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New beta update allows Apple TV to function as a hub for HomeKit devices

In the not-so-distant future, that Apple TV you use to watch Netflix and play your iTunes music might also be the very same box you use to control all the connected devices in your home. According to a recent report from AppleInsider, Apple’s own notes for Apple TV Software beta 2 suggest that the pre-release build “includes support for Family Sharing and can be used for testing Airplay and HomeKit with your iOS apps.”

As you may or may not remember, the HomeKit API (first announced back in June during WWDC) is supposed to tie together a number of compatible smart home products, such as lights, locks, plugs, and more. With this new software update and newly-added HomeKit support, Apple TV will be able to act as hub/command center for all the third-party connected hardware devices that will soon be hitting the market. Speaking with an iOS developer on Apple’s internal development forums, AppleInsider sheds some light on how the system works:

Apple TV Generations

“Logging into iCloud on an Apple TV will register the set-top box as a potential remote access peer for the HomeKit application programming interface. Once the user accepts using their Apple TV as a remote access peer, information from their connected home will automatically be synced with the TV accessory. This is made possible because HomeKit uses CloudKit to store home and accessory info in the cloud, while Keychain is used to store paired keys,” the unnamed developer said.

RelatedApple patent application points to new digital remote control system for Apple TV

Unfortunately you won’t be able to do all this nifty stuff with currently-available Apple TV hardware, but the fact that Apple is now officially including HomeKit support in the device’s software is still rather exciting. The next Apple TV hardware refresh could transform it from an unremarkable set-top streaming box into a full-on home control hub — perhaps even one that you can control with Siri.

For now though, we’ll just have to wait. Apple is expected to hold a media event on October 16 to unveil the new generation of iPads and iMacs, and while the new-and-improved Apple TV might also make an appearance, it’s been rumored that it may not get an update until early 2015. Stay tuned for updates.