It's been a year since Apple unveiled HomeKit, and the first product supporting the platform are finally rolling out. Ecobee, Elgato, iHome, Insteon, and Lutron all have HomeKit-compatible devices ready for your smart home set to hit stores today or later this month.
HomeKit-compatible devices start shipping ahead of WWDC 2015
Apple first showed off the HomeKit home automation platform at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference a year ago. HomeKit promises to work as a unifying platform for controlling smart home devices such as switches and outlets, lights, fans, garage doors, and locks. Users can trigger actions across multiple devices at the same time regardless of manufacturer, and they can even use Siri to issue voice commands.
With HomeKit you can say, for example, "Siri, it's time for bed," and your lights automatically dim, the front door locks, and the thermostat lowers the temperature in your home. Instead of using clever workarounds, like If This Then That recipes to automate actions across devices from multiple manufacturers, HomeKit lets everything seamlessly work together—assuming your gear is HomeKit-compatible.
HomeKit compatibility requires an iPhone-compatibility certification from Apple, also called MFI. Since the devices we're seeing announced right now are all new, it looks like firmware updates for the gear we already own may be out of the question. In other words, if you already invested in smart lights, switches, and other gear, you'll probably have to replace them if you want to get in on the HomeKit action.
There isn't a Home app for the iPhone, which is different from Apple's other unification platform HealthKit, which includes the Health app. Instead, HomeKit-compatible devices can be controlled from the apps you use to manage device settings. If you have a HomeKit-compatible thermostat, for example, its app lets you set actions for other HomeKit-compatible devices, too.
Here's what's been announced so far:
- Ecobee The Ecobee3 WiFi thermostat, available in late June
- Elgato The Eve Room, Weather, Door & Window, and Energy sensors available for pre-order June 2 and in stores in July
- iHome The iSP5 SmartPlug, available for pre-order June 15 and in stores in July
- Insteon The Insteon Hub, available June 2
- Lutron The Caseta Lighting Starter Kit, available in stores June 2
If you already have some smart home gear you want to control with Siri voice commands, the Insteon Hub or iHome's SmartPlug could be just what you're looking for. Both let you take gear you already own and control it via HomeKit.
When Apple showed off HomeKit at WWDC last year, other companies such as Honeywell, Philips, and Schlage were mentioned as partners, but those companies haven't announced shipping dates for any HomeKit-compatible products yet. With WWDC 2015 only a few days away it's possible we could see some more announcements then.