Screw smart light bulbs, we’re still waiting for HomeKit’s killer app


Elgato smart bulbs are well and great, but we want more.
Elgato smart bulbs are all well and great, but we want more.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The home of the future arrived today and, while not exactly a whimper, it wasn’t much of a bang either.

Where are the smart voice-activated refrigerators? Where are the Jetsons-style gizmos that have us firing up our Apple Pay, and convince us that Apple is taking home automation seriously?

While there’s nothing wrong with what we got, it was the same predictable range of smart light bulbs, thermostats, and other gadgets that techies have had for years.

And after a year of waiting, we want more. Much more.

HomeKit has been around for almost exactly twelve months now. It was announced at the 2014 WWDC as a big paradigm shift, an effort on Apple’s part to put itself in the center of the smart device market.

That’s a smart decision in itself. The fast-growing home-automation business is expected to hit $48 billion by 2018. If Apple can position itself just right, it can own this market — while using it to further suck people into the vortex that is the Apple ecosystem.

We might jump from iPhone to Android if we like the look of a new Samsung phone, but we’re sure to think twice about it if this means throwing our HomeKit-dependent smart home into chaos in the process.

But so far Apple hasn’t given us a good reason to care about HomeKit. There’s been no marketing push to sell us on the transformative power of a home that “just works.”

Last year, the big sell was health. Before iOS 8 arrived, or Apple Watch was revealed as more than just another rumor, iPhone ads were already full of messages about how much health-tracking was going to transform our lives.

As of yet, there’s been nothing on Apple’s part to underline how strongly it feels about the smart home. This should be a major event; not just a few new third-party devices released at some arbitrary date set by Apple.

What’s missing in this, of course, is the fact that next week is WWDC. Much like everyone rushed out smartwatches before the Apple Watch, there’s a good chance that today’s smattering of new products is just there to represent the calm before the HomeKit storm.

I’m now furiously hoping that Apple makes HomeKit a major talking point of WWDC. It needs to pull out all the stops to convince more than just the few people who have already bought smart lightbulbs and the like why this is something which will change the way you live.

We need the killer app for home automation.

And, as nice as today’s products undoubtedly are, it looks like we’ll be waiting until (at least) next week to get it!


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