Ever since Apple announced its HomeKit two years ago at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) users have been excitedly waiting for new ways to fully experience the integrated home. The HomeKit is designed to make all of your devices – from computers to appliances to televisions and more – communicate seamlessly with each other. The idea is to use Siri to control the accessories through voice commands. Although many accessories were shipping with HomeKit abilities, there was no dedicated app to make this happen. Instead users controlled Siri through the accessories app.
All that appears to be about to change. Apple is reportedly readying a HomeKit controller app in iOS, which will be standard. MacRumors reports that Apple will roll out its first centralized controller app at the next WWDC in June. According to MacRumors, the app will be integrated into iOS 10 directly. The highly-anticipated iOS 10 is predicted to be released to the public in the fall of 2016.
So far about 50 manufacturers currently make products which are officially certified as compatible with Apple’s HomeKit protocol. Here is a list of some, but not all, of the most popular companies which are using HomeKit:
iHome (smart plugs and similar devices), Phillips (lighting), GE (color-changing LEDs), Schlage (Sense deadbolts), Honeywell (Lynx security system), Cree (light bulbs), Haier (smart air conditioners), Incipio (Direct Wireless Smart Outlet), Osram Sylvania (lighting), Withings (baby monitors, scales and more), SkyBell (wifi doorbells), Netatmo (air quality sensors), Chamberlain MQ Garage (garage doors), and Friday Smart Lock (locks).
Users who have products that are compatible with HomeKit can control those devices with their iPads or iPhones. This includes using Siri voice commands. While this is helpful, Apple realizes it would be even better to just centralize the functions of all compatible HomeKit products under one app. Then users can avoid installing more than one third-party app just to control their high-tech devices.
Some analysts are underwhelmed by this revelation, since Samsung, Siemens and other manufacturers have beaten Apple to the punch by offering apps that can manage several of the devices that are smart-home connected. These apps are pretty strong, allowing controls to happen from several different manufacturers.
What kinds of devices are online now? It depends on how much of a smart-home you currently have, but anything from blinds to locks to refrigerators to air conditioning can theoretically be part of the connected home. The HomeKit protocol lets users manage their devices any way they want. They can group device into certain rooms, zones or scenes that allow customized setups. This is helpful when you leave the house for the day or go on a vacation. It allows you to have complete control over your house from anywhere in the world.
This year’s WWDC will run from June 13 to June 17, 2016 in San Francisco. Apple is expected to premiere or preview a whole range of products, including software platforms like OS X, watch OS, tv, OS and iOS (the expectation is that iOS 10 will debut). Apple has more than 1 billion devices worldwide. Some also expect to see new computers this summer as well. For more information visit developer.apple.com/wwdc