Many of the rumors that circulated before Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) did not come to fruition (again, pun intended) — our speculation can be referenced here. One that did bear fruit seems to have underwhelmed most developers, the press and the general public, perhaps because exactly what Apple’s small entry into smart places is isn’t clear. Even the system’s name, HomeKit, doesn’t really convey exactly what it does.
Common network protocol with secure networking to ensure only your iPhone can open your garage door or unlock your door.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering
Apple HomeKit neither an application nor a piece of hardware… at best, it is a protocol that could be used with new iOS 8 that was announced. It will potentially allow iPhones and iPads to communicate wirelessly with smart home devices; something that is already possible for connected locks, light bulbs, appliances and many more. The system appears to have the potential for adding functionality to already existing devices along with voice control from Siri.
Aside from that, the most substantial part of HomeKit may be an approval program similar to Apple’s “Made for iPhone” — as we (and many others) predicted. Apple has already announced cooperation with connected device manufacturers, including Philips Hue, iHome, Sylvania, August, Honeywell, Haier, Schlage, Kwikset and more.
If these assumptions are correct, any question of an iHouse or iOffice is effectively moot. Users will still need smart devices and a hub to connect those devices to the network. An outstanding question (as asked in the earlier piece) would be the selection of wireless connection: will Apple embrace one or more of the established systems (like ZigBee or Z-Wave) or, potentially, focus on their own iBeacon technology?
As is so often the case with seemingly small announcements from Apple: a few may see great potential in the idea and fewer still will develop for it. If that small group can entice the public (and/or the powers that be at Apple), that innocuous announcement can turn into a world-changing system.