As disclosed on the specs page for Apple’s new HomePod mini, the diminutive speaker is Apple’s first to support Thread networking technology.
While Thread is essentially agnostic to the application layers that run on top of it, it can support multiple layers and may play a role in Project Connected Home over IP, the alliance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and other companies that is seeking to make it simpler to build devices compatible with multiple ecosystems such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
For the time being, however, Apple says in a footnote that HomePod mini’s Thread support is limited to HomeKit devices, so the technology can’t yet be leveraged cross-platform and it remains to be seen how Apple will embrace Thread going forward.
Apple is a noted supporter of the Thread project, with longtime Apple engineer Stuart Cheshire, who developed the Rendezvous/Bonjour zero-configuration standard nearly 20 years ago, serves as a director of Thread Group.
Apple’s HomePod mini will be available for pre-order starting November 6, and it will officially launch on November 16.
If we look closely at Apple’s hardware releases in the last several years, it’s possible to interpret their strategy and understand why Apple got out of the router game.The answer is that each Apple device is its own piece of a mesh network. Every Apple device recognizes Apple devices around it and seamlessly creates a network of all devices logged into the same Apple ID and known Apple ID’s.The reliability of transferring files via AirDrop has gotten to a point where it really does just work. iCloud puts storage in the cloud where any device can access it, even outside of a traditional local network. Printers connect directly to each device, without having to configure them manually. These functions constitute the majority of uses for a home network.The obvious piece that’s missing is of course internet access. iPhones connect to the internet directly via LTE and can even get other devices online like Macs and iPads. But LTE data is expensive and Macs and AppleTVs consume large amounts of data. This is where 5G will come in. Speeds are expected to exceed terrestrial internet and available bandwidth will enable ISP’s to charge the same for wireless data as they do for traditional internet — with the added benefit that it’s much cheaper to deploy 5G infrastructure than it is optical cabling under city streets and on poles.Some people will probably say that this isn’t viable for offices. Commercial networks were never AirPort’s focus. IT departments didn’t buy a bunch of AirPort to build networks. It was always primarily a consumer device. We have to see this from a consumer perspective and so for consumers, a direct internet connection via a 5G chip built into each device makes far more sense than configuring WiFi networks at home.Mesh networks are experiencing a bit of a moment now but I don’t think that will last as 5G is deployed and people start relying on their future iPhone’s 5G connection when data prices drop to the price of traditional home internet prices. Apple wasn’t looking at the short term when they decided to abandon AirPort. They’re thinking ahead. I fully expect Macs and even AppleTV’s to come with built in 5G chips in the coming years and for Watches and iPads to come with cellular chips standard.
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Apple, HomePod, iPod mini, Smart speaker
World news – US – HomePod Mini Supports Low-Power Thread Networking Technology