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Apple's HomeKit hub may already be in your house

Christopher Breen | June 20, 2014
HomeKit--a set of tools for controlling your home's devices from your iOS device--looks promising. But what about control from a remote location? Chris Breen has some thoughts.

Wouldn't it be better if each home had a small, power-efficient, always-on, platform-agnostic, Wi-Fi-enabled computer that could talk to your devices both remotely and over a local network?

If you haven't yet glanced over at your Apple TV, now's the time. Beneath its rounded-rectangular shell is a computer running a form of iOS. One of the beauties of iOS (and its sibling OS X) is that it's modular. If you need it to take on a different kind of chore, just add a new software component.

While the current crop of Apple TVs may have processors too puny to handle control of your home (and storage too limited to perform this and other miracles), you're undoubtedly aware that the processors shipping in today's best iPads and iPhones are nearly desktop-class. Throw an A7 processor and some more flash storage into a next-generation Apple TV and you're talking about a hefty hunk of hardware--one that could not only manage your home but also accommodate third-party apps for really opening up the device to media and games.

The benefits should be clear. Here's the gatekeeper for your home's gear--appliances as well as traditional computing devices. Image a Back to My Mac feature that can control everything on the network (and, unlike Back to My Mac, actually works all the time).

But it can also provide a needed security layer. Rather than each device sending the intimate details of your home to Nest, Honeywell, GE, and--perhaps more importantly--Google and Facebook, how about if all this information is stored on the Apple TV and hashed for security. When you need to make adjustments or receive reports, data is transmitted via the Apple TV. Your smart appliances remain dumb to any interaction other than what's been carried on with Apple's home hub. The devices' original manufacturer is none the wiser to what you're doing with them.

I've been wanting a more flexible Apple TV for quite awhile. With the introduction of HomeKit that desire has become a raging passion.


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