Apple has managed to build an empire by being secretive, but it looks as though the times are finally changing. At this year’s WWDC, Apple began pulling back the veil — at least, around HomeKit. First introduced three years ago in the 2014 installation of the company’s famous Worldwide Developers Conference, HomeKit has historically been a decidedly closed system. Developers interested in working with the software had to integrate a dedicated authentication chip into a device, then undergo plenty of certification testing through the MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”) program. But that was so three years ago.
Now, any Apple developer with interest can start playing around with HomeKit. No longer will you have to integrate an authentication chip into your prototype. Rather, the whole authorization process can be done through software. And while there won’t be a chip anymore, Apple still promises that all the heavy-duty encryption will still be present.
You also won’t have to get an MFi license anymore to control prototypes of your connected devices. And these prototypes can even be developed atop cheap, easy-to-find hardware like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. That means that there will be a lot more experimentation in the coming months, and hopefully, a lot more innovation.
But don’t get too excited too quickly. If you want to actually bring an Apple smart home device to market for real, you’ll still have to go through MFi certification. And all things considered, it’s still a lot easier for tinkerers to develop new products with Amazon or Google, as integration with those two companies’ products happens largely in the cloud. But then again, Apple has much stronger encryption, which means much more secure devices.
So pick your poison, friends. But either way, you ought to have plenty of fun creating new smart home gadgetry this year.