Long-awaited upgrades to HomeKit, Siri, iOS 10 and the rest of Apple's ecosystem of software platforms debuted at this morning's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
While the keynote address, led by Tim Cook and other Apple execs, lasted two hours and showed off many new features of Apple software, it wasn't truly the "wow" some (including us) had predicted. Apple showed off many, many new "flashy" features instead of a big "game changing" innovation.
Let's just go through items (in the order form the keynote) that have to do with home automation and Apple's own platform for the smarter home, HomeKit:
The core software for the Apple Watch will get a tremendous speed boost and make apps much snappier to open and switch between. This should help with home automation apps that tend to take too long to open or function with the current watchOS 2 platform. Siri and HomeKit already work on the Apple Watch.
Apple's 4th-generation Apple TV, introduced last fall, gains native HomeKit functionality for 3rd-party apps. This will mean that you'll see many new apps on the TV app store that aren't just "companions" to those currently available on iOS devices. And, Siri on the Apple TV, via the Siri remote, can now command HomeKit devices just like on iOS and watchOS. These improvements are definitely what we've been waiting for on the Apple TV!
macOS (formerly OS X)
Siri finally makes her debut on the Mac, but will she be able to control HomeKit devices? It wasn't explicitly demoed during the keynote but stay tuned and we'll let you know if this functionality should be expected. There's no technical reason why Siri couldn't run HomeKit commands on the Mac just like on all the other Apple operating systems.
3rd-party apps can now tap into Siri, but it turns out that this doesn’t really help home automation apps, as the new SiriKit is limited to a handful of app categories - and HomeKit is already tied into Siri and home control apps.
The categories of HomeKit devices now include: air conditioners, cameras, doorbells, air purifiers and humidifiers. With many, many manufacturers (50+) either shipping products currently or have made announcements about future HomeKit-compatible products. Some home builders, such as KB Homes and Lennar are even planning to integrate HomeKit technology right into brand-new homes.
The big news is a native “Home” app that will bring together HomeKit devices and configure them easily. This has been expected for some time now and will ease the burden on 3rd-party HomeKit apps to build full configuration of HomeKit devices into their own apps. HomeKit functionality will also be built directly into the iOS Control Center and the Lock Screen and take advantage of 3D Touch.
Developer preview versions of watchOS, tvOS, macOS and iOS were released to developers today, with public betas becoming available in July and a general release to the public this fall.
We are excited about all of these new features that help tie Apple’s devices into home automation, no matter which device you might be using, from your TV to your phone, and more. Stay tuned to our social media channels and our web site for more updates as WWDC progresses throughout this week.
Keynote images and screenshots from WWDC 2016 keynote are used for reporting purposes under fair use.