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HomeKit at CES: It's all about simplicity

Susie Ochs | Jan. 12, 2015
Apple's MFI partners are rolling out simple devices with easy control and strong security. Welcome HomeKit.

What's next
It's still early days. As devices start to hit the market, I think the focus on ease of use and Made-for-iPhone hardware quality will help mainstream connected home devices for people who might want to start smaller and more cheaply than a $TK Nest or a $200 Dropcam--which are both terrific, but will likely never work with Siri.

HomeKit at its best will allow device manufacturers to add extra features and value to their products to appeal to iOS users, without having to reinvent the wheel each time. And as people start to use these products, the companies will get invaluable feedback about how their customers are using them, which can inform future iterations.

Chamberlain, for example, makes garage door openers, which is something you might buy every 15 or 20 years at the least--but add Bluetooth and an app and suddenly the company has a chance to connect with you every day, instead of just once every 15 years. If Chamberlain can find out that HomeKit users are pairing their smart garage door openers with another company's camera because they want not just the ability to open the garage door, but also to see who's coming and going and when, that can influence future products and app development so eventually you don't need a camera to produce the same result. Of course, users should be able to opt-in for what kinds of data is shared, but what Chamberlain described seems like it follow's Apple's philosophy for collecting user data--to get only enough to let the products work and for the company to keep making those products better, but not to sell the data or build profiles of individual users to market to them later.

A full slideshow of every HomeKit device I saw at CES is coming soon, but for now I'm as excited about the possibilities as I am full of questions: Will the Apple TV get stronger Bluetooth and Siri soon, and maybe a HomeKit interface for the biggest screen in your house? Will macros be as easy to set up as they are to run? (Logitech, for example, still hasn't nailed macro setup for the Harmony series of smart remotes.) Keep your eyes on Macworld, because the HomeKit story is just beginning--and let us know all your thoughts and questions about it in the comments.


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