Apple’s HomeKit Finds a Home

Siri comes to the living room, and now she can turn on and off lights, appliances and more.

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Home automation is a tired topic. So tired, in fact, that it remains to be seen if Apple can revive it. Known best for high costs, high barriers to entry, and incompatibilities galore, the concept of unifying and smartening one’s home is an ideal one for Apple to tackle. Ahead of its annual developer gala next week, a trifecta of partner companies have announced HomeKit-approved products for the home. Lutron, iHome and Elgato are launching intelligent lights, plugs and sensors that’ll play nice with the software already in your iPhone, enabling you to (in theory) ask Siri to turn your lights on from afar or power down your television.

To date, those seeking to automate their home have had to buy a “hub” from one of a litany of companies, and then seek out various components that spoke the same language as said hub. Then, you needed to download a third-party app to your smartphone of choice and hope that everything worked in harmony. In practice, this rarely worked as advertised.

HomeKit is Apple’s inbuilt solution to the aforesaid madness. While you’ll still need a hub and things like smart bulbs, smart locks and smart sensors, at least the software will be tightly integrated into iOS. The idea here is that knitting it into the operating system will give all apps (and Siri) the ability to play a role in automating your home.

That said, we’d caution you from sinking too much into the HomeKit ecosystem unless you’re pretty certain you’re going to have an iPhone for life. As we’ve shown before, switching operating systems is no small matter.

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