Home has always been where the heart is, but now more than ever before, it’s where the brain resides too. The popularity of “smart” technology continues to pick up – with each passing year, more of our analog appliances are able to communicate, share data and analyze information gathered from our daily routines. Today it’s possible to lock doors and windows, adjust thermostat settings and even check on the contents of the fridge from the smartphone in the palm of your hand.
This type of intelligent technology has already begun to revolutionize the way we manage and interact with our homes. Operating in and around the Internet of Things, connected home products have opened the door to a myriad of never-before-seen conveniences. Mobile phones operate as remote controls or command centers, bridging the gap between our everyday demands and the services provided by smart toasters, light bulbs and security systems.
Apple, the world’s largest seller of smartphone devices, made its official debut into the dynamic smart home market last year. With the release of the Home app, and critical improvements to the existing HomeKit platform, Apple reminded consumers that it still knows how to really work a room.
Connection and Control with HomeKit
Apple’s HomeKit platform seeks to provide a single overarching ecosystem within which all sorts of smart devices can coexist in harmony. Provided a device was made HomeKit-compatible by its manufacturer, it’s ready to integrate with the existing HomeKit hub setup. After this, users can simply begin interacting with the Home app or by talking to Apple’s digital voice assistant, Siri, to enact precise control over every room in the house. There’s no need for hubs to wrangle half a dozen different communication standards, no juggling multiple apps and no hoping that the newest smart device will play nicely with everything else.
Using home automation, it’s crucial to know which products are compatible with one another. In the world of smart home systems, gadgets can only communicate if they speak using the same language or “standard.” Users typically require a separate app for each system, and separate hardware too. And in this still early market, tech firms still tend to see the most profitable business model as one that acts as a walled garden. However, manufacturers are becoming aware that more compatibility is important – soon we hope to see devices that support Apple’s HomeKit, and Google’s Weave, as well as the other systems still on the horizon.
A Secure Investment
Though home automation systems are seldom considered among the best investments for homeowners, their installation can boost both the ease-of-use and the comfort of your home – benefiting you and your family in both the short and long term. Automated and remote control over lighting and HVAC systems can improve energy efficiency, lower overall consumption and help save money on utility bills. Smart security systems enable the remote monitoring of your property, giving additional control and protection over your home even when you are away. Looking toward the future of home selling, having a smart home system already installed and integrated is a major advantage.
HomeKit and the Competition
While there is a lot to like about the HomeKit and Home app from Apple, this tech giant isn’t the only player in this long game. Amazon’s Echo has been wildly successful since its introduction thanks to its ability to control a wide selection of smart products via a demure speaker hub. The hub is powered by Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent digital assistant and cohort of Apple’s Siri. With far-field microphones and a sophisticated artificial intelligence, the Echo system has captivated many consumers attention.
The Samsung SmartThings platform, while missing the charm of an Alexa or Siri-like voice assistant, is perhaps the most reliable and widely supported home automation system currently available. It works with a whole host of communication standards, making it an excellent choice if anyone who intends to piece together their smart home systems from an assortment of vendors and devices.
Home Automation is the Future
The connected home sector is still open to transformation. Today the technology firms above and many other product manufacturers continue to jostle for a bigger slice of the pie. For consumers who feel that their homes are no less “smart” for all the Internet-enabled devices they buy, the move towards these types of systems has been more gradual. To ensure home automation takes off, improved data security and more streamlined communication standards are imperative.
In Apple’s case, because smart products need to be specifically made HomeKit-compatible, the list of supported devices is currently smaller than for other smart home systems. The HomeKit also requires that an Apple TV or other supported device be left at home in order to communicate with the system while users are away, which may be a deterrent for some. Nonetheless, the HomeKit system is already becoming more established, and the list of compatible devices continues to grow rapidly. With deep integration into the recently released iOS 10 and a continued focus on security and protection of privacy, the HomeKit offer compelling advantages over similar cloud-based competitors.
While it’s still a growing field, home automation devices and the ever-widening Internet of Things hold tremendous potential. A smart home can be a safer, more convenient and more efficient home, and automation strikes an excellent balance between short-term gratification and long-term investment value for homeowners. There’s no telling what the future of smart technology holds, but by providing all these advantages without sacrificing security and privacy, the Apple HomeKit is poised to remain a powerful player for years to come.