Apple is now a part of the Thread Group’s list of members, alongside its top rivals – Nest (a subsidiary of Google) and Amazon. This indicates some advancements in their HomeKit software framework and inter-device communication between iOS devices.
Who is the Thread Group?
The Thread Group is a non-profit company who have developed the network protocol Thread, with the aim of being the best way to connect and control IoT products. These are the features that enable them to do so:
- Mesh networking: It uses mesh network design, connecting hundreds of products securely and reliably, which also means no single point of failure.
- Secure: It provides security at network and application layers. To ensure only authorized devices join the network, it uses product install codes. They use AES encryption to close security holes that exist in other wireless protocols and smartphone-era authentication scheme.
- Battery friendly: Based on the power efficient IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY, it ensures extremely low power consumption. Short messaging, streamlined routing protocol, use of low power wireless system-on-chips also makes it battery friendly.
- Based on IPv6: It is interoperable by design using proven, open standards and IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN (short for, IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks) as the foundation. 6LoWPAN is an IPv6 based low-power wireless personal area network which is comprises of devices that conform to the IEEE 802.15.4-2003 standard
- Scalable: It can scale upto 250+ devices into a single network supporting multiple hops.
What this membership brings to Apple?
The company has not revealed their plans yet, but nothing is stopping us from imagining what they possibly could do with Thread. According to a redditor, the following are some potential use of Thread by Apple
- HomeKit by Apple uses WiFi and Bluetooth as its wireless protocols. WiFi is very power hungry and Bluetooth is short-ranged. With Thread’s mesh network and power-efficient design this problem could be solved.
- Apple only allows certain products to operate on battery, requiring others to be plugged into power constantly, HomeKit cameras, for instance. Critical to both Apple and extended-use home devices, Thread promises “extremely low power consumption.”
- Apple could have plans to provide support for the number of IoT smart home devices the HomePod is capable of connecting to with Thread.
- With the support of Thread, iOS devices could guarantee better inter-device Siri communications, more reliable continuity features, and secure geo-fencing.
Apple joining the group could mean that it may become open to more hardware when it comes to its HomeKit and also become reasonable from a cost perspective in the smart home area.