Inside Tim Cook's Apple HomeKit-equipped smart home

Neil Hughes for AppleInsider:  During his company's quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday, Cook revealed to analysts and the media that he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine.
"This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago, and it's here today with iOS and HomeKit," he said.
While Cook didn't single out any accessories or products in detailing his routine, Apple's secure authentication for HomeKit gives the company strict control over approved accessories, providing consumers with a relatively small set of options. As of the end of 2016, there were about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.
As such, we can likely narrow down the HomeKit accessories Cook is using in his own home. Here are our recommendations on how you can get a HomeKit experience on par with the head of Apple.  Cont'd...

Apple strategy in 'smart home' race threatened by Amazon

Stephen Nellis for Reuters:   In less than a year, Amazon's combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words.

Yet Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) surprise success sets up a long-term battle with Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O) for primacy in the connected household. And the contours of that competition are following a classic tech industry dynamic.

Amazon is pursuing an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, while Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology in order to assure security and ease-of-use.

The strategic importance of the "connected home" niche looms large: Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions -mainly shopping online - without an Apple phone or a Google Web browser as an intermediary.  Apple needs to keep the iPhone at the center of customers’ lives, and has built a whole home automation architecture, called Homekit, into its smartphone.  Cont'd...

iOS 10.2 improves Apple HomeKit with expanded smart home notifications

Neil Hughes for Apple Insider:  Monday's release of iOS 10.2 brought meaningful changes to Apple's HomeKit platform, giving users the ability to receive instant alerts for a variety of new connected device types in their home.
iOS 10.2 adds support for notifications from a variety of HomeKit accessories, including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door and window detectors, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors.  By default, upon updating to iOS 10.2, users will begin receiving notifications from devices that now support the feature.  These can be enabled or disabled by opening Apple's Home app and selecting the appropriate device via firm press on 3D Touch devices, or long press on non-3D Touch devices. Tap the "Details" button at the bottom, and then scroll down to "Status and Notifications."
Here, users can decide whether the accessory will send notifications every time a sensor is triggered. This can allow the user to receive alerts no matter where they are, such as if a HomeKit smoke detector or motion sensor were triggered.  Cont'd...
 

Apple Wants to Get Inside Your House Before You Buy It

Prashant Gopal for Bloomberg:  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.  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. All told, $30,000 worth of gadgets and gizmos were on display here, many run with Apple’s free HomeKit app.   Cont'd...

Apple Stepping Up Plans for Amazon Echo-Style Smart-Home Device

Mark Gurman & Ian King for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. is pressing ahead with the development of an Echo-like smart-home device based on the Siri voice assistant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Started more than two years ago, the project has exited the research and development lab and is now in prototype testing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced Apple projects. Like Amazon Inc.’s Echo, the device is designed to control appliances, locks, lights and curtains via voice activation, the people said. Apple hasn’t finalized plans for the device and could still scrap the project.

If a product reaches the market, it would be Apple’s most significant piece of new hardware since the company announced the Apple Watch in 2014.  Cont'd...

The Apple Home arrives next week but it won't change the smart home market as we know it

BI Intelligence:  At its September event, Apple announced a new iPhone 7, equipped with faster processing, a better camera, and added features.

Additionally, the tech giant announced that iOS 10, the next version of its iPhone operating system, will be available for download on September 13. This means Apple Home will become a native app available on compatible iPhones with iOS 10 onSeptember 13.

The Home app, which manages compatible devices, is the final and central part of the Apple smart home ecosystem. The app is built off the Apple HomeKit developer framework, which was released in 2014, and it aims to conquer technological fragmentation within the smart home ecosystem.

When testing the new system, BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, found that many of the devices were simple plug-and-play devices.  Cont'd...

Control4: Apple Home App will help Home Automation Industry

Rob Stott for Dealerscope:  Not to say that the Home app is a killer to companies/platforms like Control4 and Crestron, but Apple is clearly encroaching on their space.

That said, the aforementioned companies don’t necessarily see this as a problem. Rather, as Paul Williams, Control4’s VP of Solutions, put it, it’s more of an opportunity.

“We would put this in the category of something that we think helps the smart home automation market,” Williams recently told Technology Integrator. “much like when, in the rise of the Internet of Things and IoT, what it’s really done has opened up consumers’ eyes to the possibilities. We’ve said, long before IoT came around, the biggest hurdle that we have in this space for us and other manufactures that specialize in home automation is customer awareness. Customers don’t even realize that this technology is available, that they can even do these kind of things, that there’s these sophisticated but simple-to-install and simple-to-use home automation systems that allow them to have great experiences in their homes.”  Full article:

Opinion Article: Apple HomeKit: More Home Automation Waste

John C. Dvorak, Opinion Article for PCMag:  Home automation has been on the back burner for decades, and is something Icomplain about at least once a year. It was in the news again after Apple's WWDC this week, when observers looking to squeeze some news out of the long keynote seized on news about HomeKit.  This led me to the HomeKit homepage, which finally answered all my "what is it good for?" questions. Absolutely nothing!

Let's amuse ourselves with Apple's assertions. First, we are told to be on the lookout for the HomeKit seal of approval logo (above) for any sort of device we want to use within a HomeKit microcosm.

This ensures interoperability and security. Apple is using all sorts of proprietary protocols for these devices to protect users against house hacks that I've described in the past, where devices are controlled by smirking jokers on the net.  Cont'd...

Why Apple wants to be the smart home's nerve center

Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch:  On Monday, Apple announced that it would make an app called Home available to users soon, allowing them to connect and control all of their HomeKit-enabled smart home devices from their iPads, iPhones or even Watches.

Per an earlier TechCrunch report live from the event, the Home app will let users control a Fantasia-like orchestra of smart gadgets from one place, including everything from smart doorbells and locks, to thermostats, light bulbs, humidifiers and entertainment systems.

And the app will let users engage Siri to tweak the settings on those devices, of course.

But why is Apple intent on becoming a universal remote, or a nerve center, for the smart home?

Frankly, consumers are not yet buying IoT devices and services with the fervor hoped for by consumer electronics and appliance brands.  Cont'd...

CES 16 - Kwikset Adds Apple HomeKit Compatible Device to Smart Lock Portfolio

Kwikset®, a leading manufacturer of smart locks, today announced Premis, its first Apple HomeKit™-compatible smart door lock.

Home Automation Protocols: What Technology is Right for You?

From ElectronicHouse:  There are a wide variety of technology platforms, or protocols, on which a smart home can be built. Each one is, essentially, its own language. Each language speaks to the various connected devices and instructs them to perform a function.

Choosing a smart home protocol can be tricky business. Obviously, you want one that will support a large number of devices, as well as one that offers the best possible device interoperability (the ability for devices to talk to each other). But there are also other factors to consider, such as power consumption, bandwidth and, of course, cost.

Following is an overview of some of the most popular home technology platforms on the market. While not intended to be the “be-all, end-all” treatise on which protocol is best for your smart home project, it’s a great place to start.  Cont'd...

Apple Said to Suspend Effort to Develop Live TV Service

From Bloomberg Business:  Apple Inc. has suspended plans to offer a live Internet-based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

While Apple isn’t giving up entirely on releasing a live-TV service, its plan to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 to $40 a month has run into resistance from media companies that want more money for their programming, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing a prospective product.

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said at a conference earlier Tuesday that Apple had put its live TV plans “on hold.”

The struggle highlights the difficulty new entrants face in trying to persuade media companies to overhaul the conventional pay-TV bundle, which costs about $85 a month. To break the logjam, Apple would either have to charge more, or the media companies would have to accept less.  Cont'd...

Apple TV review: Big steps forward, but not a revolution

Susie Ochs for MacWorld:  Apple finally updated its Apple TV set-top box, which had remained virtually unchanged for years, since going 1080p in 2012. The new version is faster, easier to use, and less frustrating, at least most of the time. What it isn’t is a revolution—everything Apple added already existed in its competitors.

An App Store and a microphone-equipped remote for voice search are both excellent features to have, and they bring the Apple TV closer to the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. But Apple still has a ways to go. The Remote app for iOS doesn’t work with this new model, for example, so we’re back to entering passwords one letter at a time by clicking with the remote—that’s actually a step backward from where we were. You still can’t enter your cable-provider credentials in one place and see a list of all the network apps you could log into. Without categories in the App Store, you can’t even find a list of all the games.  Cont'd...

Apple Reveals Future 'Home Automation Hub' for Apple TV in 'Siri Remote' Trademark Filing

When launching the reinvented Apple TV device last week Apple noted that the all-new Apple TV was built from the ground up with a new generation of high-performance hardware and introduced an intuitive and fun user interface using the 'Siri Remote™.' Well, the trademark symbol presented beside 'Remote™' may be a little premature as Apple just filed for this trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Although the filing was made public today, the actual date is noted as being September 9, 2015, the day that the Siri Remote was officially launched during Apple's Hey Siri San Francisco event. One more thing: Apple hints in their trademark filing that Apple TV will become the hub for home automation as we predicted back in 2014.
Apple's idea of a home automation system may have humbly started with an Apple patent application filed back in January 2010 regarding a smart-home energy management dashboard system. Then came word that Apple was about to introduce a new smart home platform during their 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). That became reality with the introduction of Apple's new HomeKit that revealed "Siri Integration" as noted as the last point of the slide presented below from WWDC 2014.
In a Patently Apple special report covering Apple's WWDC event specifically on HomeKit, the following was stated: …it's very possible that Apple could be thinking of integrating their new Home App right into Apple TV and finally bringing to market a true in-home digital hub that we've been waiting for. Is it a pipedream? Only time will tell.  Cont'd...
 

Apple Said to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 as Negotiations Stall

By  Peter Burrows, Lucas Shaw and Gerry Smith for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. customers waiting for the company to revolutionize live television as it did for music and phone service will have to keep waiting, at least until next year.

The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple’s plans. Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The Cupertino, California-based company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, said the people, but customers -- for now, at least -- will need a cable or satellite TV subscription or an antenna to watch live network television.  Cont'd...

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