It has been a year since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released intentions to make HomeKit, its first and only home automation system. The first systems are currently being transported to buyers across the globe.
How it works
The entire system is run through Siri, where its controls homes through third-party devices. It allows the homeowner to have wireless and electronic control of appliances and other features. Further, the language that HomeKit uses can be understood by any smart device, so just because a certain device is not made by Apple, HomeKit can control it. For instance, a light bulb or carbon monoxide detector can be controlled by Siri even if it was made by a completely different company.
To activate HomeKit, choose Siri Integration in the app menu. Then label your home, rooms and choose which items which are to be controlled. When the labels are saved, you are in control after a few minutes.
Every home, device, and setting must have its own name and be accessible by Siri. Siri must recognize which function is needed when a command is dictated.
Yet the user does not have to say every single command before, say, turning off all the lights in the house. Grouping allows for many commands to be accomplished with one general command. By grouping commands together, many actions can be accomplished at once. Thus, turning off all the lights can be as easy as saying “goodnight” and having every light switch off, even if they are in different rooms with different commands.
One big question for the HomeKit is safety, as the entire house may be connected to the internet, and thus vulnerable to hackers. In response, Apple says HomeKit contains privacy and security layers and that it prevents smart devices from being misused. More importantly, however, there is end-to-end encryption between iOS and smart devices. Apple also requires manufacturers to make devices that are compatible with its mobile operating system for compatibility and the important end-to-end encryption.
Is it viable?
One challenge for Apple is that it is placing HomeKit into a growing and competitive market. Google is in the middle of creating its own system called Brillo, while WeMo, from Belkin, has developed smart household appliances from air conditioners to crock pots.
Furthermore, HomeKit is not close to the streamlined device one would expect from Apple. The system has been criticized heavily by users and has experienced severe delays in transportation. For instance, the order of “turn off the lights” is understood without any problems. On the other hand, “shut off the lights” or any variation will end up in an internet search, as Siri cannot recognize the instruction.;
HomeKit will need more work if it is to be competitive in this market, but the upside for consumers is large and so it contains significant potential.
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