Apple opens up HomeKit development with software authentication & looser licensing

Posted:
in iPhone
In a Wednesday session during the company's ongoing Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Apple announced a pair of changes to HomeKit meant to encourage faster adoption of the smarthome platform.




Developers can now experiment with HomeKit prototypes without obtaining an MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) license first, according to Forbes. Devices can even mix in homebrew platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi -- once a product is ready for commercial sale, however, it must still pass through the certification process.

An updated HomeKit specification will meanwhile allow authentication through software, instead of a dedicated chip. This should enable HomeKit on some older accessories through a simple firmware update, though in practice the processor demands of Apple's encryption may limit upgrades.

HomeKit has become a reasonably popular smarthome standard, backed by companies like Philips, IKEA, GE, and Honeywell. Support has however lagged behind Amazon's Echo speakers, which have looser encryption and certification standards for developers.

On Monday Apple revealed a direct competitor to the Echo line, the HomePod, which responds to Siri commands and can act as a HomeKit hub. A key difference is the focus on high-end audio, thanks to seven tweeters, a subwoofer, and beamforming for vocals. It should ship in December for $349.
HBW1
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,068member
    Hopefully this will mean more commerical automation systems like Philip's Dynalite will get HomeKit bridges.

  • Reply 2 of 27
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 230member
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    mike1Muntz
  • Reply 3 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,603member
    sergioz said:
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    Yes, it means 'less secure'.  
    SendMcjakMuntzmagman1979HBW1
  • Reply 4 of 27
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    HomeKit ecosystem of available products lacking in this part of the world compared to the US. I also dislike how Phillips have (as far as the average consumer is concerned) currently a near monopoly on the HomeKit lightning market with so-called “starter kits” consisting of three bulbs and an unwanted customer lock-in hub for €200. WTF!? I can get three regular LED bulbs for €15. So sick of these companies ripping us off. I got to believe this is largely due to Apple making the HomeKit development process so completely onerous. Hopefully, for the consumer’s sake some of these new policies help to democratize the HomeKit lighting market.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 5 of 27
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    Rayz2016 said:
    sergioz said:
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    Yes, it means 'less secure'.  
    Or insecure.
    SendMcjaksergiozHBW1
  • Reply 6 of 27
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 659member
    sergioz said:
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    I didn't see that term in the article.  What I saw was looser licensing.  
    Muntz
  • Reply 7 of 27
    wa4321wa4321 Posts: 8member
    Bring support for the noria air conditioner!
  • Reply 8 of 27
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 422member
    Not sure how I feel about this. I thought the proprietary chip is what made HomeKit so secure.  Without it, don't see how HomeKit is any more secure than any other standard. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 27
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 504member
    ireland said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    sergioz said:
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    Yes, it means 'less secure'.  
    Or insecure.
    Or loosecure.
    SendMcjak
  • Reply 10 of 27
    jsh56jsh56 Posts: 10member
    No such word as "looser".  Proper use is "more loose".

    More so, the writer is a loser at grammar.

    edited June 2017 robbm
  • Reply 11 of 27
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 171member
    Does Apple still require all hardware products to only be produced at facilities inspected and licensed by Apple? I'm sure that requirement has stifled product development. My understanding is that normally (like for FCC type acceptance) a product is examined to verify it complies with the requirements.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 918member
    ireland said:
    HomeKit ecosystem of available products lacking in this part of the world compared to the US. I also dislike how Phillips have (as far as the average consumer is concerned) currently a near monopoly on the HomeKit lightning market with so-called “starter kits” consisting of three bulbs and an unwanted customer lock-in hub for €200. WTF!? I can get three regular LED bulbs for €15. So sick of these companies ripping us off. I got to believe this is largely due to Apple making the HomeKit development process so completely onerous. Hopefully, for the consumer’s sake some of these new policies help to democratize the HomeKit lighting market.
    Of course, any smart LED bulb has a small computer built in with a radio transceiver & antenna, as well as software development to interface with whatever platforms it's integrated with as well as dedicated controller Apps. Not to mention the order of magnitude lesser economy of scale in manufacturing, given current demand. 

    I don't believe we are getting gouged. Though I do hope over time smart devices become standard and all the things that make them special (and expensive) now can be manufactured at scale, lowering prices. 

    Hopefully HomeKit, specifically, is successful enough to generate economy of scale someday. 
    edited June 2017 patchythepirateStrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 27
    robbmrobbm Posts: 8member
    Jsh56 - depending on the situation both looser and more loose are proper comparatives of loose. As for the point of the article, I'm glad to hear that Apple is taking steps to encourage more adoption of HomeKit.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,886member
    williamh said:
    sergioz said:
    "looser encryption" is that a new "technical" term? 
    I didn't see that term in the article.  What I saw was looser licensing.  
    HomeKit has become a reasonably popular smarthome standard, backed by companies like Philips, IKEA, GE, and Honeywell. Support has however lagged behind Amazon's Echo speakers, which have looser encryption and certification standards for developers.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    igorsky said:
    Not sure how I feel about this. I thought the proprietary chip is what made HomeKit so secure.  Without it, don't see how HomeKit is any more secure than any other standard. 
    You don't need a proprietary chip in your computer to make a secure https connection to your bank. So clearly there are methods for making secure connections without special hardware. Would the chip make it even more secure? Sure. But if the cost of being 5% more secure results in a doubling of the cost (just making up numbers for illustrative purposes), then perhaps the cost/benefit argument doesn't support the special chip. Perhaps Apple will offer different levels of certification so the consumer knows if the HomeKit device uses the chip or not, and if you are hyper-paranoid then you can make sure you only buy chipped devices.

    Besides, Homebrew already allowed you to include a Raspberry Pi on your HomeKit network to provide interactions between HomeKit and non-Homekit devices, which always led me to wonder about this proprietary chip in the first place. Clearly there were ways around that requirement already.

    What I wonder if this would allow 3rd party hubs like Wink or SmartThings to update their firmware and provide a bridge between HomeKit and other protocols such as Zwave and Zigbee. If so, I will gladly eat my previous words that that would never happen.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 27
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,151member
    This is excellent news. I'm sure these products will still be ultra-secure as Apple will require a specific level of software encryption. 
    patchythepiratemagman1979
  • Reply 17 of 27
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 381member
    ireland said:
    HomeKit ecosystem of available products lacking in this part of the world compared to the US. I also dislike how Phillips have (as far as the average consumer is concerned) currently a near monopoly on the HomeKit lightning market with so-called “starter kits” consisting of three bulbs and an unwanted customer lock-in hub for €200. WTF!? I can get three regular LED bulbs for €15. So sick of these companies ripping us off. I got to believe this is largely due to Apple making the HomeKit development process so completely onerous. Hopefully, for the consumer’s sake some of these new policies help to democratize the HomeKit lighting market.
    I hope Apple doesn't do anything to relax security.  The next big scandal that is looming is  replacing ransomware  with massive blackmail where instead of threatening businesses with permanent bricking of data, they threaten individuals with releasing their personal information, e.g., video and audio recordings of what these non-secure devices have been collecting and sending to their servers.  How much will individuals pay to not have those videos and such released????  No, I for one thank Apple for requiring a much more rigorous than Amazon's "bring on all comers" approach.
    cornchip
  • Reply 18 of 27
    bruckheimerbruckheimer Posts: 115member
    Can't wait until they provide support for Honeywell products.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    Can't wait until they provide support for Honeywell products.
    I have a HomeKit enabled Honeywell thermostat.
    cornchip
  • Reply 20 of 27
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,623member
    ireland said:
    HomeKit ecosystem of available products lacking in this part of the world compared to the US. I also dislike how Phillips have (as far as the average consumer is concerned) currently a near monopoly on the HomeKit lightning market with so-called “starter kits” consisting of three bulbs and an unwanted customer lock-in hub for €200. WTF!? I can get three regular LED bulbs for €15. So sick of these companies ripping us off. I got to believe this is largely due to Apple making the HomeKit development process so completely onerous. Hopefully, for the consumer’s sake some of these new policies help to democratize the HomeKit lighting market.
    There is absolutely no Phillips monopoly on HK lighting. At all. 

    Also, the Hue starter bulbs are much more technically capable than a dumb LED bulb. The have multiple color diodes and can replicate many more shades of color -- including warm whites that match incandescent bulbs perfectly. They have controllers and wireless hardware as well. I don't know what their margin is, but of course each will be more expensive than a dumb bulb. Rather than whine about it I've been enjoying them from Day 1 and deriving value. Even upgraded the hub to a HK model to use with the Home app and Siri. awesome. 
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