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Apple HomeKit devices are suddenly booming

Apple HomeKit devices are suddenly booming


LIFX is the latest to add HomeKit by software update

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These LIFX lights are just the latest to go HomeKit
These LIFX lights are just the latest to go HomeKit
Image: LIFX

LIFX just announced HomeKit compatibility for its Wi-Fi smart lighting devices. Not just for new LIFX and LIFX+ lighting that you can buy from today on, but for existing LIFX products already in homes. It’s a trick that comes courtesy of a software update available now that makes existing LIFX products compatible with Apple's smart-home platform. But LIFX is just the latest in a series of companies to have made older products HomeKit compatible, thanks largely to Apple loosening the restrictions it had placed on its HomeKit partners. 

In June, Apple announced software-based authentication for HomeKit. Prior to that, it required hardware-based authentication whereby every company making HomeKit products had to include an Apple-approved authentication chip. That chip proved to be a costly and time-consuming pain in the ass for consumers and manufacturers like Philips, that had to develop a new Hue hub which owners had to then buy (even though they already owned a hub) in order to make their existing Hue lights HomeKit compatible. Not anymore. 

Just before Apple lifted the hardware-authentication restriction in June, Apple listed 126 HomeKit compatible product lines of which 25 were listed as "announced," while 12 others were listed as "coming soon." That's 126 confirmed product lines in the three years since HomeKit was announced; a number that jumped to 139 in just the last three months, of which 24 are listed as "announced" and 21 are "coming soon."

Perhaps the biggest boost came from Ikea

Perhaps the biggest boost came from Ikea when it announced in August that its entire Trådfri range of smart lights, switches, and sensors will become HomeKit compatible via a software update in the Fall. Three weeks ago, Netatmo announced that a HomeKit firmware update for its Presence and Welcome security cameras would be available before the end of the year. And then two weeks ago, Logitech announced immediate availability of a HomeKit software update for its Circle 2 camera. These aren’t new devices made for HomeKit, mind you, but existing products already in people’s homes that can now (or soon) be updated with software to make them HomeKit compatible. The list of brand new HomeKit products announced over the last few weeks includes a new lock and doorbell from August, new Hue lights, a couple of new smart locks, and a bunch of products from Elgato. It’s been a good month, with more to come in the run-up to the holidays.

The HomeKit ecosystem had been plagued by lethargy due to the sometimes onerous restrictions Apple placed on manufacturers. Many of those were lifted or streamlined this summer, causing the person behind the notorious Internet of Shit Twitter account to admit they were wrong about HomeKit, saying it “now has far more potential in the long run than any of its competitors.” Potential that’s transforming into the reality of a suddenly booming HomeKit ecosystem.