It has been over one year since Apple officially announced HomeKit, the company’s focus on the future smart home, but the rollout of devices has been slow, to put it lightly.
As it stands right now, there are only a handful of HomeKit-based devices available to purchase, from sensors to other accessories. Why accessories have been slow to find their way to market has been revealed, finally, in a report recently published by Forbes. According to that information, it would appear that Apple’s strict Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) security requirements are what is causing the holdup.
In the report, devices like locks are apparently flagged with a noticeable amount of lag before actually unlocking the door. In some instances, the wait can be up to 40 seconds, which is obviously less-than-stellar when compared to, say, a standard door lock which only takes seconds. According to an unnamed source, their locking mechanism would actually lag for about 7 minutes before finally unlocking. Obviously, that type of situation is not ideal.
“Such lag times render many of these devices useless. For example, a smartlock that makes its user wait 40 seconds before it opens is clearly inferior to a traditional lock. One of HomeKit’s selling point is that it provides a more reliable user experience, so these kinds of lag times will need to be sorted out before Apple can become a major platform for the smart home.“
According to the report, both Broadcom and Marvell are enhancing their Bluetooth LE chips to better handle Apple’s high-standard of security, so it’s likely that, at some point in the future, these devices will get better out of the box. Until then, though, companies are forced to utilize workarounds to make their devices actually worth using:
“For the time being, Elgato has found a workaround for these problems with Bluetooth LE. It’s tweaked the firmware and added additional on-chip memory to handle the heavy-duty encryption. Elgato was not anticipating having to go make these modifications initially, and now the company hopes to make a side business selling its tweaks to other device makers wanting to build HomeKit devices with Bluetooth LE.“
Other reasons for the delay in HomeKit-enabled accessories are listed, including Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) program, which all of these devices has to go through before getting the appropriate certification.
Is HomeKit something you’re excited about?