Routers that have been specially certified by Apple for its HomeKit home networking technology can still be counted on one hand. Apple currently lists three lines of devices in its official directory: two systems from Eero and one from Linksys. However, there are already more of the “HomeKit enabled routers” officially presented in 2019: Now, with the AmpliFi Alien from Ubiquiti, another device has been added, which primarily appeals to semi-professionals and gamers,
An update is necessary
As with other router models, support for Apple’s smart home system will be added via software update. To do this, you have to give your Amplifi Alien firmware version 3.7.0, which has been available for download via the router’s app for a few days. Support for the so-called Apple HomeKit security feature is mentioned here. However, Ubiquiti explicitly emphasizes that this only applies to “standalone router setups”, i.e. not systems that are operated as a mesh – although this should be one of the preferred operating modes for larger apartments.
Whether this will change with a later update – both Eero and Linksys models with HomeKit are explicitly offered as a mesh – initially remained unclear. Ubiquiti sells the Alien as a mesh kit for a whopping 800 euros, as a single device a router costs 500 euros. The new firmware is installed automatically, but a manual update is also possible. In addition to HomeKit support, Ubiquiti fixes bugs in the firmware and improves time zone support “for some countries”.
What “HomeKit enabled routers” can do
A router with HomeKit should bring some advantages for users of Apple’s smart home standard. Such devices allow you to make your own security settings for all HomeKit-compatible smart home devices in order to ensure that there is less potential for attack. Individual devices are better isolated in this way. For example, the connections of the home automation devices to the Internet can be blocked in order to generally prevent unwanted data transmission.
HomeKit routers offer a total of three levels. These range from the complete isolation of individual smart home devices to unrestricted access to the Internet and other hardware in the network. An automatic mode allows at least certain connections so that devices can continue to receive updates from the manufacturer’s server. Disturbingly, however, a HomeKit Enabled Router does not assume the function of a HomeKit control center that allows access from outside. A “Home Hub”, as Apple calls these devices, must still be available in the local network, i.e. a HomePod (mini), an Apple TV or an iPad connected to the power supply, although the latter will soon no longer support all functions. Apple itself currently no longer offers its own routers.
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