First Batch Of Apple-Certified Smart Home Devices Will Launch Next Month


Aaron Tilley, Forbes Staff

May 15, 2015

HomeKit, Apple’s protocol for hooking up smart home gadgets in iOS, has been a long time coming. It was first announced at Apple’s June 2014 developers conference, but we haven’t heard much else since then. In a rare statement on the program, Apple said we’ll start to see the first HomeKit-certified devices out on the market next month. In a statement an Apple spokesperson provided to Forbes, the company said: “HomeKit has been available for just a few months and we already have dozens of partners who have committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market and we’re looking forward to the first ones coming next month.”

Apple is countering a story from Fortune this morning that reported the official launch of HomeKit was getting pushed back to the August or September timeframe instead of the expected May or June. Based on anonymous sources, the Fortune story said that Apple has been encountering a number of issues and that the HomeKit code has been taking up too much memory on the small devices.

The HomeKit protocol has been embedded in the iOS software since the iOS 8 launch last year. We haven’t seen any HomeKit-certified devices released yet, but a number of device makers have announced their efforts of working through certification, which is run under Apple’s MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”) program. Apple has started granting HomeKit certification to behind-the-scenes players like chipmaker Broadcom, which will provide Apple-certified chips for working on devices for the HomeKit ecosystem. Broadcom received certification for its hardware development platform using its Bluetooth-Wifi combo chips that device makers can use to build a HomeKit-compatible device. But once device makers build all their hardware on Broadcom’s development kit, they will still have submit their gadgets to Apple’s MFi program for quality assurance.

Apple’s HomeKit protocol determines how devices are identified in iOS based on clearly defined device categories and what sorts of actions can be taken with them — turning on or off a light, for example. Ideally, this will allow the interactions between devices to be more consistent and reliable than with previous wireless protocols in home automation technology like ZigBee and Z-Wave. HomeKit also uses end-to-end encryption for securely connecting smart home gadgets and an Apple device.

Next month is Apple’s annual developers conference and there have been reports that Cupertino tech giant will be launching a refresh of its Apple TV hardware, which will have a beefier processor and HomeKit capabilities.

This article was written by Aaron Tilley from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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