Does Siri Really Need A Key To Your Place?
Apple is placing its own stake in home automation, as revealed Monday at the 25th Worldwide Developers Conference held in San Francisco. HomeKit, introduced by Craig Federighi, a chief executive at Apple, will be part of the upcoming release of iOS 8. Through this software platform, users will be able to turn their iPhone or iPad into a universal remote control for all their home devices.
"We thought we could bring some rationality to this space," Federighi said in his keynote, addressing the host of home automation devices already existing on the market. With HomeKit's Siri integration, along with its ability to group devices into scenes, users can simply command their phones to 'get ready for bed' and a sequence of lights dimming and doors locking will commence.
Yet "rationality" seems to be the only offering from Apple, seeing as the software isn't supported by any Apple-original home automation devices. Their alternative? To integrate other products into this new software, Apple plans to establish a certification program for HomeKit, allowing other companies to tap into the features enabled by iOS 8. They've already partnered with dozens of big names in home automation, including Honeywell, Philips, and August.
SEE ALSO: Apple And Google Take On The Smart Home
What Does This Mean For Home Automation?
But a central hub for the smart home isn't a completely novel idea. After all, Z-Wave and ZigBee have been trying and failing to do the same thing for years, only succeeding to emphasize the significant compatibility problem that plagues the entire notion of a "connected home." Apple's HomeKit, however, might mean a turning of the tide in the right direction creating a standard for interconnectivity. Seeing as Google might have the same idea with its recent acquisition of Nest, a smart thermostat system, it's starting to look like a race to see which giant can fill the missing void in an already bustling home automation industry.
Whether or not it can beat Google to the punch, Apple's involvement is also significant on a whole other level. Currently, "the smart home" is still a niche idea that only high-brow consumers are buying into. With Apple's ability to package new technology for the masses, home automation can soon be propelled into the mainstream. This means a greater demand, cheaper resources, and more products integrated under the smart home umbrella.
HomeKit Security Risk
So what are the safety consequences of giving this type of access to the one device that's always in your back pocket? Since Apple is typically more strict on safety quality than other electronics producers, digital security researchers are optimistic that the brand's involvement will create a push for stronger protection. But Apple isn't a complete fortress against hackers stories of countless iPhone hacks happening in Australia and New Zealand have recently surfaced and the vulnerability of touch ID has been discussed since the release of 5s.
And if all of your devices are connected to the internet, then your garage, your doors whatever you integrate into HomeKit are only as secure as your WiFi connection. An incident earlier this year spoke to that threat when countless smart home devices, including a refrigerator, were hacked in a 750,000 phishing and SPAM cyberattack. But there isn't only one way into the kind of security holes the Internet of Things allows. If you lose your phone, you're not just missing two years worth of contacts, you're also giving a potential stranger complete control of your home.
While Apple's reveal of HomeKit might be making waves in the home automation field, it still isn't answering the big safety questions that rise when you give complete control over your home to a shiny rectangle. With rumors surfacing that Apple's patent points to an ability to track you around your house in order to anticipate your needs, these questions need to be asked and, most importantly, answered.