Apple’s been hiding a Thread radio in iPad Pro 2024, MacBook Pro M3 and more — here’s why that’s a big deal

iPad Pro 2024
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

New Apple tablets and laptops like the iPad Pro 2024 and the MacBook Pro M3 have a hidden feature that could help control your smart home. Once Apple makes it official, anyway.

Reporting by The Verge has confirmed the presence of Thread radios in all Macs and iPads launched since mid-2023. As well as the latest Pro iPad and MacBook models, the radio can also be found in the iPad Air 2024, MacBook Air M3 and iMac M3

Threads support is not mentioned in Apple's specs for any of these devices. But the FCC's device certification reports do acknowledge and test the radios, which is how The Verge was able to confirm they're there.

For context, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max also feature Thread radios, and were the first Apple devices to do so. But this compatibility has yet to be put to proper use.

What's the Matter with that?

So how does this all relate to smart homes tech? Thread is a wireless protocol used by Matter, an up-and-coming smart home architecture that Apple and other device makers like Google and Amazon have developed and adopted together. The hope is this system will make using smart home gear from different manufacturers together much simpler, and will mean you no longer have to specifically seek out accessories designed to work with Alexa or Apple Home, for example.

While we know Apple's been a key player in developing Matter, and that its HomeKit devices can now be controlled using it, we've not seen any big developments since. But with WWDC coming up, perhaps Apple will suddenly unveil what it has planned in this area.

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, begins on Monday June 10th. Apple should announce iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS 15 among other software updates in the keynote for the event; a great opportunity to introduce Matter support officially into more devices. But with rumors of Apple introducing no new hardware at this WWDC, we may have to wait until September for the expected iPhone 16 debut to see any new Threads-powered accessories.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.