Apple Frees Up Its Smart Home Platform To Kickstart Development

Aaron Tilley for Forbes:  At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014, Apple dipped its toes into the nascent smart home market with the launch of HomeKit, a developer program for hooking up smart devices in iOS. It was Apple's typical closed-garden approach: developers had to integrate a dedicated authentication chip into their device and go through extensive certification testing through the MFi ("Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad") program.

Now, Apple is opening up the doors a bit.

At a Wednesday morning developer session at this year's WWDC, Apple said that HomeKit is now open to any Apple developer to tinker around with. Developers no longer have to get an MFi license to start controlling prototypes of smart home gadgets. They can even develop prototypes on top of popular developer boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. But once these developers want to bring a product out commercially, they still have to go through MFi certification. Nevertheless, this should make it easier for developers to start building HomeKit products.

More importantly, Apple also updated the HomeKit specification so that developers no longer have to go through the trouble of integrating an authentication chip into their products. Instead, all the authorization can go through software now. Any existing product or future product can do this software authorization. The devices just need a firmware update. Apple said it would still have all the same heavy-duty encryption running on it. (Of course, companies who have already gone through the process of integrating the authentication chip onto their device might be a little annoyed with this update.)  Full Article:

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