HomeKit: Apple's Vision for Home Automation

By Andrew Liszewski on at

Apple's just announced another quite-big deal: HomeKit, the Apple platform for home automation. Although there weren't many details, it looks like Apple will be supplying both a software layer for the devices, and a hub for all your thermostats and lights and internet-connected sex toys* on iOS 8.

Instead of jumping head first into the smart home market by allowing iOS users to (finally) control all of their connected appliances and devices from a single app, Apple has instead decided to tip-toe through the connected home's front door with a new API. It ensures everything can be securely connected wirelessly, and controlled using Siri voice commands.

At the moment, fragmentation is the best way to describe the current state of smart home hardware. Light bulbs, speakers, thermostats, smoke detectors, and other Wi-Fi-connected appliances from various manufacturers all use their own proprietary iOS apps, and it was hoped that Apple's WWDC announcements would bring these all together under a unified UI.

But instead of revealing a dedicated iOS app that can control all of the other devices in your house, it looks like Apple is updating the iOS API with a common protocol that makes connecting hardware easier and more secure.

It also allows users to group various smart home devices into what iOS will call 'scenes'—somewhere in the UI—which can be then controlled with simple voice commands like "bedtime" which would dim the lights, turn off TVs, and automatically arm your home's alarm system. Sounds great, as long as your iOS device's battery hasn't died by dinner time.

*OK, so that might be a lie

From OS X Yosemite to iOS 8, here's everything Apple announced at WWDC