Apple HomeKit Finally Dropping Chip Requirement

Published: Tue, 13 June 2017

Apple finally surfaced in the Home Assistant space with their introduction of the HomePod.  Given Apple's strong presence in music, it looks like this long expected product will be focused, first and foremost, on music streaming and will compete strongly with Sonos, Bose, etc.  This is reinforced by the $349 price tag, which suggests the HomePod is a more impressive piece of hardware then the Alexa or Google Home, and is really trying to be something more than just a Home Assistant.

But as part of this announcement there was also some interesting news regarding HomeKit, Apple's smarthome platform.  The biggest complaint smarthome vendors had with HomeKit, and one we certainly agreed with, was that Apple required the addition of a special chip to any product that wanted to work with HomeKit.  With is move Apple's intent was to ensure any vendor joining its ecosystem met their lofty security standards.  But the time and cost involved with adding a new component to an existing product proved a considerable barrier to any vendor's participation in the program, much less an emerging company like ours.  Apple has finally addressed this long-standing pain point by announcing that it will now support a software version of that security platform.  We suspect that the authentication process for this security addition will be quite robust and still won't be a cake walk for vendors, but progress nonetheless.

In other news, HomeKit will introduce NFC and QPR to facilitate pairing.  In addition, developers had to join Apple's MFI third party hardware program. Now, Apple is opening the doors to HomeKit to anyone who is an Apple developer. Lots of good stuff here ,as Apple is clearly taking meaningful steps towards making HomeKit a more inviting smarthome ecosystem.


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