Headed for Home(Kit) - One Month to WWDC 2016!

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It's May 12, which means that we're almost exactly one month to the next Apple keynote - the WWDC event on June 13.

And finally - FINALLY - we may see some movement on HomeKit.

But is it too little, too late?

HomeKit was announced at WWDC, two years ago.

That's right... June 2014.

Two years ago, Craig Federighi took over the WWDC keynote stage, Steve Jobs style.

With apologies to Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and even Jony Ive, Craig Federighi seems to be the guy who has picked up the baton from Steve Jobs on the "charismatic keynote guy" front.

Craig had taken a more prominent role in Apple's keynotes leading up to WWDC 2014 - but this time, he was onstage for fully 70% of the presentation.

And most importantly to THIS blog, he finally got to work explaining Apple's plans for the home automation space.

Just look at all of those partners they'd lined up!

Spoiler alert - We're still waiting on some of these HomeKit partners.

This was obviously going to be a big deal.

Apple wouldn't just announce something like HomeKit and then take literally no visible steps, or even mention it again, for two years. Right?

Well.....

It's almost WWDC 2016.

And while there are (finally) a handful of devices available in stores with the "Works With HomeKit" badge, it's a really limited number.

And more importantly, Apple has been TOTALLY silent on the consumer-facing side of HomeKit.

There's no central "Home" iOS app. The powerful new AppleTV doesn't do anything with HomeKit.

There's nothing Apple-specific about HomeKit at all, really.

Sure, Apple may have created the set of standards that will allow HomeKit devices to work together, but so have any number of competing ecosystems.

Sure, I want my home-automation devices to be Siri-controllable - and that appears to be HomeKit's primary differentiator.

But voice control is secondary. We need iOS control!

And right now, if you want to control a HomeKit device with your iPhone, you have to use the specific app for the device in question.

That's not the fully-automated home we'd hoped for.

That's just a bunch of wi-fi remote-controllable devices, and a whole bunch of single-function apps.

Every device as an island unto itself, no better or worse than any other home automation protocol.

WWDC 2016 may finally change all that.

One App To Control Them All?

There were a bunch of rumors last week that iOS 10 will finally bring us the first-party Apple "Home" app we'd hoped for.

A centralized Home app would allow users to add the third-party HomeKit devices in their homes - and control all of them from a single interface.

This would allow us to easily set "scenes" - i.e., if the MyQ garage door* opens, and it's after sunset in my zipcode, the Lutron Caseta lights turn on in the mudroom adjacent to the garage.

(*HomeKit support for MyQ is allegedly coming later in 2016)

It would also allow us to make manual adjustments to a number of HomeKit devices from within the same app interface.

This will reduce confusion and delay.

More importantly, a unified interface will convey to the user that all of their HomeKit devices are working within their Apple ecosystem.

That sort of turnkey "it just works" feeling will attract users, which will attract device makers.

This is my primary hope for WWDC 2016 - a unified "Home" app, to directly control HomeKit devices.

If iOS 10 truly brings this giant leap forward for HomeKit, we're jumping in with both feet.

If not, I'm going to continue on our current path, with Google's "Works With Nest" program.

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