WWDC: Apple confirms that Apple TV will be your smarthome hub

Apple has published a guide to setting up and using HomeKit-enabled accessories with iOS devices

Apple Apple TV iOS connected smart home HomeKit

Switching on

WWDC looms next week and we’re hitting the time of the season when Apple begins to refine what it intends discussing during its Monday keynote by letting slip a few smaller news items, including (it seems) Apple TV in its new incarnation as the hub of your digital home. (With the added promise of being both private and secure, unlike other offerings.)

Apple has published a new guide to setting up and using any HomeKit-enabled accessories with iOS devices, confirming the existence of a “Works with Apple HomeKit” kite mark as it does. “With HomeKit, you can use your iOS device to control any of the "Works with Apple HomeKit" accessories that you have in your home, like lights, locks, thermostats, smart plugs, and more,” the company says.

The pages confirm that you’ll be able to use Siri to control the connected devices around your home, and that will be able to use an Apple TV (third generation or later) running OS 7 or later to “control your HomeKit-enabled accessories when you're away from home using your iOS device.”

Also read: 9 new Apple technologies for WWDC 2015

HomeKit support has been present in the Apple TV firmware since v7.0, though Apple hasn't discussed it.

Apple ID for everything

In effect, this means smart home owners will be able to log in with the same Apple ID on an iOS device and Apple TV and use Siri commands to remotely control lights, locks, thermostats, smart plugs and other HomeKit-enabled accessories. (I also imagine it won't be long until you can use your Apple Watch to control any smart home, so long as you are an approved user and the Apple TV hub recognizes your authority).

This also means if you haven’t taken time to create a robust Apple ID password, now’s a good time to do so.

Apple has also published a list of HomeKit compatible accessories that you can read,  along with this extensive list of smart home gadgets. These include solutions from Lutron, iHome, Elgato, Insteon and Ecobee; many more are expected to appear after WWDC next week.

You will also be able to control your smart home when you’re not at home using your iOS devices and Apple TV. That’s pretty cool to make your home seem lived in while you’re away on a long trip.

Take aways

There are two key things to note there:

The first is that owners of existing Apple TV units (including those discounted models Apple’s been selling this year) won’t need to upgrade to get these features. Introduced in early 2012 these models carry the model number A1427 or A1469 on the bottom of the unit. The similar in appearance, 2010 Apple TV (A1378) is not listed as being HomeKit compatible.

The other nugget is that Apple seems even more likely to introduce a fourth edition Apple TV, which is completely in line with all expectations.

The path to HomeKit has clearly been a little complex. “Depending on the app you use for your HomeKit-enabled accessories, you might be able to group accessories together in homes, rooms, or scenes,” Apple says.

That’s useful, but the way it is put suggests that some devices won’t be as easy to control, likely due to limitations in the original standards used.

Apple TV as hub

We are expecting Apple to go into more detail in the use of Apple TV as a HomeKit hub at WWDC next week, where we expect new hardware, Siri improvements and – potentially -- App Store for Apple TV.

Along with iTunes music streaming the latter was expected to offer a combination of different content, including TV shows/channels, but recent claims suggest the focus on that last element may be reduced as the company has had problems sourcing deals.

Additional news will include insights into iOS 9, OS X and the release of an Apple Watch SDK developers can use to build apps that work independently of the iPhone.

We will be working hard to keep you informed of Apple’s announcements at WWDC next week, check back for the link to the live blog and do take a look at this slideshow presentation of Apple's 12 most important WWDC announcements ever made. Meanwhile please read:

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