04 Aug Apple announces “HomeKit”
By Conor McGill
As is always the case at the annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, a host of exciting product updates and potentially disruptive new offerings were unveiled to the early adopters and industry journeymen in attendance.
Some of the highlights included OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 and an app called Health, a collaboration with the Mayo clinic that links fitness accessories, personal health data and a network of physicians with the user.
The theme of the event was apparently “this one’s for the developers!”, as there was not a single mention of new hardware and lot’s of lip service paid to new operating system features, cloud capabilities, app visibility in the App Store, and programming tools.
One of the SDK’s (software development kits) that caught our eye was HomeKit, Apple’s first significant step into the smart home market. With it, Apple promises to “provide seamless integration between accessories that support Apple’s Home Automation Protocol and iOS devices” . Unsurprisingly, they have chosen to use their own proprietary protocol instead of piggybacking on one of the existing players such as Zigbee, Z-wave or Insteon.
Imagine controlling your thermostat, security systems, smart appliances and lights from a single interface. You could monitor security cameras trained on your front door from halfway around the world, turn off lights and turn on the tv for a movie night without getting up from the couch, or turn the fridge down on a hot day so the beer is icy cold when you get home from work.
The technology for all this already exists but control systems can be clunky and expensive, HomeKit has the ability to facilitate cross-platform integration and consumer accessibility.
Moreover, all these capabilities will be integrated with Siri, so forget the days of opening an app and trying to remember which “scene” dims your living room lights and puts Burt Bacharach on the stereo, just tell her you have a hot date and she’ll take care of the rest.
The announcement of HomeKit at WWDC has spurned another round of speculation about Apple’s plans to upgrade and expand the functionality of Apple TV . In order to have true remote control, that is the ability to control your home from a different Wi-Fi network anywhere on Earth, you would need a computer powered-on and connected anytime you are away from home. Although the Apple TV doesn’t have the guts to do that just yet, they could easily soup it up to do the job.
If HomeKit is successful, home automation is liable to get the full Apple workover: beautiful, easy-to-use, secure apps that sacrifice customizability and open-source improvement. This, as we know, is the technological trade-off that has fueled so many debates in the last decade of mobile device evolution. One thing that can’t be argued is that Apple has a long track record of revolutionizing industries from telecommunications to musi, and with HomeKit, it looks like they have their sights set on the connected home.