Your iPad's about to take a big step towards being a proper home hub, if new reports are accurate. We've written about Apple's home hub plans before: in October, we reported rumours of a docking accessory that would make your iPad more like a Google Pixel tablet. But this time the reports are about software, and specifically iOS/iPadOS 17.
The report comes via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, and while the article focuses on iPhones the iPad is likely to be the better hub. According to Gurman, Apple is going to turn the Lock Screen into an information hub to show calendar appointments, weather data, notifications and other items, enabling it to work as a smart home hub. The iPad will do the same, but its software may not be ready at the same time as the iPhone update.
Why is the iPad the better home hub?
Because size matters. There's a reason why other smart home hubs aren't phone-sized: small screens aren't the best place to display lots of information or controls.
According to the report there's a similar horizontal interface planned for the iPad, but it's taking longer to develop. Gurman has previously indicated that Apple is also working on a "low-cost", low-end iPad-style device designed specifically for wall mounting as a smart home hub. I do wonder if that's perhaps partly responsible for the reported difficulty, with engineers focusing on not one tablet-sized device but two.
I'd love a decent home hub. As much as I love widgets on my iPhone 14, my iPad is always kicking around when I'm at home and its much bigger Lock Screen currently feels like a wasted opportunity: while you can add widgets to your home screen (if you have iPadOS 15 or later), the Lock Screen is about ten inches of wasted space. Making that into a hub would make Apple's best tablet a lot more useful.