New products reaffirm Apple TV's central role in HomeKit ecosystem

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited June 2015
With the first round of HomeKit-enabled devices beginning to arrive, Apple's plans for its new home automation framework have become clearer, including the important role that the Apple TV will play for HomeKit users.

The new boss: same as the old boss?


One of the best things about home automation is the ability for you to control it --?or for it to control itself -- while you're away. Turning on the air conditioner on your way home or unlocking the door for housekeepers or kids when they've forgotten their key are just a couple examples of the power of remotely-accessible home automation.

Getting this to work well generally requires an expensive proprietary system from a major player like Crestron. If you're willing to endure a little more pain, it can be cobbled together with components from smaller firms, but that means lots of apps and different systems to juggle.

Apple wants to change this with HomeKit, letting you control any HomeKit-enabled accessory from wherever you are. This has its own set of challenges, especially when you consider that many connected home accessories simply aren't designed to respond to requests from the outside world.




Enter the Apple TV. As we detailed last summer, Apple's set-top streamer is the ideal device to act as a bridge between your HomeKit devices and your mobile life:
Imagine bringing home a fourth-generation Apple TV, connecting it to your Wi-Fi network, and immediately being able to ask Siri to turn off your downstairs lights and raise the temperature in the house when you go to bed, no matter which smart home manufacturer made the bulbs and thermostat. All of this with minimal additional configuration -- and minimal investment -- thanks to the behind-the-scenes work done by Apple with HomeKit.
Our prediction turned out to be a good one, as the company surreptitiously added support for HomeKit in Apple TV Software Update 7.0. The functionality was later mentioned in beta release notes, and confirmed on Tuesday when the first HomeKit-enabled accessories hit the market.

In the fine print for Elgato's new Eve line of environmental sensors, the company notes that controlling HomeKit devices "away from home requires an Apple TV (3rd generation or later) with Apple TV software 7.0 or later and an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 8.1 or later."

The system works by automatically registering a compatible Apple TV as a remote access peer once the user signs into iCloud. Home and accessory data is stored using CloudKit, while paired keys are synchronized via Keychain.

With a house full of HomeKit accessories, this opens up some fun, Star Trek-style interactions. Imagine using your Apple Watch to ask Siri to open the front door as you walk up with arms full of groceries, or tapping on your iPhone to turn on more lights in the garage while you're changing your oil.

The HomeKit future is bright, and the Apple TV is right in the middle.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 497member
    Why should there still be AppleTV and Airport/TimeCapsule?. Why not merge these into one product, extend it so that it acts as the central hub in your home? That would be my prediction for next Monday.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    So if Apple TV is the hub for HomeKit enabled devices, would you still need to purchase an Insteon Hub for their devices to work?
  • Reply 3 of 58
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacApfel View Post



    Why should there still be AppleTV and Airport/TimeCapsule?. Why not merge these into one product, extend it so that it acts as the central hub in your home? That would be my prediction for next Monday.

     

    Because people may not keep their router by their TV? Your idea is incredibly short sighted.

  • Reply 4 of 58
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacApfel View Post



    Why should there still be AppleTV and Airport/TimeCapsule?. Why not merge these into one product, extend it so that it acts as the central hub in your home? That would be my prediction for next Monday.



    Because AppleTV is mostly a wireless device and in a completely different location from the AirPort. It could potentially double as a wireless Airport Express, but that implies you're even further away from your router to begin with. Not seeing the logic behind merging these devices other than for merging's sake.

  • Reply 5 of 58
    dtidmoredtidmore Posts: 137member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by battlescarred1 View Post



    So if Apple TV is the hub for HomeKit enabled devices, would you still need to purchase an Insteon Hub for their devices to work?



    Because the Insteon family of switches, sensors, etc lack a native ability to participate in HomeKit (i.e. they lack the hardware).  The new Insteon hub acts as a bridge between the HomeKit world and the Insteon world.  It also appears that Insteon plans to allow their new hub to bridge to other home automation technologies beyond just Insteon.  It is still unclear if HomeKit will require an apple tv for basic functionality (i.e. a home to the "common database") or just if you desire longer distance remote capability (i.e. beyond the reach of WiFi and Bluetooth)

  • Reply 6 of 58
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     



    Because AppleTV is mostly a wireless device and in a completely different location from the AirPort. It could potentially double as a wireless Airport Express, but that implies you're even further away from your router to begin with. Not seeing the logic behind merging these devices other than for merging's sake.


    I could see adding network access point capabilities (given there's CAT5 on it already) or as a repeater. Personally, I'd opt for the access point...

  • Reply 7 of 58
    idreyidrey Posts: 640member
    Sweet! Monday can't get here fast enough, come on new Apple TV ( fingers crossed)
  • Reply 8 of 58
    peteopeteo Posts: 348member
    "This has its own set of challenges, especially when you consider that many connected home accessories simply aren't designed to respond to requests from the outside world"

    Yeah, this is amazing. I mean my nest & nest protect, wink hub, lights, front and back locks were inaccessible anywhere in the world until today, when apple blessed them and said "let these devices be accessible from the internet" and it was done. Apple rested and looked at the incredible technology that had been around for 2-3 years and said I created this and it is good.
  • Reply 9 of 58
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 497member
    Because people may not keep their router by their TV? Your idea is incredibly short sighted.

    All you need is a tiny USB airplay stick, dude.
  • Reply 10 of 58
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 497member
    pmz wrote: »

    Because AppleTV is mostly a wireless device and in a completely different location from the AirPort. It could potentially double as a wireless Airport Express, but that implies you're even further away from your router to begin with. Not seeing the logic behind merging these devices other than for merging's sake.

    For people who want home kit without appleTV.
  • Reply 11 of 58
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    peteo wrote: »
    "This has its own set of challenges, especially when you consider that many connected home accessories simply aren't designed to respond to requests from the outside world"

    Yeah, this is amazing. I mean my nest & nest protect, wink hub, lights, front and back locks were inaccessible anywhere in the world until today, when apple blessed them and said "let these devices be accessible from the internet" and it was done. Apple rested and looked at the incredible technology that had been around for 2-3 years and said I created this and it is good.

    1. AppleInsider.com is not an official Apple site or spokesperson.

    2. If you don't know what the word "many" means there are various dictionaries that will help you out.

    3. Everything until WWDC is speculation.

    4. Again Apple didn't say this.


    So take your trolling elsewhere!!
  • Reply 12 of 58
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,935member
    It looks like the home automation market is going to repeat the same behaviors (mistakes?) of the industrial automation market with multiple competing networking standards, lack of interoperability, and a struggle to determine who controls the overall user experience- the system vendors or the device vendors. Pity the poor customers who have to deal with the complexity. Or maybe Apple becomes the dominant system vendor and all of the device vendors fall in line behind Apple. I'll bet two rainbows and a unicorn that the all-Apple scenario is unlikely to occur. Prepare for interoperability chaos.
  • Reply 13 of 58
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    A few things I've noticed here:

    1. The name Apple TV makes less and less sense. With this hardware being less about TV and more central to the home a new device with a fresh name may be announced. One that makes sense.

    2. Why is this device's Home automation necessary when I'm sure Home will be available in your pocket(iPhone), in you're computers(iPad,Macs) and your wrist(?Watch).

    Home being available on your iPhone makes this feature completely unnecessary.

    3. If Siri integration is really planned, expect this device to get expensive and have massive features added.

    Mics, a speaker, large hard drive, A8/A9 chip, possibly a new remote, etc.

    This would definitely take it out of the hobby stage.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,075member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacApfel View Post



    Why should there still be AppleTV and Airport/TimeCapsule?. Why not merge these into one product, extend it so that it acts as the central hub in your home? That would be my prediction for next Monday.



    because maybe I don't want a craptastic single point of failure for my backup solution?

     

    And the router may not be near a TV

  • Reply 15 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,075member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by battlescarred1 View Post



    So if Apple TV is the hub for HomeKit enabled devices, would you still need to purchase an Insteon Hub for their devices to work?



    Since normal Insteon devices are not HomeKit devices, YES, you would need the Insteon Hub for the Insteon devices to work.  

     

    Just like you need Windows to run Windows software (or VMWare with Windows or maybe a compatibility layer like Wine etc).  OS X did not magically give you Windows compatibility.   You need an Insteon compatible control center to control Insteon devices.

  • Reply 16 of 58
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacApfel View Post



    Why should there still be AppleTV and Airport/TimeCapsule?. Why not merge these into one product, extend it so that it acts as the central hub in your home? That would be my prediction for next Monday.

     

    Because then you have a single, more expensive product and you have to replace both anytime you want to replace one. Most people already have a router (Apple or otherwise) so an integrated product would sell fewer units.

  • Reply 17 of 58
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

     

    Because people may not keep their router by their TV? Your idea is incredibly short sighted.


    bzzt.   Think Different.

     

    a TimeCapsule is much less a router than a storage server attached to your Wireless Access point... When your largest data consumer in your house is your 4K AppleTV, it may behoove you to have a (SSD) disk very near or in your AppleTV.  At that point, Why not make your AppleTV into your content Server(if I'm subscribed to Game of Thrones... it would be nice for it to be delivered and embargoed locally)/ backup server/Wireless Router.   I certainly want to avoid banging Gbits of information over my AC wireless realtime while my kids are watching netflix in their room on an iPad, or listening to itunes in the cloud via their iPhone.  Can't prioritize that stuff fast enough.  If an iPhone can cache podcasts, I'd like my apple TV to do the same, and why have all that disk space in 2 places?

     

    And you can chain routers wirelessly (or wiredly).   That's what I do.  I have an Airport Express at my DeMarc (actually a AsusTek/Tomato router and an AExpress, but I digress).  

     

    I think the key thing is Apple is all about singular solutions... Like an Airport Extreme/Express... An AppleTVExtreme/Express may be the model to follow in the 'Home Automation' world.

  • Reply 18 of 58
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by freediverx View Post

     

     

    Because then you have a single, more expensive product and you have to replace both anytime you want to replace one.


    One Word:   iMac.

     

    Right or Wrong, Apple is all about a single 'high value' product that solves your problem.   Anyone who has a micro Torx screwdriver is not Apple's Target Market.

  • Reply 19 of 58
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    bzzt.   Think Different.

     

    a TimeCapsule is much less a router than a storage server attached to your Wireless Access point... When your largest data consumer in your house is your 4K AppleTV, it may behoove you to have a (SSD) disk very near or in your AppleTV.  At that point, Why not make your AppleTV into your content Server(if I'm subscribed to Game of Thrones... it would be nice for it to be delivered and embargoed locally)/ backup server/Wireless Router.   I certainly want to avoid banging Gbits of information over my AC wireless realtime while my kids are watching netflix in their room on an iPad, or listening to itunes in the cloud via their iPhone.  Can't prioritize that stuff fast enough.  If an iPhone can cache podcasts, I'd like my apple TV to do the same, and why have all that disk space in 2 places?

     

    And you can chain routers wirelessly (or wiredly).   That's what I do.  I have an Airport Express at my DeMarc (actually a AsusTek/Tomato router and an AExpress, but I digress).  

     

    I think the key thing is Apple is all about singular solutions... Like an Airport Extreme/Express... An AppleTVExtreme/Express may be the model to follow in the 'Home Automation' world.


     

    Don't hold your breath for any of this. You are proposing a very niche solution, which is not what Apple does.

     

    Also, start resetting your expectations if you think Apple will release a 4K-capable Apple TV this year. Right now 4K makes no sense for anyone other than content producers.

  • Reply 20 of 58
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 900member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    One Word:   iMac.

     


     

    That might be a compelling argument if iMacs and laptops were all Apple sold.  But there are still Mac Minis and Mac Pros for sale.

     

    Maybe later, when the market has evolved a bit more, the all-in-one router/tv/wap could make sense; my feeling is, it's too early just yet.

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