Around 18 months ago, Nanoleaf revealed that their Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements, and Lines products will be updated to enable Thread Border Router functionality. This did come to pass at some point a while ago, but what a recent update has brought is the ability for the Border Router functionality in these devices to be exposed to HomeKit.
This means that these are effectively, the first third-party Thread Border Routers to work alongside – or even in some cases replace – Apple’s own range of Border Routers found within the HomePod Mini, HomePod (2nd gen), and Apple TV4K (2nd gen or 3rd gen w/ 128GB).
The update in question (v8.5.2) was first highlighted by u/ManufacturerOk8154 on the HomeKit Subreddit a few days ago, asking if anyone had noticed any changes since the update. I updated mine and noticed that the two sets of Nanoleaf Shapes that I have here appear to show up in HomeKit via the Eve for HomeKit app, within the Thread Network section. I currently only have four HomePods Mini in the home, which are all listed in the app as ‘Apple Thread Router’, alongside two other devices listed as ‘Router 34’ and ‘Router C8’. This would tally with the two sets of updated Nanoleaf Shapes that have reportedly become full Thread Border Routers exposed to HomeKit, although given the lack of information in the Eve app, it’s hard to be certain.
Nanoleaf themselves stated the following regarding this update;
Firmware version 8.5.2 and iOS/Android app version 9.1.0 are now required to enable Thread border routing on the above products [Nanoleaf Shapes, Elements, Lines]. Matter and HomeKit Thread devices are now fully supported. This update will also utilize Thread network credentials from the ecosystems (if already present) in order to put Nanoleaf border routers on the same Thread network as your border routers from companies like Apple and Google, or share Nanoleaf Thread credentials with the ecosystems and other third parties if credentials aren’t already available when the Nanoleaf border router is turned on.
Additionally – and whether this was already the case with the initial Thread Border Router update – I was able to add a Matter over Thread device to an Amazon Alexa account, whilst not in possession of an Alexa device with Thread Border Router capabilities. During the installation of the aforementioned Matter over Thread device, the Nanoleaf Shapes popped up as options for a Thread Border Router.
This of course can only be good news for users of either HomeKit over Thread or Matter over Thread devices, as it opens up possibilities to utilise Thread where previously it might not be as easy, without purchasing a HomePod Mini, for example.