Apple Announces New Smart Home Products
Several new home products have been announced ahead of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. While the new products aren’t made by Apple, they’re the first to use the HomeKit technology announced this time last year.
The HomeKit is a framework on which software can be built in order to enable smart home devices to connect to and be controlled by voice commands on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. A dashboard accessed through the homescreen on iOS allows for a siri-integrated experience for home automation. When the software was announced, Apple revealed partnerships with several device makers such as Philips and August.
Five device creators have announced the first products to use Apple’s software and they do a range of jobs from dimming the lights to adjusting room temperatures by connecting to iOS devices and being voice controlled. The products will be available from the end of this month and it is thought that Apple will use WWDC to speak more about integration with the HomeKit.
A maker of clocks and audio accessories compatible with iOS devices named iHome has announced a SmartPlug which it says will be available from the end of June. The SmartPlug allows users to control their lighting and other devices by speaking commands to Siri.
The Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit from Luton Electronics will allow users to control their lights, thermostats and window shades using just their smartphone. The kit contains remote control dimmer switches, a smart bridge and wireless plugs. In addition, the software will notify homeowners if they forget to turn the lights off before leaving home.
Insteon has created a hub which is compatible with the HomeKit and allows users to control many home gadgets including light bulbs and door locks, while Elgato has created a range of Eve sensors that detect and record temperature, humidity, air quality and motion.
Ecobee is the final device maker on the list to announce that a home automation product will be compatible with the HomeKit. Its wireless thermostat can now be controlled through Siri, allowing users to adjust their heating or air conditioning with their voice.
There are currently now 15 products listed on Apple’s website and available to use with Apple devices. Each carries a badge on the packaging that reads ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’. Once a HomeKit enabled accessory is paired with an iOS device, Siri can be used to control them by saying things such as “turn on the lights in the kitchen”. While doors can be locked using Siri, they can’t be unlocked so as not to compromise security by using an iOS device.
Those with a third generation or later Apple TV will be able to control their smart home accessories when they’re away from home by using their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to command Siri to turn the accessories on, off or perform another action. Some accessories can also be grouped together to create a whole house, individual rooms or scenes in order for them to be controlled with just one command to Siri. The ability to do this depends on the individual apps used to control the accessories. As well as this, some accessories can be used when the iOS device is locked, while others will only allow commands to Siri when the device is unlocked.
A feature that many will welcome for the new smart home products is that they can be controlled by more than one user- the main user is called the administrator, while permission can be given to others known as shared users.
The announcement of these products comes after Google announced its Internet of Things operating system for home accessories called Brillo. While the Apple HomeKit allows users to control their smart home products using their iOS device and Siri, Google Brillo is focused on providing a platform for accessories to be compatible with one another and communicate with each other. It isn’t yet clear if products built on the Brillo software system will be compatible with the HomeKit so that they can be controlled by Siri.
Expect more products to be announced that work with the Apple HomeKit as the year progresses and as the world pushes forward into the idea of an automated, connected home.