Considering it took over two hours, it was surprising there were no HomeKit announcements at Apple’s Sept. 9 event. HomeKit is Apple’s framework for connecting smart-home accessories — think lights, locks, thermostats, and so on. With today’s iOS 9 update, the system now works remotely — no Apple TV needed, thanks to iCloud. This means you can control all the compatible devices, which will balloon beyond the initial offerings this fall, when you’re not actually home.
With iOS 9, Apple says HomeKit is easier to set up accessories. You scan its setup code to pair it with your iPhone, and it will bring up some detailed information about the device.
There are four preset scenes developers can work with: getting up, leaving home, returning home, and going to bed. But if you want to set up something that dims the lights and closes the blinds but leaves the thermostat alone, you can do so in “custom scenes” (which already existed but has a new name) and call it “watching a movie” (or whatever you’re setting the mood for). And this is all controllable through Siri, so you can use your voice to initiate these commands.
To make HomeKit more automated, built-in triggers based on your location, the time of day, or another device’s event can initiate a scene. That means you could sync your “returning home” mode to your location.
The list of new profiles supported in iOS 9 includes shades, blinds, awnings, motorized doors and windows, home security systems, sensors (air quality, carbon monoxide, smoke, humidity, water leak, and motion), and programmable switches.
iDevices announced three HomeKit-enabled products — iDevices Switch, iDevices Outdoor Switch, and iDevices Thermostat — will be on sale at Lowe’s starting Sept. 28. That’s likely just the start of newly compatible accessories we’ll see this fall.