Apple’s open source Swift will open the HomeKit door

Something is brewing in Cupertino

Apple, iOS, HomeKit, Siri, Internet of Things, M2M

Apple’s decision to make Swift open source has the potential to intensify development of powerful new HomeKit solutions.

Swift everywhere

We know Apple wants to make Swift available to its CloudKit teams, blogger Lou Miranda said as much, “Think about Swift on CloudKit, Linux, app scripting, and maybe even client-side web,” he wrote.

Apple’s OS X chief, Craig Federighi told, Daring Fireball’s Talk Show this week:

“Our own iCloud team has been completely champing at the bit to be able to apply it in many, many of the things they do. So, I think it’s going to be one of the first break-out uses of Swift. And … so many mobile applications … are part mobile app, part server code. And … very often you want to share parts of code, parts of your model layer, some of your utility libraries.”

So if you want a powerful, open-source, platform-compatible development solution capable of running applications both on the device and in the cloud, Swift will become a compelling choice. Particularly since IBM is already deep into Swift, using it in conjunction with its own enterprise and – perhaps even more significant -- big data developments.

Think how a Swift-powered, iOS-based connected smart meter system might work in conjunction with IBM’s big data analytics? Think how effective such systems would be if protected by end-to-end encryption and remotely updated.

It’s a huge market. IDC predicts worldwide spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow at a 17.0 percent CAGR from $698.6 billion in 2015 to nearly $1.3 trillion in 2019.

Connected everything

It seems clear to me that an open source, Apple-compatible development environment developers already love to use will have a part to play in the evolution of the Internet of things. Any connected device is basically an iPhone, right? Apple’s can scale the capabilities of its OS for products between your wrist and your desktop. Do you really think the Apple Car will be the summit of this company’s ambition? Don’t be silly. Apple Everywhere has always been the plan.

“So whether you’re scripting your build system or writing web services -- and of course writing your mobile applications -- we want to make sure that you can invest in Swift in that way and know that it’s going to be available to you everywhere,” said Craig Federighi.

I anticipate we’ll see swarms of cloud/device Swift-based hybrid IoT devices from all kinds of makers appear in future. These won’t be confined to consumer devices, but will span the entire connected ecosystem, given Apple’s growing status in enterprise IT. Some (not all) of these will support HomeKit.

Et tu, Siri?

HomeKit means Siri. Siri partner, Nuance, recently introduced a new set of software development tools that will enable IoT device manufacturers to put speech recognition and natural language processing inside connected devices. Why would Apple ignore this in HomeKit?

Add Swift, Siri, and HomeKit and you have some interesting potentials for Apple’s future in the space. (Limited by Apple’s challenge of providing effective remote device monitoring due to end-to-end encryption in HomeKit) and there has to be some exciting potential.

I imagine things like this:

“You wake up at 7am and head to the shower, which switches on at your perfect temperature as room sensors recognize your approach. You get ready, grab your watch and walk to your car, which opens to your thumbprint. Sitting down to read your iPad newspaper while the car whisks you off to work, you remember you forgot to set the timer on the security system. “Hey Siri,” you say, “Switch on the home security system,” and Siri will be able to do just that using a combination of your in-car biometrics and voice pattern to confirm you had the right to ask it too.”

I look forward to the much better stories using these technologies Apple and its developers will put together for us in the coming months.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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