Apple’s HomeKit Is a Step Towards the IoT.

Apple HomeKit release date rumours: Apple’s system for controlling gadgets in your home coming this spring

With HomeKit and iOS 8, Apple has promised to bring the Internet Of Things (IoT) and home automation to iOS. But when is HomeKit coming out? We can already buy home automation devices, but when will you be able to buy HomeKit devices for iPhone and iPad? Here’s our HomeKit release date and rumours article.

by Lou Hattersley | 26 Jan 15

When Apple first introduced iOS 8, Tim Cook announced that Apple is working on a new Apple system called HomeKit. With HomeKit, developers can build gadgets for your home that can connect directly to the iPhone and iPad so that you can control them. You will be able to control heating, lighting, security and other home appliances and systems via an Apple device. Read: What is Apple’s HomeKit?

HomeKit is closely related to The Internet of Things (or IoT). You might have heard of that buzzword, and IoT is big news in the tech industry at the moment. As devices become cheaper to make, and wireless devices become smaller and easier to integrate, we are going to see a big push to hook up the technology in our home to the internet.

With HomeKit, Apple is set to unify all the different IoT devices into one system – all plugged in and ready to go, via your iPhone or iPad. Reports suggest you will be also able to control HomeKit accessories and appliances in the home using Siri and that the Apple TV will be part of the equation that makes Siri integration possible.

HomeKit release date: When will HomeKit products come out?

Apple first announced HomeKit in September 2014, but there have been no HomeKit announcements since, and we are still waiting for news of the launch from Apple.

However, this hasn’t stopped a number of home automation vendors showing off their products using Apple’s HomeKit frameworks at CES at the beginning of January. A number of gadget makers are hard at work integrating Apple’s HomeKit frameworks into their products.

With all the hype around home automation, and so many companies producing products for the connected home, it is curious that no HomeKit ready products have launched yet. What is holding Apple up?
Presumably Apple’s still working on the necessary software for the consumer side of its HomeKit framework for developers, we’re expecting to see a Home app that will enable users to control all their appliances from their iPhone. Siri is said to play a part in this communication, so it could be that Apple is still testing this implementation.

Indeed, it has been suggested that in order for Siri to control the gadgets in your home when you aren’t in, it will be necessary to rely on the Apple TV to communicate with HomeKit ready products. If that is the case an Apple TV software update may be necessary (although an update to the Apple TV has already bought HomeKit features).

Another suggestion is that there are a number of HomeKit ready products waiting for approval from Apple, but Apple hasn’t yet verified any. Why would Apple be making venders wait? One suggestion is that Apple will hold an event to introduce its connected home solution, probably alongside the launch of the Apple Watch, At this event we may also see an update to the Apple TV, although not necessarily a hardware update.

Here’s a round up of HomeKit products that have already launched, or are coming soon: Remote control HomeKit products round up

HomeKit FAQs: What does HomeKit do?

HomeKit is a system for developers who want to build home automation gadgets that can be controlled from one easy to use iPhone or iPad app. Consumers will benefit, but only once developers start releasing home automation products based on the HomeKit system.

Whenever you hear an Apple term with the word ‘kit’ at the end, that’s your clue that Apple has made something for developers. Other examples include Sprite Kit for games developers and HealthKit for fitness device developers. HomeKit is a framework of functions that enables developers creating Wi-Fi devices, such as wireless heating and lighting systems, to connect them to an iOS device in an orderly manner.

HomeKit is a software framework that enables developers to integrate internet-connected home devices with iOS apps. Rather than having to build the connections from scratch, HomeKit offers a whole set of systems that developers can use to integrate iOS apps with wireless devices.

In order to get involved with HomeKit, developers have to sign up for Apple’s Made for iPhone (Made For iPhone (MFi) programme. This enables hardware manufacturers to create products that carry Apple’s MFi logo. It also ensures that customers are buying a product that uses legitimate Apple connections, and something we can be sure will work with the iPhone and iPad. Hardware developers have to pay Apple to be in the MFi program, but it is integrated systems like HomeKit that prove the worth of these systems.

Apple often talks about how its integrated hardware and software approach gives it an edge over other manufacturers (who may specialise in one or the other). Systems like HomeKit extend that hardware and software integration to third-party manufacturers.

HomeKit FAQs: Is there going to be a Home app that controls all HomeKit devices?

Will Apple introduce a dedicated Home app to go alongside HomeKit? It seems logical, but Apple isn’t talking.

On the surface, a Home app seems to make sense: after all, Apple’s HealthKit system has its own Health app (introduced in iOS 8). But it may well be that HomeKit isn’t viewed or treated in the same way. That it’s not really an app, but a system that enables developers to integrate their own apps with devices they build.

So far we haven’t seen any evidence of a dedicated Home app to sit alongside Health. However, we keep hearing that HomeKit is really about Siri integration. Rather than connecting to a separate Home app, the devices will be controlled directly via Siri – which could well provide the single-app convenience that users would want from a Home app.

HomeKit, Siri and the Apple TV

It is thought that you will be able to use Siri to turn on the lights, unlock the door, and turn up the central heating when you arive home.

However, if you are away from home the only way you will be able to control your gadgets using Siri is if you have an Apple TV. There is evidence that the Apple TV will be part of the HomeKit line up: HomeKit was added to Apple TV at the same time as the iOS 8.1 update came our – if you have installed Apple TV Software version 7.0.1 your Apple TV is HomeKit ready.

But why is it necessary to use the Apple TV at all? If you have a central heating system such as Hive, you should be able to control it from the iPhone app whereever you are. The idea that you could only control it if you were in your home seems to be the opposite of the objective – you should be able to turn the heating off when you don’t need it, or turn it up when you are on your way home. Given that these apps can be controlled remotely, without needing the Apple TV or some other hub, why would Apple’s HomeKit require Apple TV.

We’s be inclined to think that this Apple TV HomeKit connection was a red herring, except that Apple Ars Technica in January 2015 to confirm that the Apple TV is acting as an intermediary when you’re issuing Siri voice commands to your home from a remote location.

According to ArsTechnica, Apple says the device is less of a “hub” meant to tie all of your devices together and more of an entry point to your local network. To avoid the complicated networking configuration sometimes needed to access your private network from the outside world, iOS devices will send your voice commands to your Apple TV, and the set-top box will then pass that command on to the relevant HomeKit device.

HomeKit and security

You might be concerned about using HomeKit for your home security – how easy will it be for someone to gain access to your home if your iPhone is stolen? What if you forget your password? Will you be able to get into your own house? Security is paramount for products such as home security systems, since they provide access to your house, and it is essential that you have confidence in the security Apple has baked in to the HomeKit framework, and its ability to fix any vulnerabilities as soon as they’re discovered.

Apparently HomeKit will be secure. The products will use either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (in many cases, both) and thanks to HomeKit, your iPhone will just recognise the devices you want to control. Your iPhone will shares your Wi-Fi details with the device, and thanks to iCloud Keychain, you will be able to authorise other iPhones and iPads to control the device too without having to repeat the process and without needing to remember a password.

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