Apple HomeKit: The Future of Home Automation
Apple’s Entry Into The Smart Home Market
It’s no secret that Apple isn’t afraid of pushing the envelope when it comes to bold new technology. Their iPod helped to fuel a music revolution, their iPhone helped to fuel a smart phone revolution, and their highly respected industrial design standards have set the bar for great tech design the world over. The company is also known for innovative software: in addition to OS X and iOS, they’re responsible for programs like Final Cut Pro and Keynote, as well as everyone’s favourite digital assistant Siri. Now, Apple is taking a stab at the smart home market with Apple HomeKit.
This is Apple’s home automation system — a way to control everything in your home, right from your iPhone or iPad. And in case you missed the key word in that last sentence, here it is again: everything. Apple HomeKit eliminates the need for an app for each smart device you own; you don’t need one set of controls for the lights, another for the thermostat, and another to check whether the front door is locked. Instead, everything is integrated in a single system with the smooth user experience that we’ve come to expect from Apple.
Apple HomeKit – iOS And The IoT
Lately, there’s been more of an emphasis on total connectivity not only among people, but among devices — the so-called IoT, or Internet of Things. HomeKit takes the small pieces loosely joined (to repurpose David Weinberger’s term) of your personal IoT and puts them under one control. More than that, HomeKit provides for device grouping so that each device doesn’t need to be adjusted individually, and it allows users to define what it calls Scenes.
For example, a wake-up Scene might include the following functions through HomeKit: raising the thermostat, switching on the lights from the bedroom to the bathroom, turning on the news, and getting the coffeepot brewing. What’s more, as with most controls on Apple’s iOS, you don’t even have to open an app or touch anything — you can just talk to Siri. So, a command like, “Siri, let’s wake up” would set into motion the automated functions in the Scene described here.
Apple’s Magic Touch
Apple making an entry into the smart home market is not only good news for Apple fans, but it is good news for developers of smart devices that might work with HomeKit. Historically, when Apple has developed new hardware, it’s helped other industries thrive. Consider the music industry and legal downloads when the iPod was introduced, or app developers when iOS and the iPhone first came out. Things definitely look rosy for companies that produce devices that can be integrated into Apple’s HomeKit.
It’s also a boon to consumers as well. As things stand now, the smart home market is full of individual devices that each require a separate set-up and app to use. Install three or four in a home, and usage becomes cumbersome. With HomeKit, every smart device can be used with a single app, streamlining the entire home automation process and creating a better user experience.
Is This The Future?
Apple has a long history of breaking a market wide open and taking a given technology from early adopters to the masses. With this in mind, I have to ask: will Apple HomeKit do for home automation what the iPhone did for smart phones?
It very well might. Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world; it’s stable and it’s trusted. While Apple hasn’t always had the golden touch (Lisa, Newton, and eWorld, anyone?), the overwhelming majority of their technologies, especially in the last decade, have been incredibly successful. Keep your eyes open for Apple HomeKit. It may be coming to a home near you.