Or why the partners are making the homekit ecosystem more painful than it needs to be.
Apple Changes Things, I get it
Apple homekit was first announced back in 2014. Three years later, we’re just starting to see products hit the market that start to show the promise of this ecosystem. Unfortunately, Apple stumbled a bit along the way, changing the accessory certification requirements a couple of times along the way.
First let me say that I’ve been following this for awhile and I absolutely support Apples right to make changes to their certification process. That being said, I also completely empathize for Homekit ecosystem partners who announce “support through a future firmware upgrade” and then are forced to break their promise due to Apple’s changes.
This blog isn’t about those partners. This blog is about the partners who announced support and continue to act like they are going to deliver.
If you can’t do it, just say so
Marketing is a necessary evil. If you are trying to get people to part with their money, you need to help them understand why they should be choosing your products, solution, or ecosystem over your competitors. In the case of something like HomeKit, Apple has had to stretch this a bit by allowing partners to “announce” their intent to support and have them included on the Apple Homekit accessories page long before they actually deliver.
You can check out the Apple Homekit Accessories page here. (Note: this is the Canadian page, your page may vary. )
I counted 37 different accessories on this page that are listed as “Announced” or “Coming Soon”. In fact the entire Garage Door category is full of products that don’t actually support HomeKit yet! THE ENTIRE CATEGORY!
From what I can tell, there is absolutely no guarantee that any of these devices will ever get HomeKit support. There are multiple vendors who have announced homekit support including (but I’m SURE not limited to!)
- Withins Camera (now Nokia)
- Soma Blinds
All of these vendors have announced publically that they are going to support the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, and yet they are not included on the Apple accessories page. Some of these vendors have done this aggressively, even announcing HomeKit support on their website. Except for one thing, notice the missing HomeKit logo?
The logos’ not there. Soma’s not listed on the Apple Accessories webpage, even under the “announced” or “coming soon” category. So as far as I can tell, they are not HomeKit certified, but are promoting themselves on their webpage as if they are.
Let’s be Clear
I’m not suggesting that Soma, or Ring, or any other vendor out there who’s claiming “upcoming HomeKit support” is doing this maliciously just to get peoples hard-earned cash. I’m sure they are great people. In fact, Ring actually reached out to me on twitter to reassure me that their Developers are still working hard to deliver the HomeKit support for my Ring Pro which was first promised in 2016. These companies are trying to do the right thing I’m sure. But…. I’m getting really tired of having to wait on HomeKit support that was promised, in some cases, more than a year ago. In the case of Ring, I honestly don’t expect their homekit-firmware to be released until sometime in 2018. I believe they will get there, but 24 months is a pretty long time in modern IoT product cycles.
Marketing too far
It’s a tough market out there. I get that companies need to have a competitive advantage and tiying themselves to a major eco-system like Apple HomeKit ( or Amazon Alexa, or GoogleHome or Samsung SmartThings ) can be just the thing they need to make their product look just a little skinnier. But I would much prefer it if these same companies would be very clear on WHEN their HomeKit support will be coming. What release? What timeframe? How long am I going to have to wait for you to deliver on the promises you made to me, your customer, that caused me to select your product above that of your competitor.
For those getting into the SmartHome game, especially if you’re looking at the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, the best advice I can give you is: Look for the logo.
If you don’t see the Apple Homekit logo on the box, don’t throw your money away. Or at the very least, don’t let that factor into your decision. I’m a Ring Pro doorbell owner, and to be honest: I’m really happy with it. Or I would be if I didn’t have the constant reminder that it MIGHT support HomeKit at some unnamed point in the future. I would much rather be pleasantly surprised when they suddenly give me a new feature that I never knew was coming, rather than continuing to wait on the them to deliver a critical feature that affected my buying decision.