Apple announced new updates to its HomeKit smart home platform at WWDC 2021, helping to diversify the ecosystem and operating system for all of its home-focused devices. This means the HomePod mini will have many more integrations with other HomeKit-compatible devices. The launch of Homekit’s latest update will come with the release of iOS 15, to expand the Siri-powered smart home beyond its current limits.
HomeKit has always lagged behind Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in terms of compatibility and utility, relegated mostly to an audience of Apple enthusiasts. The announcement of HomeKit’s expanded functionality means Apple is moving to improve its standing within the smart home market, including Siri’s integration with third-party devices later this year — something that will help to grow Apple’s presence in the smart home space in a significant way. There’s even going to be more integration of the Home app with the upcoming release of WatchOS 8 with the Apple Watch.
The first of the many updates is iCloud Plus, a service that provides improved storage for all of your connected devices, but most importantly, it includes unlimited storage for HomeKit-enabled cameras. Before this update, users needed to pay for at least 200GB of cloud storage to record video from a single camera, but the introduction of iCloud Plus makes it significantly easier to store footage and connect multiple cameras.
The Apple HomeKeys feature allows you to lock and unlock your door with a tap of your phone or your Apple Watch. This feature means anyone with a HomeKit-compatible smart lock can easily access their home without fumbling to enter a passcode or shouting through the door for Siri.
Another feature is SharePlay on Apple TV. While this past year has kept many people apart, SharePlay allows you to sit down and watch your favorite shows with friends at the same time. As an added bonus, you can ask Siri to start the latest episode of your most recent binge.
If you’re looking for better audio quality, the HomePod Mini will be able to play sounds from your favorite shows and movies to create a surround-sound-like experience. HomePod Mini will also have voice recognition for individual family members by the end of the year.
Apple has also taken a page out of Amazon’s playbook and has allowed other manufacturers to include Siri on their devices. HomeKit accessories will have the option to allow users to access Siri directly on the device instead of through an iPhone or HomePod.
Building on this trend of accessibility, the Apple Watch now has better integration with the Home App and will allow you to view your doorbell directly from your wrist. You can also view the doorbell — as well as multiple cameras — on your Apple TV, and easily access nearby smart devices all at the same time.
The Apple Watch will also be able to broadcast messages, access other accessories, and much more.
All of these changes leave HomeKit poised to become a much more popular smart home platform than it has been before.
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