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Netgear offers hotfix for Orbi routers encountering Apple HomeKit problems

Netgear this week released a stopgap firmware update for its Orbi mesh Wi-Fi routers, hoping to cope with a glitch preventing people from using HomeKit accessories.

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The patch is a revision of OrbiOS 2.1.4, which triggered the HomeKit issues in the first place. Netgear warns that the new software must be manually installed, and should only be used if HomeKit problems are surfacing.

A "more permanent fix" is in development, the company noted.

Like other mesh systems, the Orbi is designed to blanket a home with Wi-Fi, filling in dead zones. While Wi-Fi extenders can serve a similar purpose, the mesh approach allows a seamless network with a single SSID, instead of creating multiple hotspots.

The technology can be particularly important for HomeKit-equipped houses, since flaky connections can cause accessories like lights, smartlocks, thermostats and security cameras to become slow or unresponsive when they're needed.

The original release of 2.1.4 was meant to solve problems with Google Home, but caused some HomeKit users to get "no response" alerts for accessories.

Apple recently discontinued its AirPort routers, having left them untouched for years. That's left diehard Apple consumers with no choice but to turn to third-party alternatives.