Apple’s plans for HomeKit to become the de facto platform for the connected home is taking longer than expected to happen because of the company’s obsession with security, according to a recent report.
At the moment, only five HomeKit-compatible accessories are available to buy, including the Ecobee3, Elgato Eve, iHome iSP5 SmartPlug, Insteon Hub and Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit. As we’ve written before, this is promising (if predictable) start, but we’re still very much waiting on the killer app.
And now we know why — since Apple’s strict security requirements on Bluetooth low energy devices is stopping the availability of more devices. As Forbes explains, Apple requires device makers using both WiFi and Bluetooth LE to “use complicated encryption with 3072-bit keys, as well as the super secure Curve25519, which is an elliptic curve used for digital signatures and exchanging encrypted keys.”
These cutting-edge security protocols are fine for Wi-Fi-enabled devices, but ones running over Bluetooth LE are apparently having problems due to the lag caused by the processing demands of generating and sending the necessary security keys.
As the report notes:
“Such lag times render many of these devices useless. For example, a smartlock that makes its user wait 40 seconds before it opens is clearly inferior to a traditional lock. One of HomeKit’s selling point is that it provides a more reliable user experience, so these kinds of lag times will need to be sorted out before Apple can become a major platform for the smart home.”
It’s a tough issue, but I think Apple’s ultimately in the right here. As much as I want to see HomeKit and the connected home live up to its promise, we’re still at the very early stages of the process, and rushing products out there while compromizing on security is simply something Apple doesn’t need to do.
There are so many security concerns in today’s tech world — from NSA surveillance to massive healthcare data breaches — that Apple is doing the right thing by making sure it dots and the i’s and crosses the t’s before lending its name to third-party manufacturers through its certification process.
Even if that does mean I’m left waiting longer until my Jetsons-style future home becomes a reality.