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.
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.
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.
- Apple says HomeKit devices to start appearing in June (ZDNet)
- Home app for iOS 9 will reportedly tie Apple's HomeKit devices together (ZDNet)
- Haiku ceiling fan for the smart home owner
- Control your garage door from your smartphone with Chamberlain's MyQ Garage
- Nest devices can now talk to the rest of your house
- Apple to introduce new Smart Home features to iOS at WWDC
Note: TechRepublic and ZDNet are CBS Interactive properties.
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.