HomeKit — Apple’s failure. How to fix it?
It has been over two years since Apple introduced HomeKit, a software environment for the smart home, which was to change our everyday life. However, this for some reason has still not happened. Co-founder of solution provider for home automation Networks Beep Daniel Conrad published the copyrighted material on the website TechCrunch, in which he tried to understand what were the reasons for this outcome, and that Apple need to do to fix the situation. We publish a translation of the article in Russian language.
The real magic of the Internet of things occurs when the devices work together. It becomes magic when Siri on your iPhone will be able to set your thermostat so that it is checked, lock your back door; when the lock on your door will tell the stereo that you are at home, so you don’t have to press the button to turn on the music.
Today it is not a reality in our lives, because most devices do not communicate with each other. In the absence of a common language such magic is not possible.
Apple (with HomeKit) and Google (through Connect with Nest) presented a program that could provide this type of communication. As owners of the two dominant platforms for mobile phones, both companies have a suitable position in order to set standards for interoperability between home devices.
At this stage, the implementation of Connect with Nest ahead of HomeKit light years. Take a look at the numbers: on the website earlier today, Apple presented HomeKit-compatible devices from 7 manufacturers, the page Works with Nest of these manufacturers 95.
Nest can connect to washing machines, devices for feeding Pets and systems for monitoring babies. HomeKit works with lamps Philips, and that, perhaps, everything.
Apple produces devices for a long time. These products present a much greater number of houses than the Nest, and retail stores should provide them a far more impressive advantage in attracting partners. In addition, the connection to the iPhone should be much easier. So why is Nest managed to lure a lot more manufacturing partners?
Slow device, fast software
A fundamental difference in the approach lies in the interaction of hardware and software. Apple requires device integration, the integration of the whole Nest is in the cloud.
Our team has created one of the first devices that connect to Nest. On the integration, certification and testing our engineer took only a few days. Almost everything is done in the cloud and not the local Wi-Fi network user.
We did not need much effort, plus the team Nest gave us good support, and their documentation publicly available and well laid out. Apple does everything differently.
To simply look at the documentation for the integration of HomeKit devices, you need to access the developer program MFi (Made for iPhone). This is no joke, you will have several weeks to wait for the approval only to find the device HomeKit.
Apple requires that your device has been embedded chip of authorization that you can only buy from her. Existing products cannot be connected to HomeKit without making changes to their wiring diagrams.
In addition, you needs to produce its product in cooperation with one of the approved manufacturers. If your current partner is not on this list, you will have to move its Assembly line at the new factory. The device would be forced to test and certify in one of the laboratories approved by Apple. As I understand it, very few of them, like my friend from San Francisco had to send their devices for testing in the UK.
I have even heard that Apple is exploring your packaging to make sure that your chosen color does not match her signature schemes. I personally do not believe that this is true, but anything is possible.
Integration should be in the cloud
What’s important is that Apple often requires integration between devices was held in a local Wi-Fi network. Instead of having to access the servers, your device communicates with your iPhone via local Wi-Fi network, while the iPhone communicates with other devices. This means that the logic of the HomeKit needs to be spelled out in the firmware of the device and any future changes or expansion of the system means firmware update. This is not what you expect in the Internet age.
The device must be connected to the cloud, where servers can communicate with each other. We can fix mistakes without the risk of the boot process firmware updates “over the air”.
I will not dissemble, there are areas in which the compounds without the use of the cloud may exist. Once we have produced a device to sync music and communication system with rapid response, which required local connections. Nest also offers a platform Weave for local communication between devices. Bluetooth device cannot connect to the access point Wi-Fi, so they need to contact the phone directly. But there is no reason why we need to demand integration at the device level, if it is possible to do it in the cloud.
This is nonsense
I find it very strange that Apple did so wrong. It’s like in the days of the e-mail they ask us to use a Fax machine.
At first I thought they wanted to limit the number of devices to improve the quality. If they make the process quite expensive, maybe after this elimination will take place only the best device.
The reviews on Amazon about the smoke detector from First Alert with HomeKit support suggest otherwise. Today, the best devices are not only the richest companies.
Perhaps, in a fundamental sense, Apple still sees itself as a hardware manufacturer. For this reason, when they think about integration, we instinctively begin with the list of hardware requirements.
Whatever the purpose of the company, the result is that the idea of HomeKit will result in a failure if Apple does not change its approach. I hope that this will happen, and Nest will be a worthy opponent.