Apple, you’re losing the battle for the home

I’ve waited so long for home kit. Not even a resonable amount of time, a really long time. HomeKit is great and Apple’s approach to creating the most secure home products that all work well is without doubt the correct approach. With that said there are so many great devices out there now it’s just not feasible for me, and no doubt many others, to hold on any longer.

My home automation seal has been well and truly been broken with the purchase of two echo dots, a Philips hue starter kit and more Wemo smart plugs that I can shake a stick at. What’s more is they all work together with ease, the only thing that is missing is come kind of iPhone software to make it all easy….


Apple, youre losing the battle for the home

If you have used HomeKit on iOS 10 you will know the true advantage of having everything under one roof. The quick toggles in control centre and the overall app is something to be truly praised. There just is hardly anything available!

The HomeKit Way

Understandably, manufactures are put off by the cost of producing Home Kit devices. They have to include particular chips and networking options that are more expensive than others. There is also a bug to bear with the complex approval process, that can take up to 6 months for Apple to approve the devices. Leading to a drought of devices, that is particularly evident outside of the US.

I’m not entirely convinced that speaking to your home is the answer than most people will want, but it is a start and certainly much easier than worrying about opening an app all the time. Apple clearly already know this, due to their reliance on Siri to do anything on the new AirPods. This may choose to bite them going forward as it highlights once again the fact that Amazon and to an extent Google Home have Apple already beat hands down.

The Assistant

As every tech company imaginable scrambles to mention AI and machine learning in almost every press release, it is Apple that follow the crowd. Not to mention every manufacturer striving to have their own assistant make every feature of your life easier. From contextual awareness to control of your home, collecting data is the key. Yet Apple know the least about you.

Privacy and security definitely have their markets (which are actually growing) but Apple simply can’t make their mind up what they want to do with your data. Steve Jobs believed that whatever you signed up for should be clear and transparent, which is an honourable approach. But not one that rule’s out contextual awareness without surrounding it in complicated mathematics, Apple still refuse.

Apple, youre losing the battle for the home

If Samsung can pull off their Assistant, and they sure as hell have the know how and the user base, Apple are trailing almost last and may have a problem on their hands. Apple truly believe the best assistant is the one you have with you , unfortunately more people might start carrying something else because Apple and Siri are lacking.

Whereas Amazon have somewhat quietly kept improving their service and their product for a long time now. The ‘works with Alexa’ brand was everywhere at CES. From smart home devices that don’t have to jump through hoops, to phones that are building Alexa straight in – its boom time. A quick Amazon search tells the extent of the home products that work with Alexa – and they are rapidly growing.

Security

There is one concern and that is provides a sticking point with any works with Alexa devices, security. Not to say that all devices are unsecured, but these concerns are wide ranging ones. There is definitely an issue with the security of IoT devices, leading to the DDOS attacks that took down much of the internet in 2016. By far the most creepy is the fact that so called smart devices have been people homes for years and are often lacking even basic security .

Apples approach to insist on specific hardware and throughly test each device before they let it work with HomeKit is the best approach to take. There is no argument against this, yet you have to balance this against lack of product. Companies are unwilling to release specific version for HomeKit or build in specific requirements to lower profit margins. There is next to no devices available outside the US, and these are often 2-3 times the price.

Apple, youre losing the battle for the home

If Apple are already behind on the amount of devices that are available, and also the interface which will provide the most convenience. Why would users spend a considerable amount more

There ultimately needs to be a trade off between security and convince, not just in devices actually being available. Include into this the convince of a manufacturer to produce the device in the first place.

The ease at which the Home app works on iPhone is a clear advantage, providing your whole family use iOS devices. Unfortunately for most users security is just not enough to persuade those wanting to set up their home to spend more. So unless that compromise is found, fast, you’re going to loose the battle for the home.

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