, at which point Apple will hopefully be back in the game with a mesh set up.
Rating: 3 Votes
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2 weeks ago
I've been thinking about how all of these Apple devices, like HomePod and Apple TV should be mesh extenders. Does anyone else think that all Wi-Fi devices will have mesh extension built into them eventually? It would make sense if the device itself could extend the network's range. Having HomePods and ATV's throughout the home acting as a mesh network makes sense to me.
Rating: 2 Votes
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2 weeks ago

I used to think this way, then I got an Eero mesh that gives me 900/900 from my AT&T 1g fiber. It’s so much faster than Airport.


Yes, that sounds good from a spec perspective, but a) is that speed benefit frequently fully utilised in your real world usage b) does that speed benefit outweigh the utility of a native app on macOS and iOS for controlling/configuring the network?

Not to mention, the AirPort product line offers high security (they were one of the few not listed as compromised by security breaches), and integrated hard drives for seamless Time Machine backups…

I’m not yet convinced the speed boost is worth it.

However, I’d love to see Apple adopt mesh networking, and mesh the technology with the benefits of their retired AirPort product line and their current HomeKit initiative.

The ‘cherry on top’ of that scenario would be for HomePod to be able to act as a mesh node.
Rating: 2 Votes
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2 weeks ago

I used to think this way, then I got an Eero mesh that gives me 900/900 from my AT&T 1g fiber. It’s so much faster than Airport.

Once you have mesh, it's really hard to look at the traditional modem/router/extender set up the same way. I was initially reluctant to jump on board. Almost mad that I waited so long.
Rating: 2 Votes
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