Thread wireless mesh networking has been unexpectedly included in the iPhone 15 Pro models alongside Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. This move by Apple has led to speculation about their intentions and potential future consequences. It is possible that Apple included Thread networking in the iPhone 15 Pro models to prepare for the integration of the HomeKit and Home apps with the Matter home automation standard. The iPhone 15 Pro press materials stated that the inclusion of Thread functionality enables future possibilities for Home app integrations. However, there may be other applications that Apple has in mind for Thread on their smartphones.
It is important to note that smartphones can serve as Thread border routers, making the iPhone 15 Pro models the "smartest home-friendly smartphones." Previously, only Apple-made Thread border routers included HomePod 2, HomePod mini, and Apple TV 4K. With the addition of the iPhone 15 Pro models, Thread-enabled devices from various companies can connect to the Thread mesh network, creating a more robust and self-healing network. While relying solely on an iPhone as the main border router may not be ideal due to portability and battery limitations, it can complement and strengthen a Thread mesh network.
The inclusion of Thread in iPhones also has implications for connectivity within the smart home. It can potentially replace Bluetooth for certain types of connectivity, offering faster and long-distance communication between devices. Additionally, the new Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models allows users with home hubs to activate HomeKit commands over the Thread network. This can lead to improved speed and automation for smart home devices.
Outside of the smart home, Thread can have applications for connecting peripherals like Apple Watch. It can offer a reliable wireless connection to various devices, including other Apple devices like MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones. Unlike Bluetooth, Thread's mesh network ensures a more stable connection and potentially eliminates range limitations for smartphones.
However, Thread does have limitations, including a lower throughput compared to the latest Bluetooth standards. This may restrict its use to lower bandwidth applications such as Apple Watch connectivity, rather than audio streaming to devices like AirPods. It remains to be seen how Apple and other manufacturers will define the specific usage scenarios for each wireless protocol.
Overall, the inclusion of Thread networking in iPhone 15 Pro models opens up possibilities for enhanced smart home automation and connectivity. It aligns with Apple's efforts to foster interoperability and compatibility within the smart home ecosystem.
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