Apple support document details HomeKit router features, complicated setup process

Apple announced HomeKit support for routers at WWDC last year, but since then, many of the more specific details have remained a mystery. A new support document recently published by Apple, however, offers new information on how HomeKit routers will work, the setup process, and more.

The elevator pitch for HomeKit routers is that they add more protection to your home accessories. Apple explains that using HomeKit routers will “add more protection to your home accessories by controlling which services and devices they communicate with on your home Wi-Fi network and over the Internet.”

In the Home app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac you’ll be able to customize the level of connection security for each HomeKit accessory. The most secure option will ensure that your HomeKit accessory can only interact with HomeKit through your Apple devices. Here’s how Apple explains the options:

  • Restrict to Home: Most secure. Your accessory can interact only with HomeKit through your Apple devices. The accessory won’t connect to the Internet or any local devices so any third-party services, like firmware updates, might be blocked.
  • Automatic: Default security. Your accessory can communicate with HomeKit and connections recommended by its manufacturer.
  • No Restriction: Least secure. This setting bypasses the secure router and allows your accessory to interact with any device in your network or Internet-based service.

As pointed out by Christopher Close on Twitter, however, the setup process will require you to remove and re-add all of your WiFi-enabled HomeKit accessories. This sounds like a rather annoying experience, especially for people with more complex HomeKit setups:

After setup, add your HomeKit accessories to the Home app. If you already have Wi-Fi HomeKit accessories added to the Home app, remove and reset them, then add them back to the Home app for a more secure connection.

Having to rebuild your entire HomeKit setup from scratch is a tall ask, especially when Apple doesn’t offer any sort of first-party backup functionality for HomeKit accessories. Third-party apps like Controller for HomeKit allow you to backup and restore your HomeKit setup, but it’s unclear how this could integrate with HomeKit routers.

As of right now, there aren’t any HomeKit-enabled routers available. Eero appears close to rolling out the feature to its mesh routers. In a recent note on its website, Linksys said its Velop routers were just a few days away from receiving HomeKit support, but it then backed away from that promise.

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