Editorial: Apple isn't revamping its HomeKit team, but maybe it should

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2020
Bloomberg believes that Apple is hiring people to overhaul how the company's HomeKit devices work with third-party products. The report is based on disprovable information, yet it is true that Apple both should and could do much more with the technology.

HomePod and the
HomePod and the "Works with HomeKit" logo


According to Bloomberg, Apple is currently hiring a new team of engineers to revamp its HomeKit offerings. Reportedly, it's because Apple has fallen behind Amazon and Google in the smart home field.

The report seems to be extrapolated chiefly from recruitment ads on Apple's official jobs board, and that's unsteady ground. Bloomberg says 15 HomeKit jobs have been posted in the last month, although the site is currently showing only 12. Of all HomeKit jobs posted at any time and still available, there are 26.

AppleInsider, and others, have been tracking Apple's job HomeKit job postings for years. The claim that 15 is notable for the last month is wrong. Apple consistently posts around this number of HomeKit-related jobs per month, with 30 available at any given time. These numbers have been steady for over a year, and were higher in 2017.

Then Bloomberg belabors that the posts are all for engineers, but goes on to justify this with details about jobs that are clearly not engineering. While some ask for experience in developing wireless, battery powered devices, others are about supply chain expertise. Like they have always been.

Similarly, Bloomberg claims that the overall aim of the new team is specifically to get more third-party companies to develop products that work with Apple's HomeKit technology. That may very well involve engineers, but you have to think they're more likely to be needed at these third-party firms than at Apple.

One of the current HomeKit-related jobs posted on Apple's recruitment site.
One of the current HomeKit-related jobs posted on Apple's recruitment site.


Bloomberg does also claim that sources have told it the company is directly headhunting potential candidates. But, it always does this in every field it works in. Furthermore, another unnamed source reportedly says that Apple previously had a team working on creating its own smart home devices such as doors, but suspended the work.

A source within Apple corporate not authorized to speak on behalf of the company told AppleInsider that "there have been no notable changes to the HomeKit development team."

Only, maybe there should be.

Talking more about HomeKit

Bloomberg is right that HomeKit devices lag far behind Amazon's Echo and Google's Home ones. We might wish that both of those companies were more privacy and security conscious as Apple is, but if you pick up a smart device, it's certainly going to work with them.

And whatever the smart device is that you want, there will be an Amazon and a Google one, there may well not be an Apple HomeKit one. That's particularly true internationally, but even within the US, your range of products is quite limited.

Apple has made a move that could be designed to help this. It's announced HomeKit Secure Video as part of iOS 13, which will store your security footage on Apple's servers. That will unquestionably make HomeKit cameras more appealing to buyers because it will doubtlessly be convenient, plus it's easier to trust Apple with your footage than it is an unknown third-party.

Note the
Ikea says its smart blinds will work with HomeKit - but not yet. You can bet they work with Alexa, though.


Yet although firms such as Logitech have said that they will support HomeKit Secure Video, it's not likely to see a rush of vendors. That's because home security firms don't just rely on selling you a camera, they need you to buy services such as footage storage and retrieval.

If Apple made a camera, you'd call HomeKit Security Video a killer feature, especially as a certain amount of the storage will be free if you already pay for extra iCloud storage.

What it needs is HomeKit evangelism, like how it sold Macs back in the day.

And then, there's the AirPort

Where Apple could make a killer feature that made HomeKit more appealing and yet didn't drive away other vendors, is in its existing products.

The Apple TV and HomePod, for instance, are already able to act as a HomeKit hub in your house. It's there, it's plugged in, it's working with HomeKit. What would it take for Apple to embed a mesh Wi-Fi system into that same hardware.

Along with that, Apple could make Wi-Fi routers again. Even if these somehow weren't as typically easy to use as most Apple gear, the fact that they won't be spying on you, and could have guaranteed HomeKit certification including HomeKit Camera support are huge things.

Bloomberg's report today appears to be wrong, like its famously poor reporting on the iCloud spy chip debacle. But, that doesn't mean that consumers wouldn't benefit from a little HomeKit attention.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    "Apple could make Wi-Fi routers again" oh don't go with that crazy talk. All the smart people here know "Apple isn't in the router business because it is a category well served."  ;)

    Apple exiting this market is one of the dumbest things they've done recently. Sure they aren't making millions from it but it sure can help them sell the message of we care about your privacy... Stupid, stupid, bean counters.
    DAalsethstompyJWSCFileMakerFellermuthuk_vanalingamlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 803member
    I have pretty much given up on HomeKit ands it did not have to be this way.

    Exactly why cannot the 100 million Macintosh computers- many of which are sitting on desks in homes - cannot be used as a hub for HomeKit? It makes a lot more sense to use a desktop Mac than have to use the Apple TV or an iPad. And the question about dropping AirPort when it would have made a good HomeKit hub is also valid.

    I have no doubt that Tim Cook is a smart guy and well intentioned, but I wonder if he has the vision or the passion to see this stuff live up to the promise and potential.
    edited October 2019 JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Based on reading reviews for devices that work for Alexa and Google, the grass isn’t greener on their side either. For those of you who use Homekit and are frustrated over intermittent access and other issues can be assured that your experience isn’t any better using competing systems.

    I believe part of the problem is that Homekit and Siri are two different teams and should be combined into 1 big team to fix issues where Siri can’t see Homekit hardware, but the Home app can. Also with iOS 13, I have noticed it takes much longer for Homekit to update the status of the devices. 

    Hopefully any new talent can give Apple insight and perspective on how to improve Homekit and give the Apple bean counters a reason to invest heavily into it if a reliable service comes out of it. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    What is HomeKit?

    /rolleyes
    edited October 2019 spice-boyJWSC
  • Reply 5 of 19
    I'm happy with Homekif in general, it works reliably most times, with a fairly simple set up. Siri on the other hand is such a pain! Success rate is about 75% and it doesn't under context. Why can't they add whispering options or a shut up schedule for it? I hate when every I whisper "all light off" late at night, and Siri shouts "OK, ALL THE LIGHTS ARE OFF NOW!" This is the kind attention to detail Apple used to be known for, but I guess Alexa and even Google are beating them on their own game.
    JWSC
  • Reply 6 of 19

    Based on reading reviews for devices that work for Alexa and Google, the grass isn’t greener on their side either. 
    Wow, what a high bar to set...
    JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    Bloomberg's report today appears to be wrong, like its famously poor reporting on the iCloud spy chip debacle. But, that doesn't mean that consumers wouldn't benefit from a little HomeKit attention.


    Ah yes, Bloomberg. That's the one that published Steve's obituary prematurely. Right, I don't read anything from them.
    lkruppStrangeDayslostkiwiGG1lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    In my experience, at least, HomeKit reliability has been improving. It's anecdotal, but it seems like after the most recent iOS and tvOS updates, requested actions generally happen faster, and with fewer occurrences of failures because everything is momentarily "updating" in HomeKit. Still wondering about HomePod iOS updates, though...

    I agree with regard to the Apple router question. Stepping back from that category just as they're pushing forward with HomeKit and their position as the champion of security and privacy is the least Apple-like thing Apple has done in recent years. I'm quite certain I'm not alone in preferring to have Apple handle all the networking security this side of the modem. It would be good indeed if they would re-enter that market soon, along with a bigger push with HomeKit. 
    JWSClolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,154member
    razorpit said:
    Apple exiting this market is one of the dumbest things they've done recently. Sure they aren't making millions from it but it sure can help them sell the message of we care about your privacy... Stupid, stupid, bean counters.
    Not really. While I would love to have Apple routers again, there are plenty to choose from other than Google or Amazon. I don't think Apple needs router sales to reenforce the message of caring about user privacy, which they implement via their OS-powered products. I imagine they'll continue to be able to sell those products (with privacy as a selling point) very well.
    edited October 2019
  • Reply 10 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,008member
    This story is just another variation on the “Apple should open up its walled garden” and place nice with the competition theme. But in this case Apple does not manufacture any of its own smart switches, light bulbs, outlets, garage door openers, etc. and those who do must make their devices compatible with HomeKit if they want to sell to Apple users. Many of them don’t. We see ads every day about some company partnering with Amazon and Google with no mention of HomeKit or Apple. I myself stick with iDevices gear because I know it will work with HomeKit and Siri. On the other hand a refrigerator with Siri embedded sounds creepy. But as Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, on the other hand AAPL is approaching $250 having zoomed past MSFT market cap wise so even with Amazon, Google, and Spotify kicking Apple’s ass in some people’s opinions they don’t seem to be fretting over it. I know I’m not.
    edited October 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,498member
    What?!? Bloomberg published a story with a sensationalist claim that was debunked totally with five minutes of actual research?
    I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.
    /sarcasm
    StrangeDaysmacguilostkiwilolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,154member
    I have a dozen HK lights, and a couple outlets and switches. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but for the past several years they work great and blend into the background of my house, operating on scenes, manual instructions from the app, and Siri commands. 

    The only flaky element in my setup is an iHome environmental sensor in the attic, which routinely becomes unresponsive until power cycled. It's the only item that doesn't work, and the iHome app also crashes every single time I try to open it, so I'm guessing they don't know what they're doing.
    edited October 2019 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    I used to have a bunch of issues with HomeKit — found out it was device related rather than HomeKit related.  I had about 20 Leviton Decora switches that would constantly need to be rebooted for them to respond (every other day one switch would fail).

    I soon gave up and replaced them with Lutron switches and haven’t had one issue in almost a year.  I have about 40 devices (switches, outlets, locks, hue bulbs) and don’t run into any issues anymore.  I’ve had 100% uptime for 8-9 months now.  The Leviton switches would cause mDNS issues in the network causing other branded devices to stop responding.
    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 14 of 19
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,990member
    HomeKit and HomePod don't play well together. Or maybe it's just HomeKit Siri, which is not the same as iPhone and iPad Siri.

    I got my HP at the $249 price, and that's a little too much for what I can get out of it. Adding another one for stereo would probably be an improvement in my listening experience, but not a good ROI.

    I don't know where the fault lies– HK, Apple, or Siri. 

    Apple routers are another matter. There was no sense in Apple staying in the router market. Third-parties were easily besting Apple's performance for less money. The AEBSs' strength was in design, which has been equaled or surpassed by mesh routers (unless you like the stealth F-117 look), and in simplicity of installation and connection. They dropped the ball in granularity of control. They were the Mac equivalent of iOS implementation.

    I bought a the last model (Gen 6) of AEBS when they were discontinued because it was more powerful than my Gen 5) router, and was easy to set up. I'll swap it out one day when the fan dies and I can't resuscitate it, and mesh is much cheaper than it is. 
  • Reply 15 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,154member
    macgui said:
    HomeKit and HomePod don't play well together. Or maybe it's just HomeKit Siri, which is not the same as iPhone and iPad Siri.

    I got my HP at the $249 price, and that's a little too much for what I can get out of it. Adding another one for stereo would probably be an improvement in my listening experience, but not a good ROI.
    That hasn't been my experience. I have two HPs, which delivery tremendous audio for our movies and TV, as well as music, and they have continued to function as expected for barking HK commands to. Activate this scene, that scene, turn down these lights, etc. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    boboqboboq Posts: 13member
    It’s incredible to me how much mileage Bloomberg is getting out of their clickbait. 
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    macgui said:
    HomeKit and HomePod don't play well together. Or maybe it's just HomeKit Siri, which is not the same as iPhone and iPad Siri.

    I got my HP at the $249 price, and that's a little too much for what I can get out of it. Adding another one for stereo would probably be an improvement in my listening experience, but not a good ROI.

    I don't know where the fault lies– HK, Apple, or Siri. 

    Apple routers are another matter. There was no sense in Apple staying in the router market. Third-parties were easily besting Apple's performance for less money. The AEBSs' strength was in design, which has been equaled or surpassed by mesh routers (unless you like the stealth F-117 look), and in simplicity of installation and connection. They dropped the ball in granularity of control. They were the Mac equivalent of iOS implementation.

    I bought a the last model (Gen 6) of AEBS when they were discontinued because it was more powerful than my Gen 5) router, and was easy to set up. I'll swap it out one day when the fan dies and I can't resuscitate it, and mesh is much cheaper than it is. 
    You (and others) don't provide a solid reason for Apple to get out of that business. The AEBS was the original mesh router. Did it work exactly like the mesh routers of today? No, but that doesn't mean a new version couldn't. You could load your house up with Expresses and accomplish the same thing.

    Yes they dropped the ball in granularity of control, but a lot of that can be addressed in software/firmware. Just update it.

    People could argue Samsung/Pixel phones are equal in features/quality as the iPhone. Should they drop iPhones? How many streaming boxes are there now? Kill AppleTV? Heck the AppleTV+ software is on competing devices. If there was ever a case to kill a product this is a text book example.

    Problem is where does it end?
    mobirdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,523member
    razorpit said:
    macgui said:
    HomeKit and HomePod don't play well together. Or maybe it's just HomeKit Siri, which is not the same as iPhone and iPad Siri.

    I got my HP at the $249 price, and that's a little too much for what I can get out of it. Adding another one for stereo would probably be an improvement in my listening experience, but not a good ROI.

    I don't know where the fault lies– HK, Apple, or Siri. 

    Apple routers are another matter. There was no sense in Apple staying in the router market. Third-parties were easily besting Apple's performance for less money. The AEBSs' strength was in design, which has been equaled or surpassed by mesh routers (unless you like the stealth F-117 look), and in simplicity of installation and connection. They dropped the ball in granularity of control. They were the Mac equivalent of iOS implementation.

    I bought a the last model (Gen 6) of AEBS when they were discontinued because it was more powerful than my Gen 5) router, and was easy to set up. I'll swap it out one day when the fan dies and I can't resuscitate it, and mesh is much cheaper than it is. 
    You (and others) don't provide a solid reason for Apple to get out of that business. The AEBS was the original mesh router. Did it work exactly like the mesh routers of today? No, but that doesn't mean a new version couldn't. You could load your house up with Expresses and accomplish the same thing.

    Yes they dropped the ball in granularity of control, but a lot of that can be addressed in software/firmware. Just update it.

    People could argue Samsung/Pixel phones are equal in features/quality as the iPhone. Should they drop iPhones? How many streaming boxes are there now? Kill AppleTV? Heck the AppleTV+ software is on competing devices. If there was ever a case to kill a product this is a text book example.

    Problem is where does it end?
    I really hope Apple re-enters the router market.  Apple's Airport Extreme (and Express) were the best-built, highest quality products in the market.  They are built like tanks, use quality components, and do not fail.  That's the primary reason I miss when Apple exited the market.  I think lots of people don't take that into consideration.  Sure the competition may have had better offerings, but in the end, they were all physical junk.  The used cheap, shoddy components that would be unstable after a month, and/or fail after a year.  I bought dozens of Apple routers over the years as I own quite a few apartment buildings in the bay area and provide free internet access to all the units.  Each unit has its own AE device.  Prior to that, I went through every brand and they all were miserable that I almost debated not including  Internet access because of the maintenance headaches.  When I tried the more expensive Apple offering, not one unit has ever failed.  That's important.

    All these fancy offerings that the competitors harp about is overrated.  The majority of folks just want basic WiFi.  Apple does that flawlessly.  

    JWSCGG1watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Apple's not getting back into the router game until Thread is fully baked.  

    When they do I think they'll offer routers with HomeKit support with Thread. 
    They will likely be mesh but the form factor is going to be like the Plume system

    The plug-in wifi modules will not only form a Wifi Mesh but will also be UWB
    beacons.   Apple will have its own custom roaming IP that allows your Mac 
    or iOS device to seamlessly hop to the strongest module. 

    Apple will then be able to deliver a more powerful system of parental control 
    for $5 per month covering all iCloud Family users.  

     


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