Fix unresponsive Thread devices on HomeKit
Some folks, myself included, have had major hassles when adding our first Thread compatible devices to our HomeKit setup. A handul of customers of the new Nanoleaf Essentials products are finding these devices far less performant and reliable than would be expected, and Nanoleaf is pointing the finger squarely at Apple.
The issue seems to be related to to setups that have more than one HomePod Mini already on the network. Adding the new Nanoleaf devices goes smoothly, but shortly afterwards you may start seeing No Response on those accessories in the Home app, or have disappointingly poor response times.
The thinking at present is that there is a bug in the way multiple Apple Thread border routers are handling status updates, but it may actually be some issue with certain Homepod minis given it’s not affecting everyone. We don’t have anything official from Apple, and 14.5 doesn’t seem to have completely resolved this. Although things have improved with successive HomePod OS updates since 14.5, but I’m still seeing poor response times on occasion.
When this occurs, you can reliable poke things to get them going again. I’ve run this myself and it’s absolutely works to resolve the Thread issues and also improves my HomeKit setup’s performance in general. It seems when Thread is acting up it can affect the response time of other random devices as well.
NOTE: Keep in mind this is not a permanent fix, but a workaround to resolve problems while we wait for Apple to stabilize things. You could even automate this process by putting the HomePod Minis on smart outlets and running and Shortcut automation every night.
Make sure that Nanoleaf products AND the HomePods are up to the latest firmware release. Do this in the Nanoleaf app and the Home app respectively.
Power off (unplug) the HomePod Minis.
After 10 seconds, plug in the first Mini and let it boot.
Wait for a few minutes and test the response time of your Nanoleaf bulb in the Home app.
Once the bulb is responding instantly to on/off commands, plug in the next Mini.
Repeat this for any other Minis you have, confirming things are responding well before powering on each one.
Even with no HomePods present the Thread network still exists between the accessories you have, you just can’t talk to them. This process seems to clear out any contention the HomePods have from adding the first Thread accessory to the network and gets them to behave properly.
Thread holds great promise as the ultimate smart home communication protocol. It’s lightweight, low power, fast, self healing and completely decentralized. In HomeKit’s case it solves the limitations of both WiFi (power hungry) and Bluetooth (reliability).
Being new and with only limited market penetration so far, it’s not surprising that we will see some teething issues. We’re on the cutting edge here, and the kinks will undoubtedly get worked out in subsequent iOS updates.