It’s that time when all eyes are on Apple during its Worldwide Developers conference or WWDC for short. This is where the company shows off its latest updates to its device software that will come later in the year. This year for HomeKit we get several updates to HomeKit Secure Video, Siri added to third party devices and improvements to tvOS and HomePod mini.
So continue reading to find out all the details from WWDC 2021 and HomeKit and some of the smaller details I have discovered in the first beta’s of iOS15, iPadOS 15 and tvOS 15.
HomeKit Secure Video goes unlimited
With the introduction of iCloud +, which will bring Private Relay and private email. HomeKit Secure Video also gets a bump in the number of cameras supported. At present, the minimum iCloud account is the 200GB plan which supports one camera and 2TB plan allowing up to 5 cameras with HSV.
With iCloud +, the 50GB plan now allows access for 1 HSV camera, the 200GB plan offering 5 HSV cameras, and the 2TB plan offering unlimited HSV cameras. The 2TB plan update will be welcome news for those of us with lots of HSV enabled cameras in the home. Plus all for the same price as before, which is great!
Additionally HomeKit cameras and Video Doorbells that support HomeKit Secure Video will also get an upgrade. When Apple introduced HSV, this feature included the ability to detect people, pet, and vehicle. Now Apple is introducing parcel detection which will alert users in the home when a parcel has been detected. This is a feature that will be great for those Amazon delivers when you are not home.
HomeKit locks with Apple key
HomeKit smart locks is also getting some love this yes with the possibility to add a key with your Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch. This update follows on from the same update for the digital car keys that will make use of the U1 chip.
This feature will allow a user to approach a door in a HomeKit enabled home and swipe to unlock. This is something I talked about in a video about Ultra-Wide band and how technology can improve HomeKit automations. A variety of manufacturers have signed onto this initiative, including one of my favourites Aqara.
Apple TV for HomeKit
Updates to tvOS means you can ask Siri on your HomePod mini to play something on your Apple TV. This will be great for movie nights with the family or when you want to access content quickly. Apple TV will also get SharePlay and Shared with You, so you can easily watch the things that friends and family have shared with you or. But if if you want, you can watch it all together.
The Apple TV home screen now has a new row called For All of You. The row features content that is recommended and appropriate for the entire family. You can customise who is waiting to watch with you and Apple TV will recommend based on those preferences.
HomeKit also gets improvements via Apple TV as well. You will also get the option to see multiple camera feeds on one screen. Additionally, users get the ability to control accessories for which that room directly directly on the Apple TV. I have been playing with this and works well for things like smart locks.
Apple has also added notifications that pop up on the Apple TV for when accessories are controlled or activated. This currently works with when locks are locked and unlocked. But I am hoping Apple expands this to motion detection via HomeKit enabled cameras.
HomePod mini updates
With the OG HomePod getting discontinued earlier this year. The HomePod mini gets in on the stereo pairing action with Apple TV. When you’re watching content on your Apple TV 4K, you’ll now be able to use two HomePod minis as your stereo speaker setup.
The HomePod mini will also get support for Lossless Audio in more countries like Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand later this month. Italy will also get support but not until the end of the year.
Siri on Third-party devices
Later this year Apple will open up Siri functionality to select third-party manufacturers to build Siri into their devices. This will enable devices like the Ecobee 4 Thermostat to listen and respond using Siri. This step will open up the possibility to have Siri in more rooms than ever.
Although this will still require a HomePod or HomePod Mini in the home, as Siri within these devices is merely a relay. Apple said this was to ensure privacy was maintained.
Apple Watch and HomeKit
The HomeKit app on your watch is getting a redesign with additional features including the ability to “control relevant accessories depending on that moment,” Which suggests to me that Apple may use U1 in the Apple Watch and HomePod mini to detect your location. But this is just a guess at this stage and they will reveal more as we move forward with the beta’s.
You can also use it to talk to the person at your the door directly on your wrist if you have a HomeKit video doorbell. Plus users can use the HomePod feature Intercom that lets you broadcast a message throughout the home.
Matter and HomeKit
As expected Matter, the connectivity standard got a brief mention at Apple’s WWDC event. The unifying protocol known as Matter, formerly The CHIP project will allow both HomeKit and Matter certified devices to be controlled in the Home app.
As Apple didn’t go into much detail on the key differences between a Matter device and a works with HomeKit device. Then it’s a case of wait and see how this turns out and what benefit Matter will bring to HomeKit users.
No changes to the Home App, yet
While the Home App has stayed the same and no major changes, I can see in the Beta 1. I have noticed buried deep in settings that users have a “Resident” and “Owner” label next to the name. This could suggest that Apple is working on bringing user control or something like guest control to HomeKit.
Users have been calling for control over permissions and guest support since the very start of HomeKit. So hopefully as we move through the Beta’s. The relevance of this new “Resident” and owner label will become apparent.
HomeKit and the future
Although Apple didn’t go all out with what I expected in HomeKit this year, specially around U1 and ultra-wide band. This year has seen some improvements to HomeKit Secure Video, Apple TV and HomePod that users are sure to love. But the most interesting is what Apple didn’t say. The fact they are utilising U1 in smart locks and maybe the Apple Watch to determine location in the home. So this suggests that the groundwork is being laid for a more smart HomeKit for the future.