Apple

HomeKit is finally on its way: Get ready to control your house from an iPhone

Apple's HomeKit has been in development for a year. Reports indicate it might actually go live in iOS 9.

Apple SVP Craig Federighi introducing HomeKit at WWDC 2014.
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

A year ago, before the 2014 edition of Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), rumors were flying about a new whole-home control system that would unify the huge variety of apps needed to control the Internet of Things (IoT) with an iPhone.

At WWDC, Apple announced HomeKit, a software development kit meant to unify all the various apps to control everything from garage door openers to ceiling fans.

And yet, if you ask Siri to open your garage door, she replies that no devices are connected and promises to assist "once you've set something up." That's because HomeKit-enabled devices (much like CarPlay-equipped automobiles, except for the Ferrari FF) haven't launched yet.

But according to reports, that's all about to change. Apple recently stated that HomeKit-compatible devices will begin shipping next month, coincidentally (or not) following WWDC 2015. A report from Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac says iOS 9 — the next version of Apple's mobile operating system, expected to premier at WWDC next month — will include a new app called Home.

iOS 9 users with smart devices will be able to use either the Home app or Siri to control any number of devices and accessories. According to Gurman, the Home app is said to be "fairly basic," with the following functions:

  • Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
  • Creating a virtual representation of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect HomeKit devices
  • Utilizing the Apple TV as a hub connecting all of the HomeKit devices
  • Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps

The report does include a number of caveats, noting that the app might not be ready for public launch at WWDC, and, in fact, it could never launch to the public, meant instead for internal testing only.

I'm a huge fan of the connected home. I own a number of smart devices including the Nest Thermostat (and the troubled Nest Protect smoke detector), Philips' Hue light bulbs, Big Ass Fan's Haiku, and a Chamberlain connected garage door opener. At the moment, I need to keep all the apps on the front page of my iPhone if I need to open anything.

homekitjgolson052115.jpg
The smart home apps on my iPhone.
Image Jordon Golson/TechRepublic

Once HomeKit launches, I hope I can use Siri to "turn off the fan" or "open the garage door." It'll be even better if I can use the "Hey Siri" function of the Apple Watch, which would allow hands-free use of the service to accomplish all these tasks ("turn on the porch light!").

The ultimate, easy-to-use connected home is near, but the longer I wait, the more frustrating it all becomes. Come on Apple, get your Kit together!

Do you have smart home devices that could be unified by HomeKit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Also see

Note: TechRepublic and ZDNet are CBS Interactive properties.

About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox