Key Smarthome Vendors Hint at Upcoming Official Apple HomeKit Launch [Update]

[Update: This article was updated with new comments from Philips, below. - Kelly]

Some key vendors in the smarthome space have suggested that Apple is planning an official HomeKit launch, and sooner rather than later. While Apple announced HomeKit as part of iOS 8 back at WWDC, the company hasn't said much about it since the initial announcement. That might be about to change.

Apple could be about to make some any noise about HomeKit. 

As I was assembling the list of HomeKit devices, I realized there were a few notable companies who hadn't officially said anything one way or another, and some who had said they were "looking into it" when HomeKit was announced, but have yet to elaborate. Note that Apple itself hasn't issued a single press release about HomeKit. While I did get a few answers, they led to more questions.

When asked, WeMo pledged support "in the very near future." Next on the list was Philips Hue lighting, which gave the following response:

In terms of HomeKit, Philips is actively working on preparing its system for Apple's HomeKit launch. The integration will allow iOS users to control their hue devices with simple commands such as "Siri, turn on the lights in the living room," giving a new quick and intuitive means of interaction, as well as taking advantage of the surely vibrant range of 3rd party home kit compatible apps.

Let's revisit that first sentence: Philips is actively working on preparing its system for Apple's HomeKit launch. Now, before this sentence landed in my inbox I was pretty sure we'd already seen the "launch" of HomeKit, whether you count that as the announcement at WWDC 2014 of HomeKit as part of iOS 8, or the launch of iOS 8 itself, as noted above. So getting a mention from top smarthome vendors about a launch got some wheels turning.

Update: Philips PR contacted me Friday night claiming the statement above was the result of a misunderstanding. According to the spokesperson, the quote above was originally issued in September—there are no instances of it appearing on the Internet, but we were shown a copy of a physical letter dated in September. That letter had a modified version of the quote given to us Wednesday, January 14th. According to Philips, the “HomeKit launch” referenced in the quote was the launch of iOS 8 in September, though the company has yet to comment on HomeKit support since that time. - Kelly

First of all, an impending Apple launch HomeKit would explain why the WeMo statement said "in the very near future." Belkin's WeMo line is a well-known automation ecosystem. If there's a launch, it makes sense for Apple to include WeMo hardware.

Adding the the phrase "HomeKit launch" from Philips just makes me wonder even more. Philips was one of the first out of the gate with a Notification Center widget, and has been very open about eventually supporting HomeKit, there just hasn't been anything to show for it yet.

Philips Hue bulbs, soon to let Siri be the boss of them.

What if there is going to be an event? And what if that event is an official HomeKit launch? And what if that launch includes a new Apple TV that has "hub" functionality? A launch event would be a great way to re-introduce Apple TV, especially since we're coming up on three years since the last update. Not only would this event draw attention back to the Apple TV, but it would also plant Apple's flag pretty firmly in the home automation market.

I contacted Apple for comment; there was no response as of this writing.

I have already outlined the reasons why Apple TV would be an ideal hub. For Apple to have a HomeKit specific event where it launched the latest generation of Apple TV would prove it wasn't a hobby. And it would prove that Apple was smart to remove "Computer" from its name in 2007.