The CEO of SmartThings, Alex Hawkinson, confirmed that the company’s system will support HomeKit integration but refrained from going into any details on how deep the integration will run. Mr. Hawkinson confirmed that the company’s latest version of the Hub device is compatible with HomeKit but went on to clarify that Apple’s platform still had a long way to go before it could be taken seriously for integration.
Will the V2 hub support Apple’s HomeKit? I heard the “Made for iDevice” program for home automation products requires some specific chip to be in the device to be compatible for HomeKit. The timing of the new V2 hub seems perfect for HomeKit compatibility. And ST alluded to this at CES, so I hope this comes to life! I have several in-wall GE switches that I would like to all work with HomeKit via the awesome ST hub and ecosystem. So, ST… any word to confirm?
No confirmation one way or the other. The initial comments in the first post of this thread were based on assumptions made from data available at the time. Since then we have learned a lot more about HomeKit, and fewer manufacturers have jumped in.
Here are the big points.
Yes, there’s a very important hardware piece. It’s a special chip. This means that most older devices cannot simply get a firmware upgrade and be HomeKit accessible. The exception is devices like Hue lightbulbs that communicate through a bridge. Maybe just the bridge has to have the chip.
“OK, bridge, yay! so That means SmartThings just has to put the HomeKit chip into the V2 hub and we can control everything with Siri, right?” Uh, no. That’s what a lot of people, including some writing for big magazines, first assumed when the words “bridge” and “other protocols” were used, but it turned out to be way more complicated in practice.
A perfect example is the Insteon HomeKit Hub. One of the first five devices offered for sale with official HomeKit compatability. And Insteon said you could combine HomeKit and nonHomeKit devices in the same scene.
BUT–on closer inspection, it turns out, sure, you can combine them in the same scene and then control them with Siri. But only devices in the HomeKit approved device classes. Not the other nonHomeKit devices that Insteon can control with taps from its other hubs. Parallel, but not really a bridge in the usual sense.
There does seem to be some kind of exception being made for lights. Or maybe it’s only some lights from some companies? Anyway, Lutron released a Caseta Homekit bridge which appears to be an actual bridge–you can use Siri to control your existing Lutron lightswitches with it. (Hmmm…)
And Philips put out an official announcement that not today, but sometime in the Fall (maybe with the release of iOS 9?) existing Hue bulbs will work with HomeKit via some kind of updated Hue bridge.
So we really don’t understand fully yet how putting a HomeKit chip into the ST hub might help. Or not. It’s very murky.
- But it’s not just hardware…Apple requires everyone signing up for the mfI program to agree to the Apple Suppliers Code of Conduct for the factories producing those items. And in some countries that code of conduct goes considerably beyond the local labor laws. For example, Apple prohibits any factory worker from working more than 60 hours in one week even if they’re paid double overtime and they volunteer for the shift. Just can’t do it. It’s Apple’s way of avoiding the appearance of sweatshops, but it’s not at all clear that other big companies want to sign up for it. They also have to allow Apple auditors into their plants for unannounced inspections and to talk to their workers.
So this is one of those things where it might be technically doable, but Samsung still might not want to sign up for.
We’ll just have to see. More discussion of HomeKit issues in the following topic: