Siri, Apple’s infamous voice assistant, will be able to control every connected aspect of your home – at least, that’s part of the vision Apple has laid out with the announcement of HomeKit.
The idea is you’ll be able give Siri instructions such as ‘turn the heating up three degrees’, ‘lock the doors’ or ‘I’m going to bed’ and commands will be automatically sent out from your iPhone.
For those who don’t like talking to their phones in public Apple also wants to let you control smart home tech with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner technology to authorise commands. Control of connected devices will literally be put at your fingertips with Apple HomeKit.
The immediate benefit that this has is convenience – instead of having to dive into your British Gas Hive app to control the heating, the Tado Cooling app to toggle the air-con and open up your BT Smart Home Cam app to
release the hounds surveil your premises, you could do all this with Siri, or Touch ID.
On top of this, HomeKit allows for more secure pairing of devices – unless of course somebody is able to perfectly mimic your voice or steal your fingerprints.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering said: “HomeKit lets your home accessories connect seamlessly to better manage your home. HomeKit delivers a common protocol, secure pairing and the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house.”
Of course fingerprint technology isn’t always perfect and Siri isn’t great at processing out every regional accent out there. How else Apple will be able to authenticate HomeKit commands (facial recognition?) remains to be seen. At present, only your iPhone will be able to issue commands to HomeKit devices which is fine if you live on your own, but what about members of your family and housemates who have Android phones?
Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting is nevertheless excited about HomeKit and the potential is has for products like the Philips Hue smart LED lights. Rondolat says: “We are excited to be part of the next step in making home automation a reality, in a safe and integrated way. HomeKit will allow us to further enhance the Philips Hue lighting experience by making it simpler to securely pair devices throughout the house and control them using Siri.”
At the moment, you can do some pretty amazing things with the Hue bulbs including using IFTTT (If This Then That) to create ‘light recipes’, which trigger events based on things like your GPS location and weather reports.
There’s even a Hue Talk speech recognition app for Android phones which lets you turn the lights on with your voice, so it’s easy to see how Apple HomeKit could move into this space.
HomeKit isn’t limited to controlling single devices either. By grouping devices into ‘scenes’ you could have a whole brace of devices spring into action from a single command.
Federighi added: “With Siri integration you can say something like ‘get ready for bed’ and then be assured that your garage door is closed, your door is locked and your thermostat is lowered and your lights are dimmed.”
To give us an idea of the kinds of things you’ll be able to do with HomeKit, Apple announced a list of smart tech companies keen to get on the HomeKit bandwagon. These include Honyewell, which makes the Evohome smart heating system, Kwikset smart door locks and Chamberlain garage doors.
Recently, Tekoia has revealed plans for its SureMote app which, like HomeKit, wants to be the one-stop shop for home automation on phones. Whether you’re an iOS convert, an Android fanatic, both or neither, it looks like there will be as many ways to control home tech from your phone as there are phones in the not too distant future.
HomeKit represents Apple firmly planting its flag in the emerging smart home landscape and while it’s exciting, it won’t be the be all and end all of remote smart home automation.