iOS 8 HomeKit at WWDC

@ben, Thank you for taking your time replying to my ramblings :slight_smile: I’m fairly new to SmartThings, but not to Home Automation in general. It’s been a tower of Babel since the advent of X10 with every newcomer aiming to end the chaos and ultimately failing. Does anyone still remember Android @Home? Now let’s see if Apple has what it takes to change the world.

These days everyone wants to be a “platform”. Android, iOS, Linux and Windows are THE platforms because there’re tens of thousands OEMs and software developers making hardware and writing software for them. I think it takes a bit more than declaring one’s system a “platform” to become one :smile: Again, sorry for my skepticism, I thing you’re doing excellent job pushing this rock uphill :slight_smile:

…including integration with Siri®. For example, you can tell Siri you are “going to bed” and it could dim the lights, lock your doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat.

Bah… who needs Siri? I already use UBI and SmartThings to open/close my garages, turn on/off a number of lights, and perform ‘goodnight’ functions.


I appreciate what you’re saying and I don’t disagree in principle. But I think you’re missing the boat here a little bit too. SmartThings isn’t trying to replace any operating system… they’re an app that runs on those OSes (at least some).

The are an app that runs on a customers phone/tablet and communicates to the cloud to access both SmartThings hardware, as well as an extensive, and growing, list of other hardware.

I honestly don’t see that as being terribly different that what it appears Apple intends to do.

First off, someone from ST needs to be in WWDC session 213 tomorrow at 4:30 PM.

My feeling is home kit is like passbook. Passbook doesn’t eliminate the United, Eventbrite or walgreen’s app from my iPhone, but gives them an aggregated view for an important functionality that is easier to get at because of it. I see them doing the same thing with home automation. It is a drag having to find and start an app every time I want to do something in ST (forget about the fact that I have, myQ, iaqualink and airfoil apps). If home automation actions were surfaced in Siri or notification center that would be valuable especially if they can get those other apps integrated. ST or another hub would still have an important role, but apple wants to make the experience easier and more uniform.

All I know is that if I can say “Hey Siri, turn off the porch lights” instead of having to fumble through an app, I’ll be a happy guy.


@Ben I agree with you 100% I doubt that Apple is going to control anything Z-wave, etc directly. However, I’m sure it will control wifi/BT devices and like many have already mentioned it will probably have the ability to control anything that currently has an app today. The list of devices mentioned in the first post (locks, lights, cameras, doors, etc) is pretty extensive. Yes, there are fewer choices, but there are still choices. Plus, now that apple is onboard it is a matter of months before this list grows exponentially.

I use SmartThings and I like it, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but this is probably going to be a serious challenge for you. You’re going after the same target market with a similar value prop.

Hopefully, you can integrate with the apple solution in a way that adds value or you might be stuck selling to android and windows users.

if a big company like apple announces that it’s getting on-board with something I can only see this as a good thing - let’s see what the WWDC session brings to the table. If I remember correctly, a video will be available afterwards for us all to view.

Here’s an interesting thought - how about the prospect of a future Apple TV or Mac Mini acting as a hub for HomeKit?

@Ben et al…

Right now looking at HomeKit its a framework and not an App installed on iOS 8. With Extensions (that someone has already mentioned) I see this as an opportunity for SmartThings to actually extend their offering as I can’t work out how it will work without a Hub of sorts as the iPhone etc does not have all the radios built in to control anything other than BT and WiFi.

Apple mentions that Hardware providers/manufacturers can contact them to discuss the HomeKit Accessory Protocol that they need to use to make use of HomeKit.

So right now according to the HomeKit Framework API its a method to allow third party apps to perform functions within iOS thus giving an App the ability to turn on lights etc etc.

It also has the ability to work with Siri to give voice control which is something that has not been available before.

I see HomeKit being a tool that will allow SmartThings to control devices in a different/additional way within the App and within iOS generally.

Its an opportunity for the SmartThings Platform to grow and a great opportunity for SmartThings to get ahead of the game and bring their product to a huge audience on the back of Apple and the release of iOS 8.

Another thought is that iBeacon integration will also be much much easier using HomeKit.

If you are an Apple Developer you can find out all about HomeKit in the iOS 8 Beta docummentation it makes interesting reading.

Exciting times!


Thanks, Jon. I think that your stance on this is correct and I agree that these are exciting times!

I’m assuming that Smartthings has been in contact or will be contacting apple to discuss the HomeKit Accessory Protocol - and perhaps there’s some things you can’t yet tell us due to NDAs :smile:

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I’m excited to see what Google announces at I/O this month too. They have been buying up all sorts of home automation startups as well as companies that have a storied past. Im thinking Google will also announce something along these lines. With nest in their pocket, the fact that they eyed Dropcam(which would of been cool because they API would have been opened), and there purchase of 3vNet for its home automation patents in late 2013 Google may be gearing up to put home automation into a billion devices.

I see a war brewing. I am excited to see what iOS 8 can offer for home automation but im also excited to see what Google has brewing. Especially with the idea of Android Wear and using google now to control my home from my wearable device.

I see a bright future for home automation and hopefully both platforms will be open for all the develop for! :smile:

I agree with Jon,
I have been studying the docs and basically without getting to much into the NDA stuff a lightbulb such as Lifx, or Hue can communicate to home kit and say, I am a lightbulb. Same for a sonos or a door sensor. as examples. Then an app like Smartthings can look at the shared database of items and control it through the app or through siri. This would allow for smart things to easily subscribe to the database and not have to write control code to integrate new offerings. (also could potentially solve the problem of having to delete all your things when adding a new hue bulb) Home kit allows the device to publish that it is there and what it can do (turn on dim, change color, what not). I see this as a great way to add in new devices to smart things faster as the hardware provider is doing the leg work to integrate with a standard and not having to work with smart things directly or smarthings having to wait for a published API and build it themselves.

There is allot of reason for both to be complimentary solutions in the connected home.

I for one and excited and have been playing with the new os’s that were released yesterday. (if you ever need a beta tester hit me up)


Ben Edwards:

First of all, let me say that I am a big fan of ST, and really want to see it succeed. I am imagining that the Apple announcement yesterday must have caused a fair degree of chaos at ST. In once sense, it is fantastic for SmartThings because it goes a long way towards validating the space. On the other hand, it will cause a fair degree of confusion for people who are not educated about the space. Even if there was zero overlap between Apple and SmartThings, Apples announcement has the potential to slow sales while people “wait and see” what will come with the IOS 8 release. Unfortunately, there is not zero overlap, especially in messaging.

Because of this overlap, and the fear that Apple’s over-positioning of this feature could have serious consequences for SmartThings, the natural tendency would be to steer clear of Apple so as to not get crushed by their marketing machine. I suggest steering into the skid. Announce your total support of HomeKit, and say that the combination of HomeKit and SmartThings is the best thing since butter and bread. Even if the most significant benefit is that you get a Siri front end to SmartThings, it will be fine. People will continue to buy from you if they feel that their investment is safe.

For the uneducated, hearing that SmartThings and Apple will work together is enough to put aside their concerns. To the people that do their research, they will see that SmartThings already delivers well on this value proposition, and that the success of HomeKit depends on the adoption of too many parties to do anything but “wait and see”.

This announcement may be the greatest thing that happened to SmartThings, or it may be the quagmire you drown in, depending on how you execute in the coming weeks.


Ha. Thanks. Your “steer into the skid” comment is more akin to what we are doing, but we don’t nearly see the announcement of messaging as in any way dire - except in the way you point out - if it makes people “wait and see”. Fortunately WWDC is a developer-focused conference and Homekit is a developer-focused feature (for now).

We have every intention of integrating what Homekit offers into the offering for our customers. We also have every intention of remaining true to our promise of an open platform for the internet of things and are excited to see what comes of Google/Nest and others. It isn’t lip service to say that a “rising tide raises all boats”. This industry will see phenomenal growth in the next decade. If these bigger companies dipping their (big) toes in makes that growth happen sooner, all the better for SmartThings and our community.


I’m generally very excited about HomeKit and Apple’s entry into this field. HomeKit won’t be a replacement for ST hub, as it’s been established well now, because we need a hub that is always home (and not leave with you in your pocket) and speaks z-wave/zigbee. I’m also partial to ST when it comes to setting up rules via actions and smart apps because Apple usually doesn’t give you all the flexibility of granular control and I don’t think I can replace ST rules with whatever Homekit may bring, at least not initially. Personally I see ST as the main engine that runs my home.

However I do want to be able to replace the user facing part of home automation with Apple’s solution, an Apple branded dashboard if you will. Be it Siri or a quick access to controls I wish HomeKit would be granted deep enough access to ST’s function to take over the day to day control. Even at the minor risk of ST looking like a layer in HA rather than the main platform, I think this will boost the overall HA value in iOS ecosystem.

I can’t wait to hear more about HK, because I have a big concern. Is it just an interface for HA devices or is it a “tasker”? No one wants to use their phone to control their house completely. That is the exact opposite of what automation should be. We should have a house that reacts to us, not one where we have to pull out our phone unlock it, launch and app, and press a button…or even talking to Siri and eliminating a few steps. Now, I think it has a lot of use as a “remote”.

Personally, I would love to see someone come out with a mic/speaker combination for each room with noise/echo cancellation. This is the Ubi and a few others out there, but It should deb simpler. Imagine something that is installed in a gang box on the wall, surface mounted, or tabletop that sends the voice command back to a hub for processing, like an aTV…then HK takes over and talks to the ST Hub, etc to do things.

Then we would finally be living on the Enterprise. :smile:

Here’s some conceptual info from the HomeKit SDK:

By promoting a common protocol for home automation devices and making a public API available for configuring and communicating with those devices, Home Kit makes possible a marketplace where the app a user controls their home with doesn’t have to be created by the vendor who made their home automation accessories, and where home automation accessories from multiple vendors can all be integrated into a single coherent whole without those vendors having to coordinate directly with each other.

So the emphasis is clearly on unbundling home automation hardware from the apps provided by the hardware vendors which are typically terrible due to lack of expertise and resources. This is similar to where SmartThings tries to position themselves. The key difference of course is that HomeKit runs on iOS device locally rather than in the cloud and thus immune to network outage, latencies due to server congestion and other nasties associated with cloud service. Huge plus, IMHO.

Makes me wonder if the real kicker will be revealed during much anticipated AppleTV update. The expectation is that AppleTV will get its own AppStore, meaning that HomeKit apps could run on AppleTV and you could control your smart home remotely like this:

[iPhone] <-> [iCloud] <-> [AppleTV] <-> [HomeKit Accessories]


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So if you want to get really excited about HomeKit then download the WWDC App from the iOS app store (it seems its freely available as it is on the front page of the App Store) and go and watch session 213 Introducing HomeKit.

Some of the things I picked out is that in the code demo’s they make reference to Bridges when discussing LED light control and I think they are using the Hue Bulbs as an example. So yes bridges and hubs are still part of the equation.

It seems to have great rule building options built in and looks very very flexible. Not sure (as I haven’t dug very deep on the documentation) but I think that it would work to control the system that have devices that are wifi or BT locally without cloud access. I don’t see it working with Z-Wave etc unless there is a bridge for that system that works locally (such as the Hue Bridge or Sonos Bridge, and Sonos are about to remove the need for their bridge…) so ST is still very much part of that equation.

I have to say I personally think it puts the ST app at a fork in the road regarding their App implementation but they are ahead of the game when it comes to giving the ability to control multiple radio types.

Really interested to see what @Ben and the rest of the ST team think about all of this even though its early days for HomeKit.

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For the lazy

Session 213
Introducing HomeKit (173mb) HD
Introducing HomeKit (53mb) SD

Most home automation systems on the market today are using WiFi natively (e.g. Nest, Dropcam, Wemo) and those that are not, come with their own WiFi bridge (Philips Hue, TCP). The ST hub in this case is as a bridge to a bridge, throwing in its own kinks into the system. It has no other function than converting multiple vendor-specific proprietary protocol into another proprietary protocol. If the HomeKit lets me get rid of it, this alone would be a huge gain.

First time poster here and I will soon be buying a SmartThings hub once I convince myself that I can get Insteon working via an additional hub.

The way to look at HomeKit is that it will allow things to talk across iOS. You still need a hub, some sort of hardware to get all the different physical devices talking. The SmartThings hub provides that service. Even the SmartThings app can gain more functionality. You may be able to say “Hi Siri, I’m going to bed” and the API sends the command to the SmartThings app which then processes the tasks. Or you can have unsupported devices that have their own apps controlled through SmartThings or iOS in general by sending / receiving between apps.

So there really seems to be no indication that Apple is getting into the unified hub business, just that it’s opening up the doors so that companies in that business like SmartThings can expand their capabilities.