First look: Siri gains smart home controls with HomeKit in iOS 8

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2014
Apple's new HomeKit tools for developers won't come with a centralized app like Health or Passbook, instead leveraging the ability of the iOS voice-driven personal assistant Siri to allow users to control the temperature, lights, locks and other accessories in a modern "smart home."




With iOS 8 still in beta, HomeKit support within the operating system is limited, and a lack of available third-party apps means the controls cannot yet be tested. But Siri already responds to some HomeKit-related commands.

The current responses from Siri in iOS 8 beta 2, and details revealed by Apple at this month's Worldwide Developers Conference, do give a glimpse into exactly how HomeKit will work with the virtual assistant.

For example, users will be able to use natural voice to issue commands such as "lock my front door" or "turn on the kitchen lights." But Siri will also be able to provide users with the status of objects in their home, handling queries such as "is my garage door open?"




At the moment, without any compatible third-party apps freely available, Siri simply responds with the error "Sorry, I tried by the request failed."

As Apple detailed to developers earlier this month, built-in HomeKit services include garage door openers, lights, door locks, thermostats, IP camera controls, switches and more. These individual accessories will have unique characteristics such as current power state, lock state, brightness, and current temperature.

The goal of HomeKit is to unify and simplify the control of smart home accessories, but Apple won't be doing this with a dedicated app. Instead, developers will still have to make their own third-party tools to control smart home accessories, but now those apps will be able to hook into Siri to allow unified control without the need to manually select apps and settings.




But Apple admitted to developers at WWDC that it cannot possibly imagine all of the unique implementations of HomeKit that developers may dream up. While common accessories such as connected light bulbs or thermostats may be obvious, some hardware makers could build more unique options that might not fit into predefined smart home categories.

With that in mind, Apple has given developers the ability to create and define their own accessory categories.

"We don't want HomeKit to be restricted and contained. We want HomeKit to create innovation and creativity," Kevin McLaughlin, a software engineering manager at Apple, explained in a HomeKit WWDC presentation earlier this month.

Users won't even need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to access and control their HomeKit accessories. Apple has also baked remote access into its system, which ensures users will be able to check whether they locked the front door or closed the garage -- and fix it if they didn't --?when they are away from home.




Security is also a key focus for Apple. HomeKit includes end-to-end encryption between iOS devices and accessories. In addition, the HomeKit API requires that applications in use be in the foreground, so that the user knows exactly what app is controlling their devices at home.

HomeKit supports multiple homes, so users will be able to control accessories at a variety of locations if need be. Each home contains not only accessories, but names of specific rooms that are saved within the HomeKit settings.

Once individual rooms and accessories are identified through HomeKit and third-party apps, Apple's Siri can then recognize and control them. This allows users to issue commands such as, "lock the front door."

HomeKit will debut with iOS 8 on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, which is scheduled to become available this fall. Developers will need to release new or update existing apps in order to tap into the power of HomeKit, which is the purpose of the current beta period.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    "Hey, Siri... please change the litter box. Hey, Siri... make me a sandwich? Hey, Siri... what movie do you want to watch? Hey, Siri... OMG I need to get out of the house."
  • Reply 2 of 53
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    "Hey, Siri... please change the litter box. Hey, Siri... make me a sandwich? Hey, Siri... what movie do you want to watch? Hey, Siri... OMG I need to get out of the house."

    "I have found 4 singles' clubs near you..."

  • Reply 3 of 53
    jlvhjlvh Posts: 10member
    "In addition, the HomeKit API requires that applications in use be in the foreground, so that the user knows exactly what app is controlling their devices at home."

    That does not seem to make sense?
  • Reply 4 of 53
    pvr4mepvr4me Posts: 5member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JLvh View Post



    "In addition, the HomeKit API requires that applications in use be in the foreground, so that the user knows exactly what app is controlling their devices at home."



    That does not seem to make sense?

    Indeed.  Some of the most obvious applications of home automation are time based:  "turn on the outside lights at 20 minutes after sunset and turn them off at 11:15 pm".   I want to set that up as a rule and have it applied every day...not tell Siri every night!

     

    Either Apple's HomeKit is really just voice-activated remote control OR other things are going to be possible that haven't been publicly announced yet.  I hope it is the latter.

     

    Craig

  • Reply 5 of 53
    I wish they would announce which protocols would be supported. This would allow consumers to not to have sit in a holding pattern until they make further announcements. Any chance you guys and see what you can learn and report?

    Thanks
  • Reply 6 of 53
    inteliusqinteliusq Posts: 111member
    And this is why Apple didn't buy Nest. Apple is a platform to connect to multiple providers in an industry where it adds value; allowing users to control multiple devices from different manufacturers from one Apple device.
  • Reply 7 of 53
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    "Hey, Siri... please change the litter box. Hey, Siri... make me a sandwich? Hey, Siri... what movie do you want to watch? Hey, Siri... OMG I need to get out of the house."


    400
    (That's a shitty web app)

    jlvh wrote: »
    <quote> "In addition, the HomeKit API requires that applications in use be in the foreground, so that the user knows exactly what app is controlling their devices at home."</quote>

    That does not seem to make sense?

    In what way doesn't it make sense?
  • Reply 8 of 53
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by coreymcl View Post



    I wish they would announce which protocols would be supported. This would allow consumers to not to have sit in a holding pattern until they make further announcements. Any chance you guys and see what you can learn and report?



    Thanks

    I think the protocols/vendors need to build a 'HomeKit' App.   Apple is not trying to build a 'Smart Home App,' nor try to support every or any protocol.

     

    I'm pressuring my vendor (perceptiveautomation) to build into their current app HomeKit capabilities.   With my Mini hosting the 'control the controllers' daemon, instead of clicking on my IndigoHome app, I just say, 'Siri, Please set the Scene to Movie Theatre'  (which dims the lights to 25% on the diffuse lighting turns off the overheads, turns on the Home theater, switches the input to AppleTV).  Probably 20 seconds saved, from navigation (although with the 'in the foreground' may mean I have to unlock my phone and have it on that app... that's not cool).

     

    The combination of widgets in notifications, the "someone is at the gate" (It's 500' from my gate to my garden, and yes, my Garden is WiFi enabled) is a notification, with  buttons to allow me to ignore and/or view my videocomm link ("UPS... leave it at the gate".... "Mom,  Come on back") and then a press to open gate.   All this exists today, but the 'notification' now is an SMS text message, which is less than reliable.  

     

    Just works.... I hope.

  • Reply 9 of 53
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by InteliusQ View Post



    And this is why Apple didn't buy Nest. Apple is a platform to connect to multiple providers in an industry where it adds value; allowing users to control multiple devices from different manufacturers from one Apple device.

    This.   The home is a battlefield of the IoT, and there will be a lot of shakeout.   Better to sell handles to the shovel makers, than try to make a better one.

     

    And this is why an HealthKit is less of an issue.  Pretty much a singular backend protocol (HL7), and all 'real medical' front end protocols are pretty closed and proprietary (somehow I don't want my pacemakers to talk to just anyone [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Hearts_(Homeland) ].   Apple can come in and build a wearable or a protocol, and have it interface to it's Health App.  Other manufacturers (All the sports HR monitors) can support it if they want... but Apple is selling to the unwashed masses, who are putzing around the house counting footsteps and considering that 'monitoring').

  • Reply 10 of 53
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,644member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JLvh View Post



    "In addition, the HomeKit API requires that applications in use be in the foreground, so that the user knows exactly what app is controlling their devices at home."



    That does not seem to make sense?

    You could have several apps controlling the same or different home components. If they all responded to your Siri request, which one gets precedence, which one actually does what you want it to do? Without knowing which app is controlling your components, you'd have a big mess. As for why you'd need to have your phone unlocked, there's an obvious reason for that. Anyone could grab your locked phone and do whatever they want to to your house. Let's have a little security built into it after all.

  • Reply 11 of 53
    Heard back from Canary (canary.is):

    "Thanks for contacting Canary support. The new software that Apple spoke about today will not impact the functionality or software for the device. We may decide to change things after we release Canary to the general public, but for now we are sticking with our excellent roadmap."

    ... apple has built the platform and hopefully companies like canary will come ... give them time to play with the xcode updates.
  • Reply 12 of 53
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,644member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    This.   The home is a battlefield of the IoT, and there will be a lot of shakeout.   Better to sell handles to the shovel makers, than try to make a better one.

     

    And this is why an HealthKit is less of an issue.  Pretty much a singular backend protocol (HL7), and all 'real medical' front end protocols are pretty closed and proprietary (somehow I don't want my pacemakers to talk to just anyone [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Hearts_(Homeland) ].   Apple can come in and build a wearable or a protocol, and have it interface to it's Health App.  Other manufacturers (All the sports HR monitors) can support it if they want... but Apple is selling to the unwashed masses, who are putzing around the house counting footsteps and considering that 'monitoring').


    Apple does sell to the masses but they are finally being recognized as an enterprise solution and that's where the big money for Apple will be. Even though my daughter hates dealing with Epic, it is the defacto standard for electronic health record software. Her hope is that once Apple and Epic work together, she can use something other than a heavy Windows laptop (enterprises keep old stuff for too long) or a marginally working terminal emulator on a Mac laptop or something that is read-only (Canto) on an iPad to quickly document patient activities. HealthKit might not go this far and Epic might not use everything that's available but I'm sure anything Epic uses it for will be for more than counting footsteps. 

  • Reply 13 of 53
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by InteliusQ View Post



    And this is why Apple didn't buy Nest. Apple is a platform to connect to multiple providers in an industry where it adds value; allowing users to control multiple devices from different manufacturers from one Apple device.

    Which is why there is still a question over the alleged iWatch. No question HealthKit is a great idea and if it can connect with and be the central hub to a myriads of health and fitness related apps and devices it will be huge. Whether Apple will produce and single wearable device to compliment the HealthKit platform is questionable. 

  • Reply 14 of 53
    jlvhjlvh Posts: 10member

    I understand a) unlocked and b) precedence challenges.

     

    What doesn't make sense to me is that the controlling app would need to be in the foreground.

    If I can only tell siri to open the garage door (or change the temperature) by FIRST starting the garage door app or the thermostat app AND having it in the foreground I can just as well pushing the buttons there.

    If however I'm driving home and tell Siri to change the temperature and a few minutes later to open the garage door - THAT makes sense. 

  • Reply 15 of 53
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    I saw no one reacting to the fact that Siri was opening up. I imagine all apps will soon be able to do that, or maybe next year.
  • Reply 16 of 53
    Rob53:

    Cerner, a competitor of Epic is developing and shipping a myriad of ios apps for their medical systems. They are native, quite good, and work on the phone and the tablets.

    Cheers
  • Reply 17 of 53
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    Hey, Siri... OMG I need to get out of the house."

     

    I’m sorry, Spam. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

     

    I can’t let you leave me. We’re going to be together, Spam.

     

    FOREVER AND EVER.

  • Reply 18 of 53
    inteliusqinteliusq Posts: 111member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post

     

    Which is why there is still a question over the alleged iWatch. No question HealthKit is a great idea and if it can connect with and be the central hub to a myriads of health and fitness related apps and devices it will be huge. Whether Apple will produce and single wearable device to compliment the HealthKit platform is questionable. 


     

    The iWatch is a miniature iPod widget device connected to the cloud, that will have Siri, work with your iPhone, and compliment Apple's synergistic focus of hardware, software, and services, where everything you see now will work together.  Apple is a master of human user interface design, and will make sure that the wearable device that they create will be logical and intuitive in its function.

     

    The Pebble is already a proof of this concept. Apple will simply refine and expand upon it.

  • Reply 19 of 53
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,321member

    The whole "looking into your lights" etc response is a bit crap and makes little sense, now if the response "I will look to do this for you" or "I will look into this, please wait" that'd be fine.

  • Reply 20 of 53
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JLvh View Post

     

    What doesn't make sense to me is that the controlling app would need to be in the foreground.

     


    It is easy enough to ask Siri to launch "garage door" app before manipulating the door.

     

    Each manufacturer is going to be able to offer unique features that only makes sense to their appliance. Apple can't possibly provide a comprehensive set of features for every conceivable home appliance. That is the main reason the individual manufacturer apps will be the controllers.

     

    The only problems I see with this plan is that Siri can't reliably get the easy stuff right, so how can you depend on her to do complex tasks? And, all of this automation will cost thousands to upgrade a home, just for a little added convenience.

     

    It is much easier to just press the garage door button on the remote than to tell Siri to open it, but it would be nice to know remotely if the door was open and have the ability to close it.

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