Apple’s hidden a secret something in the latest iPads and Macs

The latest MacBooks, iPads and iMacs have a key feature that hasn't been activated yet

Apple MacBook Pro M3
(Image credit: Apple)

The new MacBook Pros, iMacs and iPads have a secret something inside them: Threads smart home tech. That means they're following in the footsteps of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which also contain Threads radios – and while they don't appear to be operational just yet they could be important.

The devices that appear to include Threads radios are:

  • iPad Pro 13-inch (M4) (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (M4) (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (M4) (Wi-Fi)
  • iPad Air 11-inch (M2) (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
  • iPad Air 13-inch (M2) Wi-Fi
  • MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)
  • MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3)
  • MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3 Pro or M3 Max)
  • MacBook Pro 16-inch (M3 Pro or M3 Max)
  • iMac (M3, two ports)
  • iMac (M3, four ports)

What does Threads mean for Macs, iPads and iPhones?

The news comes via The Verge, which spotted that in Apple's regulatory filings for the new devices it included details of Threads radio tests for them. That's because the US mandates that radios in any device must be disclosed and they must be tested to ensure they won't interfere with other radios. As The Verge puts it, "Generally, you don’t test a radio that’s not there."

Threads is the main wireless communications protocol used by Matter, the smart home interoperability standard, and by Apple Home. It's a low-energy, low-bandwidth way for smart home devices to communicate with each other and with apps, and it's been in the HomePod mini since 2020 and in the most recent and most expensive Apple TV 4K too. 

The inclusion of Threads in these new devices could mean more smart home control options, as it would enable your Mac or iPad to communicate directly with smart home kit instead of going via a router. But as The Verge says, Threads can also be used for connecting accessories such as smart watches, smart trackers and input devices too.

Apple hasn't commented yet, but when it announced the Threads radios in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max it said that they were "opening up future opportunities for Home app integrations". With WWDC happening next week we might not have long to wait to find out what those integrations might be.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).