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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max come with Thread. What does it mean?

At the iPhone 15 launch, USB-C and camera improvements stole the show but this time, there are several other new features on the iPhone that need attention

Mathures Paul Published 18.09.23, 11:07 AM
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the first smartphones with Thread

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the first smartphones with Thread Picture: Mathures Paul

At the iPhone 15 launch, USB-C and camera improvements stole the show but this time, there are several other new features on the iPhone that need attention. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are the first smartphones with a Thread radio. It means a lot to anyone looking for smart home connectivity.

Thread radio can be used to directly control Thread-enabled smart home products. It’s a mesh smart home network system that improves the connectivity and responsiveness of connected products. Designed for low-powered, low-bandwidth smart home devices, it can reduce latency and help prolong battery life. Earlier, Thread was added only to the HomePod Mini and Apple TV. All that Apple has said is that it will “open up future opportunities for Home app integrations”. But the exact implementation is not clear.

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What does it mean? There are some interesting possibilities, like the ability for an iPhone user to interact directly with Thread-enabled smart gadgets without using signals routed by an Apple home hub device (such as a HomePod or an Apple TV).
One likely scenario is that Thread protocol will allow Apple to stop relying only on Bluetooth for connecting to peripherals like the Apple Watch.

Some believe that the iPhone could communicate directly with Thread-enabled HomeKit hubs, without having to rely on Wi-Fi. Having direct communication may lead to faster HomeKit automations, doing away with the need to route through hubs and allowing devices to respond faster to commands. With Thread on your iPhone you should be able to control Thread devices, like lights, directly without the need of going through a broader router. Being a local protocol, Thread is very fast and uses less power. Another conclusion we can jump to is that it will enable iPhones to control connected smart devices during power outages.

More possibilities? Presence detection. As soon as you walk into your house, your Thread devices will know that you are back and will respond according to a pre-programmed method. Presence detection becomes easy with UWB chips that are already in most iPhones and HomePods.

As for replacing Bluetooth, there can be some interesting implementations, especially when it comes to connecting peripherals to smartphones, like smartwatches. In case Apple adds a Thread radio to the Apple Watch, the wireless protocol can be used to connect it to the iPhone. At the moment, Thread is only on two iPhones, so the appeal is limited until the chip rolls out down the product line.

The inclusion of Thread remains shrouded in mystery but Apple must be having bigger plans.

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