To use Arduino-based connected objects or an open source home server on iOS, you had to use the open source Homebridge project that was presented several times. On the occasion of the WWD 2017 (developer conference), Apple announced the opening of the HomeKit protocol which allows to communicate and control compatible home automation devices from the Home app on iOS.
Until now, the development of HomeKit compatible devices was reserved for MFI licensees. Each product had to be tested by Apple and embed a cryptographic chip its authentication. This procedure is still valid for commercial products. Apple has now opened the technical specifications for the HomeKit protocol for non-commercial projects.
This means that anyone can now use the Framework Home Kit to develop non-commercial Arduino based devices, ESP8266, Raspberry Pi or other development boards. Cryptographic chip authentication is replaced by software authentication.
The HomeBridge project is expected to rapidly gain in functionality and stability and will no longer infringe on Apple licenses.
This new license also applies to businesses. The development phase will be less constraining, the cryptographic chip being replaced by a software solution. Companies will be able to use HomeKit internally. For commercial products, intermediate tests will no longer be invoiced. The HomeKit-compatible devices are still very few (and expensive), Apple is looking for a change in strategy against the competition of Alexa, SmartThings and Google Home.
By opening its protocol, Apple may have found the solution to make its system more attractive face. HomeKit should now be much easier to implement. It opens up compatibility with services like Alexa, SmartThings and Wink.
To create a developer account or retrieve the HomeKit protocol specifications, go here.
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