Is Apple HomeKit dead?

Is Apple HomeKit dead? HomeKit was meant to be the miracle underpinning the connected home, making every appliance, convenience, and gadget, talk to your iPhone and automate much of the modern home. It's still not here. Yet.

What is HomeKit?

Apple HomeKit is a suite of tools developed by Apple, that works as a structure and a programming tool to "talk" to various devices inside and outside the Apple ecosystem.

HomeKit compatibility is certified by Apple, when manufacturers submit a product for certification, and it passes all of Apple's tests. For example, a company who makes a device that opens your curtains builds an instruction set that works with HomeKit, and submits it to Apple for certification. If it passes, than Apple approves the device and the manufacturer can label it as compatible with HomeKit. It can then become part of the HomeKit range, and be controlled on your iPhone or iPad using the Home app.

Using the Home app, you can create triggers and scenes, such as: when you arrive home from work, turn on the lights, open the curtains, and boil the kettle for coffee.

Why isn't HomeKit in the headlines?

HomeKit was introduced many years ago, and was set to become the darling of the automated home universe. With the backing of Apple, HomeKit was seen as the winner, and the default choice for manufacturers who wanted to sell products to Apple's traditionally tech-savvy and cashed-up customers.

Despite a lot of work and many great products coming to market over the years, HomeKit has not been a roaring success.

Initially, the iPhone was seen as the hub to control HomeKit.

Next, Apple TV was going to be the hub and the iPhone or iPad was going to be the remote control.

Next, HomePod was going to be the hub.

HomePod was the perfect intermediary for the HomeKit universe; but then HomePod was announced, delayed, unavailable, delayed again, re-launched, delayed, then shown off at an Apple event, followed by a six month wait to purchase it. Then it was delayed from December 2017 to March 2018.

Even now, HomePod hasn't been the roaring success (as a music speaker) that Apple hoped, and even less so as a central point for HomeKit.

Much has been made of HomePod's awesomeness as a speaker for music playback.

Its other features, including Siri and HomeKit have taken a back seat in Apple's marketing campaign.

Perhaps HomeKit isn't ready for prime time.

Perhaps it is ready, but the hub - the heart of the interconnected HomeKit platform - is still being finalised.

What are we waiting for?

We're waiting for Apple to develop or release a product that can be the hub for HomeKit.

Originally, the hub was going to be the iPhone. Then that plan was scrapped as Mum, Dad, and the kids would all have iPhones, and who gets to control what? And if Mum is in charge, and Mum goes to work, and Dad wants to turn on the coffee, but he doesn't have access to that scene, how will it work?

Next, the hub was going to be the Apple TV. Apple TV got a huge overhaul, internal storage, its own tvOS, upgraded Bluetooth, a Siri enabled remote, and more. It looked like the perfect place to plant a hub. It was always at home, always in the lounge room, available to everyone, always connected to power and wifi, and had internet access. What went wrong?

Then, we thought perhaps the AirPort router would become the home of HomeKit, because it too was centrally located, always connected to power and wifi, and had internet access. Then suddenly Apple killed off their AirPort development team and re-assigned those people to other jobs. Some of them joined the Apple TV team, giving credence to a revival of the hub being the Apple TV - but it never worked out that way.

Focus shifted to the HomePod. Again, the HomePod was centrally located, always connected to power and wifi, had internet access, Bluetooth, microphones, speakers, Siri, and could easily talk to iPhones and iPads. It looked like the perfect solution. However, HomePod was continually delayed, and when it was launched, music worked great, and everything else was mediocre at best.

We're still waiting.

We're still waiting for 'something', 'anything' from Apple, that will become the central hub of HomeKit.

It could be the next update to tvOS on Apple TV. It could be the next update to the HomePod software. It could be that we're waiting for AirPlay 2 to be ready, and arrive on all Apple devices including the TV and HomePod.

Whatever we're waiting for, we're still waiting.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas

XYZtech XYZ Media Group

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