Apple introduced the home automation HomeKit at WWDC 2014. With HomeKit you can control your home smart devices from your iPhone or iPad. HomeKit lets you control the lighting, air conditioner or heater with Siri. HomeKit is part of iOS since iOS8.
HomeKit for smart devices in the home
See also: HomeKit compatible devices
What is HomeKit?
HomeKit is a platform that allows devices in the home to ‘talk’ with Apple products. For example, if you have a lamp that is connected to the iPhone via Bluetooth, you can operate it with HomeKit. This is also known as home automation or Smart Home.
HomeKit is not a separate app, but a solution that allows developers to support their own products and applications. A smart home application can thus control your lighting, heating, and other equipment. It does not matter who manufactured the home equipment: HomeKit uses them, they can all communicate with one HomeKit-supporting app. With this Apple solves a practical problem of smart devices: before the arrival of HomeKit, each device was operated from its own app, so they could not work together.
Apple has extensively documented the potential of HomeKit for developers. According to these documents, HomeKit can do the following things:
- Discover accessories and add to your HomeKit Collection. Have you purchased a smart plug or lamp, you can add that to your collection.
- Show, use and edit the data in HomeKit database. You can see which devices are already registered.
- Communicating with accessories and services, so for example, you can turn off the light in the living room.
- Apps from iOS 8 also access widgets, so you can quickly operated devices from the Message Center.
Siri and HomeKit
Apple’s virtual assistant Siri can also use HomeKit. You give commands to Siri by speaking into the microphone. This makes it possible for example to ask Siri to turn down the heat, or turn of the light after a certain amount of time, without having to scroll through settings. A simple voice command is sufficient. The nice thing is that you do not have to give specific assignments, but can also indicate what you will do, for example: ‘I’m going to bed. ” Siri makes sure that the light goes off, the doors are locked and the heating is put down. The smarter accessory makers integrate HomeKit, the better Siri can work with your equipment.
What devices does HomeKit support?
HomeKit can talk to all devices that support the protocol. Hardware manufacturers who want to use HomeKit should contact Apple. Accessory probably must be made with Apple’s Made for iPhone program (MFi), giving manufacturers access to Apple’s documentation.
Manufacturers who have already pledged support for HomeKit are iHome, Texas Instruments, Osram Sylvania, Cree, Chamberlain, Marvell, Skybell, August, Honeywell, Haier, Schlage, Philips, Kwikset, Broadcom, Netatmo, and Withings. In this list are still missing some familiar names, such as Home Wizard, COCO, and Somfy, which are widely used worldwide.
Smaller parties such as Tado have announced support for Apple’s HomeKit. Tado is a solution to serve an existing air conditioning with iOS apps. You can use Tado to change the settings of your air conditioner by giving a voice command.
Apple’s own devices
Apple doesn’t only want to focus on better integration of existing devices. Internally, the company is working with a special team on own smart devices. Those devices must also work closely with existing Apple products, like the Apple Watch.
Why is HomeKit important?
Currently, every smart device works with its own app. There are a few opportunities to make devices work together. When the sun shines you want for instance that the blinds go down, the light will turn on and the air conditioning off. Such scenarios with current systems are nevertheless possible, but they require a higher education electrical engineering. With HomeKit Apple hopes to change that by working together with the big names in the field of home automation. Through one interface, you will soon rule all devices that you can merge into groups. And thanks to the geofencing features in iOS you ensure that lights automatically turn on when you come home, without ever needing any programming.
Internet of Things
The big winners are two companies that are known less for the average consumer: Marvell and Broadcom. They make chips used in connected devices: as Marvell makes a series of microcontrollers that use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee and make it easier for accessory manufacturers to develop new products. Marvell focuses on wearables, home automation, smart appliances, automobiles, lighting and many other applications that could use some more intelligence. Broadcom is already working with Apple and has a chipset planned for iOS devices. Marvell and Broadcom will play an important role in the Internet of Things, with all sorts of devices ‘connected’.
Security in HomeKit
One of the greatest fear of users is that others may simply hack when a physical key is no longer required and that pranksters can play with your lighting by simply breaking into your network. Apple says they have organized security well with HomeKit. Apple CEO Craig Federighi said during the WWDC presentation that they use “a common network protocol That HAS secure pairing so only your iPhone can unlock your garage door.