Apple Introduces New Home Automation App at WWDC

By Hannah Fullmer | Sep 15, 2016
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By now you’ve probably heard that Apple announced its new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus during the Keynote Event at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the highlights; The newest iPhone incarnation is water- and dust-resistant, and has lost its physical ‘home’ button and headphone jack. 

While most of the world has focused on the latter two changes—mostly to criticize them—Apple also introduced a new home automation app that deserves attention. 

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, introduced Apple’s newest operating system iOS10 and along with it the Home app as a command center for appliances and utilities—such as locks, thermostats, cameras, garage doors, doorbells, and fans—enabled with HomeKit, Apple’s home automation system. 

HomeKit rolled out two years ago with iOS8 during the 2014 WWDC Keynote, but has remained largely hidden on the iPhone; only accessible through the settings menu. 

According to Cook, with the Home app users will be able to “…setup and manage devices throughout the home whether [they’re] at home or away”. Users can control their devices within the app, in the iPhone’s control center by swiping up and then over to access the smart-home section or by using Siri. (For example, “Siri, dim the lights.”)

In addition, to individually controlling devices and accessories, users can create 'scenes' or specific light, temperature and window shade settings for the early morning or night time. They are also able to control devices based on their location using geofencing. For example, when they enter or exit preprogrammed areas with their iPhones, lights could turn on or off, or the thermostat could be set to change when people leave for work. 

During the Keynote Event, Cook said, “HomeKit now supports accessories across all of the major categories of home automation from garage doors to security to everything in between. And virtually every major manufacturer of home automation devices now supports HomeKit. In fact, there are over 100 products coming to market this year.” To find these devices consumers just need to look for the ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ label on a product's box. 

Despite Cook's assurances, Apple HomeKit has some catching up to do when compared with other home automation kits like the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Amazon Echo smart speaker, both of which work with more third-party products than HomeKit. 

Regardless of the current number of products enabled with HomeKit, the Home app will surely create more customers looking for home automated products and systems installed in their homes. 

To learn more about HomeKit and the Home app watch Apple’s Keynote Event video starting at 55:20. 

About The Author

FULLMER is the senior editor at ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Contact her at [email protected]

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