If there’s one thing that’s been holding Apple’s Siri and HomeKit environment back, it’s the relatively small number of devices that the voice assistant runs on, compared to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Which is why our best smart speaker guide is dominated by rival products.
With third-party Siri support incoming, that changes with Apple making its voice assistant available on a wider range of devices.
Announced during its WWDC keynote, Apple said that third-party support for Siri was coming later this year, with developers able to integrate the voice assistant straight into their products.
The example was an Ecobee smart thermostat with integrated Siri, rather than a HomePod rival smart speaker that you might expect. It’s potentially a powerful move, putting voice smarts directly into devices, rather than relying purely on smart speakers dotted around your home.
For security, all third-party Siri commands are routed through a HomePod or HomePod Mini on your local network.
Although third-party Siri support was the biggest announcement, Apple also announced a slew of new HomeKit features. Below we break down the ones you should care about.
Parcel detection in HomeKit Secure Video
Apple continues to improve the quality of its HomeKit Secure Video cloud storage platform. This year it introduces package detection, which will alert you when someone is delivering a parcel to your home. This feature has been available on other cameras, such as the Arlo Pro 3, for a while, but it’s nice to see it land here.
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Smart locks, such as the excellent Yale Linus, are on the rise, but they can be fiddly to unlock. With Home Keys, HomeKit users on an iPhone or Apple Watch will be able to unlock their doors with a tap.
Apple Watch updates
Talking of the Apple Watch, updates to its Home app will let you use Intercom to send messages to other users and smart speakers, and it will smartly display the devices you’re most likely to interact with, too.
Matter, the smart home protocol that Apple, Amazon and Google all support in an effort to make smart devices play nicely together, is coming to iOS 15. With the new version of the Home app, users will be able to control HomeKit and Matter devices all from one place. Expect to see wider support for devices straight from the Home app.
Every smart home platform is slightly marred by a lack of support: devices that work with one system aren’t available on another. It’s frustrating and makes it very difficult for the average person to make their smart home work nicely together.
Today, Apple’s has introduced two new ways to improve the situations. First, with iOS 15, Apple will support Matter. A new smart home protocol that’s designed to make smart devices talk together nicely, it’s also supported by Amazon and Google. Matter support should dramatically increase the number of devices that you can control via the Home app (or via another system entirely if you decide).
Secondly, Apple opening up Siri for third-party use will see the voice assistant escape Apple-only devices. It will mean more choice when it comes to which voice assistant you want to use in your home.