Apple's support for HomeKit Secure Routers might be on the rocks as vendors struggle to join its program

Linksys Velop router on a small drawer.
(Image credit: Linksys)

When Apple announced the HomeKit Secure Routers feature back in 2019 it had a lot of promise. The idea, we were told, was to tie HomeKit into network routers and mesh systems so as to add a new layer of security and privacy. It was supposed to make it easier for people to configure their routers and have everything work as it was intended to, especially when using HomeKit-powered accessories. The whole thing would be managed via the Home app, but router support was slow to arrive. And as you'd expect, it never did come to the budget models your ISP gives you. Now, it looks like it probably never will.

Apple is no stranger to abandoning features and services — Ping, we hardly knew ye — but it looks to be at it again, this time with HomeKit Secure Routers. The feature, not to be confused with the more popular HomeKit Secure Video, requires that Apple give the go-ahead for companies to add support for it. And to do that, those companies have to apply. However, a new report claims that Apple is currently not accepting new routers onto the program with no suggestion of when that could change.

The result, right now at least, is that the HomeKit Secure Routers we have on sale today might well be the last that are made available. Two different router vendors say that they tried to get Apple to add it to the HomeKit Secure Router program, only to be told that it is no longer accepting additions. What that means for those who already have them up and running at home, however, remains to be seen.

Abandoned?

While we don't know the two router vendors in question, AppleInsider reports that it told the outlet at CES 2024 that it was given the no-go by Apple after asking to be part of its program.

"During CES 2024, two router vendors separately told AppleInsider that Apple is no longer accepting new routers into its program," the report explains. "If that claim is correct — and it probably is, since it came from the same rejected manufacturers — given the lack of HomeKit Secure Routers on the market, it appears that Apple has abandoned the idea."

However, it's important to note that Apple has yet to confirm the status of the program or whether new vendors can indeed join it, but things don't look good based on the information that is already available. It's also important to note that Apple's own website currently only mentions a pair of compatible routers — one from Amplifi, and one from Linksys.

Why Apple might choose to abandon HomeKit Secure Routers is a matter for debate, but it always seemed unlikely that router companies would willingly hand over control of the management of their hardware to the Home app. In recent years companies like Linksys and others have made a big deal out of their apps and how easily they can be used to set up, configure, and manage even complicated mesh Wi-Fi systems. As AI features also start to join the discussion, a vendor's own app becomes more vital than ever before.

Ultimately, if Apple really has started to cool on its HomeKit Secure Router vision it's time that it put it out to pasture for good, rather than leaving it fester. Another option would be to launch its own router, but it's been years since the AirPort was discontinued and we have to imagine that would have happened by now if it was ever part of Apple's plans.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.