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Apple has effectively abandoned HomeKit Secure Routers

Craig Federighi introducing HomeKit Secure Routers at WWDC 2019

Apple's HomeKit Secure Routers were announced in 2019 but never really taken up by manufacturers, and now some vendors are claiming Apple is no longer pursuing the technology.

HomeKit Secure Routers were introduced by Craig Federighi at WWDC 2019 and in the same breath as HomeKit Secure Video. The latter took time to reach the market, but it was used, and many manufacturers adopted it, even if others would not.

During CES 2024, two router vendors separately told AppleInsider that Apple is no longer accepting new routers into its program. 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.

Note that AppleInsider cannot absolutely confirm what the vendors claim. And Apple still has active support pages on the matter.

But, it still has support pages on AirPort routers too, and those are as dead as a doornail.

Apple's original proposition

The idea was that "with HomeKit at the router, we'll automatically firewall-off each of your accessories." So "even if one were to be compromised, it wouldn't be able to access your other devices."

"Many accessories don't just connect via HomeKit," Federighi said in 2019, "they also connect via the internet and through your router, and unfortunately, this can leave them open to attack."

"We want to make sure that this can't happen," he continued. "And so we're bringing HomeKit to routers."

At this 2019 launch, Apple said that "the first HomeKit-enabled routers will be coming from Linksys, eero, and internet service providers like Charter Spectrum."

HomeKit Secure Routers have been abandoned in all but name

Even if these unrelated vendors were both mistaken, and Apple has not abandoned HomeKit Secure Routers, it effectively has.

More than four years later, Apple currently lists two HomeKit Routers on its site. They are the Linksys Velop AX4200 and the AmpliFi Alien.

Currently, eero has a notice saying that its eero Pro 6E and eero 6+ do not support Apple Home Kit," and also that "we have no plans to offer Apple Home Kit's router functionality on eero Pro 6 E and eero 6+.

White rectangular Linksys Wi-Fi router with a dotted grille on top against a white background.
LinkSys Velop AX4200 router

Linksys has so far ignored requests to comment. An eero spokesperson did offer a comment, but didn't answer AppleInsider's question.

"HomeKit devices can connect to eero over Wi-Fi and Thread," said the eero spokesperson, "but we do not offer Apple's HomeKit router functionality on our latest devices"

While eero will not say why it has dropped HomeKit Secure Routers, there doesn't appear to be any plan to reintroduce them.

We asked Apple directly about it. We got a response — but we weren't allowed to use in any way, and it didn't contain any substance about the product line as a whole anyway.

Of Apple's two remaining HomeKit Secure Routers listed on its site, the Linksys Velop AX4200 and the AmpliFi Alien, AmpliFi's own description doesn't mention HomeKit. The current Linksys listing does state that it works with HomeKit, but doesn't mention HomeKit Secure.

So that's one of Apple's 2019 launch partners gone and another reduced to a single under-promoted product. Even at that 2019 launch, the Charter Spectrum partnership seemed a bit of a stretch, and today it's hard to prove it ever released a product.

That's an abandoned standard, right there.

Apple hasn't closed the program, but it is effectively dead and stinks of vendor disinterest. Perhaps there could be more vendors signing up, or maybe Apple has big plans.

After all these years of the line being inert, though, it seems unlikely.

Apple could itself make such a router, since it used to make them long before the idea of HomeKit Secure Routers was announced. However, it discontinued its last such AirPort in April 2018, the year before it announced this HomeKit Secure Routers program.