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Apple's HomeKit Getting Smarter

6/20/2016 08:00:00 AM Eastern

Apple used WWDC smarten up its HomeKit home-automation platform, adding control of Wi-Fi security cameras, doorbells, air conditioners and air purifiers while unveiling an Apple-designed Home app that unifies control of multiple brands of HomeKit-certified products.

Currently, consumers with multiple brands of HomeKit-certified products have to use different apps supplied by different device brands to control all of their certified products or opt for a third-party unified HomeKit app.

Separately, Apple also announced that major home builders later this year will begin offering HomeKit devices in new homes. The builders include Brookfield Residential, KB Home, Lennar Homes and R&F Properties.

In unveiling its Home app plans, Apple said the app will be deeply integrated into iOS 10, due in the fall. Consumers will be able to see all their Home Kit accessories in one app, which will also be accessible quickly through the OS’s control center.

HomeKit accessories can be controlled individually or grouped into scenes to work together with a single touch command or a Siri command. They can also be controlled remotely via touchscreen or Siri. The products also can respond to automatic triggers set by time of day, location or action.

Almost 100 home automation products will have adopted HomeKit this year, including thermostats, lights, window shades, door locks, video cameras and other devices, the company said.

The Home app, said IDC analyst Tom Mainelli, “was a long time coming and looks promising.”

Candid cameras: With the announcement that Apple’s iOS 10 will add support for HomeKit-certified security cameras, two companies – August Home and Ring – announced plans for Home Kit-enabled cameras later this year.

August’s $199 Doorbell Cam is already equipped with Apple’s HomeKit-compatible MFI chip, so August will upgrade currently installed Doorbell Cams via a free, automatic software update in the fall after Apple’s finalizes the camera profile and the product is certified, August said

For its part, Ring said it will bring HomeKit support later this year to its $249 Ring Video Doorbell Pro doorbell/ camera via a software upgrade. The company also offers the $199 Ring Video Doorbell.

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