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Apple TV 4K 2021 and 2022 are now Thread border routers for Matter

27 Oct 2022 | Rasmus Larsen |

The future of the smart home is almost here with Matter and Thread. Apple TV 4K 2021, Apple TV 4K 2022, and HomePod mini now support Matter and act as Thread border routers.

Thread is a low-power and low-latency wireless mesh networking protocol that lets smart home devices (lights, media devices, TVs, sensors, AC, shades etc) communicate with each other – locally without the need for internet.

The new Matter smart home standard sits on top as a unifying IP-based connectivity protocol that relies on both Thread, WiFi and Ethernet to send commands to smart home devices regardless of brand and ecosystem.

This will allow you to more reliably control smart home devices with much faster response, and Matter is expected to significantly increase the number and categories of smart home devices.

Matter and Thread

How Thread and Matter works. Illustration: Thread Group

You need a Thread border router

To get started in a smart home built on Matter and Thread you need a Thread border router, which connects the Thread network to WiFi/LAN so you can control it via a smartphone, voice commands or another device. This may sound like a new device/hub but basically any modern device can be a Thread border router. Apple had prepared a few of its devices for all this and the release of tvOS 16.1 adds Matter support. Apple TV 4K (2nd Gen) from 2021 and HomePod mini now function as Thread border routers. The upcoming 128GB version of Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen) will also function as a Thread border router. The 64GB version of Apple TV 4K (3rd Gen) will support Matter (over WiFi/LAN) but not Thread. - "Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard, is now supported, enabling a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems," Apple said in its tvOS 16.1 release notes. However, you will have to wait a little longer for everything to fall in place. Apple's new Home app with an improved architecture will launch with iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2 and macOS Ventura 13.1 later this year – currently in beta. If your smart home devices do not support Matter or cannot be updated to support Matter, they will continue – in the Apple ecosystem – to be controllable as before via HomeKit. Amazon, Google and others are likewise rolling out Matter support with plans to make products such as newer Eero Wi-Fi routers, Nest Hub (2nd Gen) and Hub Max function as Thread border routers. Update: Apple now says that Apple TV 4K (2021) is "not compatible with non-HomeKit Thread devices" while Apple TV 4K (2022) has a dedicated Thread radio that should also work with non-HomeKit Thread devices.

Apple TV Thread

Source: Apple

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