Apple wants to get inside your house before it’s built

“In a darkened master bedroom, David Kaiserman stood in shirtsleeves next to a turned-down king bed. ‘Good morning, Siri,’ he said to the iPad in his hand, and the lights went on while the blackout shades retracted. ‘Your home is ready to rise and shine,’ the virtual assistant replied,” Prashant Gopal reports for Bloomberg. “Inside this four-bedroom stucco house in Alameda, California, Kaiserman, president of the technology division at construction company Lennar Corp., was pitching a vision of a home controlled via iPhone or iPad.”

“Tap your phone, and AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ blasts. Tap again, and the bath runs at a blissful 101 degrees. Sweet, right? Of course, your dad might view it as a bit over the top,” Gopal reports. “All told, $30,000 worth of gadgets and gizmos were on display here, many run with Apple’s free HomeKit app.”

“Apple is teaming up with a handful of builders and using these kinds of test beds to inch its way into the market for Internet-connected home furnishings, a nascent field that has attracted rivals like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Inc.,” Gopal reports. “Unlike Google and Amazon, however, Apple isn’t hawking hardware meant to connect the home. Instead, the HomeKit app could increase the value of its iOS ecosystem — and make it tougher for users to switch to Android phones and tablets. ‘We want to bring home automation to the mainstream,’ said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of product marketing. ‘The best place to start is at the beginning, when a house is just being created.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Smart. Home-buying will be like car-buying is today: “If this car doesn’t have CarPlay, it’s off my list!” “If this house isn’t HomeKit-ready, no way!”


  1. I was trying to find HomeKit enabled power switches and lamp controllers that could be built in as part of a major refurbishment, but couldn’t find any. There’s plenty of plug-in ones, but I couldn’t find any that were intended to be permanently wired in, neatly out of sight. Does such a thing exist?

    If the intention is that new builds should have this sort of infrastructure, then devices need to be available to allow it to happen and we also need to move on from the situation where the lights use one special hub, the heating uses another, while the window blinds use yet another.

    The way that each manufacturer currently uses a unique hub is quite absurd. Every device should be controlled either via Bluetooth / WiFi, or through a universal hub, preferably an Apple TV.

    1. GE and Lutron make most of the wired switches. I have quite a few in my home, but they’re all working through the Iris by Lowes system. My hope is that some of the existing systems… Iris, Wink, etc. will eventually utilize HomeKit as their app.

      The problem is (as anyone who has a connected home would tell you) that each device and manufacturer has different features and capabilities, particularly as you move to more complex devices like Thermostats or Sprinkler Controllers. But even a ceiling fan switch may have features that Apple hasn’t baked into HomeKit. For example: what about a fan with 6 speeds, not just the standard 3. Even today, my Honeywell Thermostat can do more than the Iris app has been programmed to support, like humidity control and fan speed.

      Additionally, connectivity of the devices is often a challenge. Devices get our of range or unpair for whatever reason. I’ve yet to see how Apple is going to handle devices that go rouge. Are they going to say ‘call the manufacturer’? Because that will just send the consumer in circles.

      I’m eager to see HomeKit work and gain adoption, but I also have enough experience in home automation and with Apple to know that there are some hurdles that need to be cleared.

  2. Yeah, it’s awesome for all of us just getting ready to design and build that new house! I’m sure most of us here are just about to do it.
    I’ll have to concede that I will likely be in my 110 year old house for a while, and I’ll have to put up with the sad, add-on stuff the rest of us in the ghetto must use…

  3. Apple needs to make their own home kit devices for compatibility and fluidity. Kinda like all their other hardware that ‘just works’ and not depend on the PC style mish-mash of devices and peripherals, form a bunch of different manufacturers like the PC world has to depend on.

  4. Yeah, my dad said many moons ago that his next move would be 3 miles west of town and 6 feet under. (And it was.) Probably the same for me.

    But retrofits and add-ons won’t take off until the people spending big bucks on new construction start to validate the concept. Then we’ll all eventually benefit.

  5. I purchased property this year that has a small cabin on it and that I will build a home on later for vacation and later – my primary residence in retirement. The place is 2,384 miles from my current home, so I want to build a smart home that I can monitor remotely and that can alert me if things go wrong.

    I have been trying out some of the HomeKit stuff and it is still not ready for Prime Time. First, there is no Macintosh app for HomeKit- it is iOS only, which is ignorant beyond all reason. Next, the use of the Apple TV as a server between the Bluetooth devices and the internet for remote access seems to break every time Apple does a software update.

    If the system is not bulletproof reliable it is worthless. Apple is used to pushing the envelope and sometimes breaking things, but devices that control HVAC, entry to the home, monitor for Fire, Flood, Forced Entry, Air Quality and energy usage have to be bulletproof and stable. I am not sure that Apple has a good grip on stable.

    I need a reliable system that I know will not go stupid every time Apple releases a point update on part of the chain. I need to know that it has failsafes installed so that a run away Heater or A/C unit can be shut down, that a power or internet outage will not throw the whole thing into a tailspin.

    Apple has a long record of half effort software and internet services. eWorld, iTools, Mobile Me, Ping, iCloud (still not ready for prime time), Sherlock, iTunes University, Garage Band Lessons, etc. They also have a record of letting stuff languish like the Apple HiFi and recently the entire Macintosh line. Then they have a habit of blowing up software with little notice like iWork (removing features the Mac version to allow iOS versions) and the Final Cut Suite (still lacking features on X that the old suite had years after the fact). Otherwise, Apple’s name is not the best in the neighborhood.

    I can wait a little while, but only a little while. If they do with HomeKit what they just did with Titan (cancelled the Car to go with Telematics and AI) you will be wasting your money betting on Apple to tie it together. I’m hoping to be surprised, but am skeptical.

    1. You touch upon avery important consideration here. If you decide to automate your home, the investment will be hundreds or thousands of dollars and there might be significant extra costs for installation.

      If somebody has spent that much money on an important aspect of their home, they might reasonably expect it to keep working for 20 years or more. Most of us will have encountered problems with OS updates that stop working with existing peripherals. If that peripheral happens to be your entire home heating and lighting system, then the consequences could be very serious.

      We need Apple to take this issue seriously. It’s not enough to simply provide a system that works seamlessly today, they need to guarantee that it will still continue to work seamlessly for decades to come and won’t be abandoned when the spreadsheet suggests that it’s had it’s day.

      I’ve suggested before that Apple should develop a ‘recycle” version of IOS for old devices. It would provide a basic level of functionality so that the device that might otherwise be discarded can continue to be used for things like remote controls and displays for A/V systems or home automation.

      1. dil·et·tante
        noun: dilettante; plural noun: dilettantes; plural noun: dilettanti
        a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

        That aptly describes many of Apple’s efforts over the years.

        When was the last time you saw an ad for an iPod, a Mac, an Airport Base Station, a Time Capsule, Mac Server, iWork?

        How many of have been left on an island when Apple killed Final Cut Studio, crippled Logic, killed Aperture, turned OS X server into a toy, killed the Mac Pro Workstation for a glorified Home Theater PC (trashcan)? I remember paying for .Mac service and being promised dedicated widgets and apps that just never appeared.

        Maybe the fact that Apple runs many of it’s services on Microsoft SW and on Amazon Web Services shows us how committed they are to developing computer hardware and software. The answer appears to be not very.

        Apple is a huge and rich company that should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time- actually they should be able to run and chew gum with the resources they have. Maybe somebody at Apple needs to set up a Skunk Works, fly a Pirate Flag and get busy with the next disuptive technologies. Apple under Tim Cook looks more like a follower than a leader and more like a rich brat than a scrappy, hungry kid.

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