After a sluggish start, Apple HomeKit is gradually speeding up with the launch of the recent iOS 8. Introduced worldwide during the WWDC2014 in San Francisco, the HomeKit is hoping to reinvent the wireless home automation experience.
Reinventing a relatively new technology
A smart home is not exactly a revolutionary idea. In this decade, manufacturers have already begun to integrate appliances such as televisions, fridges and A/C systems with smartphone automation features. However, what Apple seems to want to do is to provide a whole new home experience by consolidating control over all of the aspects of the home.
This means, for example, that you can tell Siri to “get ready for bed” and this command will automatically dim your bedroom lights, pull the blinds down, adjust the A/C to your evening preset, and presumably lock the doors.
Security and partner manufacturers
The developer presentation at WWDC2014 mentioned the importance of security and privacy. They illustrated how all of the home data collected and generated by each appliance from any partner manufacturer gets sent to the Apple common database, which is in turn accessible by those same manufacturers. He pointed out end-to-end encryption between iOS devices and home appliances as a solution to the security and privacy question. All of these features are implemented through MFi (Made For iPhone) standards that every partner manufacturer has to comply with in order to get licensed.
Obviously, Apple wants to get it right, which is why it’s been focusing on implementing its security and privacy paradigm with its MFi standards program.
Coming very soon
Apple has just finalized their MFi program, and more third-party hardware manufacturers are expected very soon, after having worked HomeKit into AppleTV. Here are a few interesting products that have been confirmed to work with HomeKit: August (smartlock), Philips Hue, Chamberlain MQ Garage, Netatmo Weather Station, and Withings Smart Baby Monitor.