HomeKit_on_iPhone_5S

To HomeKit Or Not To HomeKit?

I think now is an exciting time for smart house/home automation technology. With the expansion of the World Wide Web to devices other than our computers, our speedy in-home and Wifi technology, and the “do-it all” nature of our mobile devices, it’s only natural that extending the Internet of Things (IoT) to your house/home/casa/domain…Crib (get it now) is as easy as connecting a router-like hub to your home router and whipping out your smartphone to control your lights, thermostat, entertainment center, cameras, and security via an app.

Now the problem is there are too many options. Tech companies from every industry are jumping on the opportunity to cook up services and create devices that will further engulf consumers into their brand “ecosystem” though our everyday home devices, appliances and services. Which creates yet another issue – No uniform standard for smart home control. It’s nice that all my home gadgets can be made to talk to each other, but I don’t want to use fifty-eleven apps, hubs, and services to do so.

HomeKit is Apple’s framework that gives users the ability to securely control all of the different smart house gadgets from our iPod Touch (they still make those?), iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch in one seamless interface.

It’s no secret that I’m an fanboy enthusiast. So of course I’m interested in Apple’s version of easy home automation. The ability to use one app/service on devices my family is already well-acquainted with is my ideal setup – If I can demonstrate how simple it is to use an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to control our home to Mrs. Tech, then she (A.K.A., Chief Financial Officer) will allow me to spend more money on outfitting our house with smart house technology.

Since Apple announced HomeKit a year or so ago, there are a number of brands who have applied for and past Apple’s strict security guidelines to slap a “Works with Apple HomeKit” label on their home automation products. From door locks, to thermostats, to lighting, cameras and security, you can find enough products that integrate with your Apple devices.

Which means, after you get your HomeKit-compatible devices installed and setup, you can use the Apple’s Home app on your iDevices, or the Siri smart assistant, to control individual devices, or create scenes that control a group of devices with one command. No switching between apps, no breakdowns in communication between you and your house.

Sound dope right? Almost – When dreaming up my own #SmartCrib, HomeKit was no question the number one service I planned on utilizing. So I did all the HomeKit research, and started identifying gadgets that works with HomeKit. Come to find out, there are a number of the brands I’ve had my eyes on (and currently own) are not HomeKit compatible at the time of me writing this.

For example, I’ve been low-key jealous of all you Nest Learning Thermostat owners. Probably the number-one smart thermostat on the market is hooked to Google’s ecosystem, so there will probably never be any compatibility between Nest Home and HomeKit. Now I can use Nest products just fine with all my iDevices, but that HomeKit harmony that Apple boasts about, will be missing if I go the Nest route.

Other examples of smart house/IoT products I already down is Amazon Echo, Logitech Harmony and Sonos. The ability to speak my smart house commands via “Alexa”, consolidate all my home entertainment controls into one Harmony remote, and easily pipe tunes throughout the house is super-duper fly. All of the above-mentioned devices work just fine in my house as stand-alone devices…and actually work well together. But are not currently HomeKit approved.

That means that with some app-juggling, and a little help from IFTTT, I can accomplish similar HomeKit operability, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood to “hack” my smart house together. I envision using one interface to control my home, but I also don’t want to be “told” what products I use in my own home.

So do I go with HomeKit and only use compatible devices, at the expense of choice? Or do I expand my smart home options, at the expense of user-friendliness?

To [HomeKit] or not to [HomeKit]…That is the question

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2 Comments

  • Obsidian71

    With Amazon you always risk “being the product” versus buying the product. Amazon’s store and properties are littered with sponsored products and ads. With Alexa no promises have been made to consumers regarding their privacy. Vendors have chafed on HomeKits requirements for security but as a consumer do we really want microphones, cameras and other network devices on our LAN from vendors that consider security an afterthought?

    • BrothaTech

      Good point. HomeKit’s security requirements versus Amazon’s convenience is a good conversation to have when considering home automation.

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