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

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.

m2 iPad Air Horizontal Feature Blue and Purple
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 Forums: iMac, MacBook Air, iPad, MacBook Pro

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
iOS 18 Calendar Feature

iOS 18: Calendar App Design Changes and Reminders Integration

Tuesday June 18, 2024 6:16 am PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 has given the Calendar app a major update, adding some welcome interface design changes, not to mention long-awaited integration with Reminders. In the month-by-month calendar view, the month now appears in large bold font in the top left, while the Events list toggle has been replaced by a new button that lets you choose between Compact, Stacked, Details, and List views. ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

Analog Kid Avatar
2 weeks ago

And all the various teardowns have not revealed this? Seems odd…
Probably just another mode of an existing chip and antenna. It's another configuration of the 2.4GHz radio. Because it's a different operating mode it needs separate certification, but a teardown wouldn't find anything extra-- just configuration and software.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Slix Avatar
2 weeks ago
Let's hope these get unlocked with a software update at some point, and we have more reliable networking for HomeKit stuff!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NT1440 Avatar
2 weeks ago

I’ll be preparing aluminum hats for my smart bulbs
Nah, the lightbulbs are pacifists. The toaster, however, is clearly not trustworthy.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdavid_rp Avatar
2 weeks ago

Let's hope these get unlocked with a software update at some point, and we have more reliable networking for HomeKit stuff!
Maybe like the temp and humidity sensor in the HomePod. In this case I suppose they’re waiting for a big user base to have a compatible device to announce a feature that uses it
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
california_kid Avatar
2 weeks ago
Hmmm, so our smart devices can now communicate with each other.......talking behind our backs......planning something sinister
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Isengardtom Avatar
2 weeks ago
Interesting - Does Apple usually talk about HomeKit and such at WWDC?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)