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An early look at Siri and HomeKit


At Macworld/iWorld 2014, I made a presentation on the part that Siri could play in the home automation revolution. Some of the key points I made were that iOS 7 and Siri really couldn't do too much at the current time without assistance from third-party tools such as IFTTT, and that Apple would need to open up the Siri API to developers before much would improve. Well, the announcement of HomeKit in iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 went a long way toward making it possible for us to get to a Jetson's-type world where turning lights on and off, locking doors, and making your home more comfortable is just a voice command away.

The team at AppleInsider took a look at responses from Siri in iOS 8 beta 2, finding that Siri now responds to various home automation-related queries with responses that give a hint at how Apple's intelligent assistant will work with third-party devices. The article notes that "built-in HomeKit services include garage door openers, lights, door locks, thermostats, IP camera controls, switches, and more", providing control over the characteristics of those devices. What developers will need to do is create their own tools to control their accessories, but they'll be able to do so with links into Siri.

HomeKit provides not only control over characteristics of different accessories, but "knows" the location of those accessories as well. For example, asking Siri to check whether or not the front door is locked indicates that each accessory can be given a unique location identifier.

As with the existing SmartThings ecosystem, HomeKit can also provide control over multiple homes, say a main house and a cabin in the mountains. Asking Siri "Are the doors at the cabin locked?" could result in a quick scan of all of the door locks at that location and a response that "Yes, they are". At this point, since no smart home accessory manufacturers have publicly demonstrated their devices working with HomeKit, queries to Siri result in a plaintive reply:

That's why they call this a beta...

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