With the Internet of Things making home automation a reality for many gadget gurus, there’s little surprise that Apple is getting in the game with their own HA platform. HomeKit promises to easily turn your house into a 21st Century smart home with Siri giving you a hand controlling your abode’s lighting, thermostats and more. But questions remain.
If you are interested in home automation at your house or apartment, does Apple HomeKit make sense? And does it try to hog all your valuable Internet bandwidth? Let’s take a closer look at the answers to these and other questions.
Apple HomeKit Up and Close
HomeKit was first announced as part of iOS 8 way back in 2014 at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple introduced a HomeKit certification program for hardware manufacturers last November, and now we are seeing the first lights and other devices from companies like Lutron, Philips, and Honeywell become available. Expect more to join the fray if HomeKit becomes a success.
Not surprisingly, HomeKit requires an iOS device to operate. If you want to control your system from outside your WiFi network, you also need an Apple TV unit, but that requirement goes away with new Cloud-based functionality included in iOS 9. You are also able to control your HomeKit system with an Apple Watch. It is reasonable to expect that Android users will be out of luck concerning HomeKit, unlike Apple Music which will eventually support Google’s mobile operating system.
HomeKit also offers the concept of “scenes,” which lets you perform multiple actions with one command. If you want to turn off your home’s lights, lock your doors, and lower your thermostat when going to bed, a scene lets you easily do it all at once. But how well does HomeKit actually function?
Early Reviews Reveal HomeKit Needs More Work
An early HomeKit review in the Wall Street Journal expressed frustration with Siri’s apparent inability to properly understand HomeKit commands. The reviewer also felt that Apple’s lack of an app to control a HomeKit system hampered the platform’s overall utility. Users have to rely on apps from the third-party manufacturers to make HomeKit run.
It is surprising Apple doesn’t yet provide its own HomeKit app to manage an entire system. This essentially requires outside device makers to provide control over their competitors’ products. Looking forward, however, it appears Apple will fix most of these issues once iOS 9 becomes available later this summer.
HomeKit Impact on Bandwidth
Fortunately, bandwidth considerations for HomeKit or any other home automation system are minimal. Video cameras would use the most bandwidth, so perform an Internet speed test to verify your HA system seamlessly handles video without any hiccups.
Apple’s entry into the home automation industry does offer some hope the technology will enter the mainstream, but Cupertino still has a bit of work to do to make HomeKit a compelling choice for the 21st Century homeowner.