How HomeKit works
The ins and outs of Apple’s home automation system
From day one, Apple made it clear usability was at the forefront of HomeKit. On stage at WWDC 2014, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said Apple’s aim was to “bring some rationality” to the world of home automation, which had a tendency to intimidate people with its varying – and often incompatible – networking protocols and security mechanisms.
HomeKit is Apple’s answer. A framework developers can utilise to provide you with the means to set up and manage a smart home. This will all be done from your iOS device, which will communicate with accessories over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Wi-Fi. While you’ll have to spend some time determining said setup (see ‘Managing rooms’, overleaf ), the time-savings and convenience when done will be considerable. Federighi explained you’ll be able to say to Siri something like “get ready for bed” and know your garage door is closed, front door locked, thermostat lowered and lights dimmed.
Naturally, commands to smaller, user-defined groups or just single HomeKit-enabled products will also be possible, and Apple’s developer documentation talks about creating timestamped triggers that can repeat. Usefully, definitions will synchronise over iCloud if you own multiple iOS devices.
Additionally, Apple confirmed to Ars Technica that you won’t need to be within your Wi-Fi network to control your devices – if you have an Apple TV handy. Apple’s little black box will act as an intermediary, providing an entry point into your network when you’re sending commands. Your voice commands will be sent to your Apple TV, interpreted and passed on to the relevant accessories.
HomeKit isn’t designed to work with every smart home product on the market – only those that are confirmed compatible and approved by Apple – but third-party hardware bridges will be available to connect MFi-certified non-HomeKit smart home accessories, albeit with some limitations – see Security and Privacy (overleaf ).
With HomeKit, just a few words could trigger multiple actions around the house, making life a whole lot easier.