This review is somewhat unusual as it is not for the iPad itself but instead for its ability to act as a HomeKit Hub.
Apple added the ability to use an iPad as a HomeKit Hub in iOS 9, and the oldest currently supported iPad is the iPad Air 2.
The iPad does support the full functionality of a HomeKit Hub, including support for automations and remote access. However, unlike all other HomeKit Hubs, it typically isn't always powered on, nor is it always kept at home. To effectively use an iPad as a HomeKit Hub, you must give up one of the most significant features of the iPad: portability.
Realistically, nobody is buying an iPad just for use as a HomeKit Hub, but plenty of folks have an old iPad or two laying around that could be repurposed.
A frequent suggestion is to mount the iPad on a wall in "kiosk" mode, locked to the Home app (or similar third-party HomeKit controllers), powered using PoE (low-voltage allows you to run it through walls with fewer safety concerns). However, the reality is that a fixed position controller is rarely useful. Instead, for frequent repetitive tasks such as turning on the lights when you get home, a sensor-powered automation provides a better experience.
Despite having two unused iPad Air 2s, the final nail in the coffin is that Apple could drop support for older devices at any time — which would be less than ideal for something mounted to the wall in a very prominent place.
- Free, if you have an old iPad laying around
- Limits portability
- Must always be powered
- Must always be connected to WiFi
Ultimately, the iPad-as-HomeKit-Hub is inconvenient. It either relies on Apple's goodwill to continue supporting older recycled devices or costs more than any other current HomeKit Hub by a good margin. If it's all you have, it's functional, but that's the best praise we can give it.