Apple may finally address HomeKit's lack of a unified interface with the release of iOS 10 later this year. That's great, although it's an app that should've been included when HomeKit first launched.
Apple may finally give HomeKit its own app
Word of the new app came from an Apple marketing employee commenting in Amazon product reviews. MacRumors verified the commenter's identity, and that they were responsible for the comments.
"As I work in marketing for Apple, we test many Smart Home devices, especially for iOS HomeKit integration," the person said. "The next version of iOS due this fall will have a standalone 'HomeKit' app as well."
HomeKit is Apple's smart home connected device platform that promises a unified system for controlling programmable lights, smart thermostats, room sensors, smart locks, and more. Apple tasked device makers with creating the controller interfaces, however, which left users jumping from app to app to manage settings, and doesn't make for a very unified experience. Elgato's Eve app (free) is a notable exception because it recognizes HomeKit-compatible devices from other manufacturers, and works regardless of whether or not users have any Eve devices.
Third party developers stepped in with apps such as Home (US$14.99), Hesperus (free), and Yonomi (free), which is a big help, but users need to first find them on the App Store. In essence, Apple created what should be a powerful platform for iPhone and iPad users, then hobbled the experience by failing to provide the controller app its customers need.
Considering how many developers have released HomeKit controller apps, it's interesting that Apple didn't include their own with iOS 9. Maybe Apple felt that was a task best left for device makers, maybe Apple wanted to see how people used smart home devices before releasing an app, or maybe Apple couldn't pull an app together in time so it got pushed back a year.
Regardless of why, it looks like Apple is finally addressing the HomeKit hole in its own app line up. It also seems that Apple's own marketing team thinks it's OK to spill the beans on unannounced apps in public forums—which could be a slip up, or a controlled leak to let frustrated HomeKit users know some of their complaints are being addressed.
Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference starts on June 13 and we'll most likely see previews of iOS 10 and OS X 10.12. If HomeKit is getting a controller app, there's a good chance we'll get our first look at it then.