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Apple HomeKit announced as smart home hub

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Apple has announced Apple HomeKit, its first foray into smart home automation that introduces a smart home standard.

It’s not quite Apple’s own smart home platform yet, but it aims to bring existing home automation apps under one umbrella platform.

Basically, you’ll be able to control existing smart home devices like the Philips Hue lighting system from the HomeKit app.

Compatible devices will be distinguished by a new Apple HomeKit certification program, which guarantees third-party devices work with Apple’s new smart home system.

“There are a lot of great home automation devices coming on the market these days and they have companion apps – things like lights and door locks, webcams, garage doors and thermostats,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering. “But each of them have their own applications and they end up defining their own network protocol, their own security mechanism.”

“So we thought we could bring some rationality to this space.”

With HomeKit, you can control individual devices or group them up to control simultaneously.

These groups can be controlled with Siri voice commands, making home automation a little simpler.

For example, Apple says you can tell Siri to “get ready for bed”, causing her to lock your doors and dim the lights ready for sleeping.

“[HomeKit has] a common network protocol that has secure pairing to ensure that only your iPhone can open your garage door or lock your doors”.

The HomeKit APIs are available for developers now, but the smart home system will no doubt arrive with the full iOS 8 in the autumn.

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