Apple Yanks Nest From Stores in Favor of Fussy HomeKit

Apple stirring up some controversy? Pshaw, never! OK, except for today and, yes, earlier this week, too. Here are the latest reasons Apple has come under fire from consumers and developers alike.

Late Thursday, news broke that Apple had fully removed Nest products from its retail stores and website. Nest, now owned by Google, includes the Nest camera, thermostat and smoke detector. All three are connected devices for the home that can be controlled via smartphone apps. We're talking about the Internet of Things here, folks, and Nest's products have been popular as long as they've been in the market.

Until this week, they were available directly from Google, as well as from Apple and other electronics retailers. Well, Apple apparently doesn't want to continue selling products that compete with its own and pulled the Nest gear, according to CNN.

Apple does, however, now sell the Ecobee3, a $249 thermostat that works with Apple's HomeKit platform. Apple has a handful of HomeKit gear on sale, but the products have been slow to reach the market. It turns out there's a reason for HomeKit's slow uptake: It frustrates developers. Here are some examples.

"Elgato, a Munich, Germany-based electronics company, is building a line of low-energy sensors under HomeKit and is using Bluetooth LE," reports Forbes. "When the company first started, just figuring out if a door was opened or closed took 40 seconds, said Lars Felber, a spokesman for Elgato." Forty seconds. That's a long time.

"Another source who requested anonymity to protect his relationship with Apple said lag times reached 7 minutes when his company's device tried to use the HomeKit protocol through Bluetooth LE," continued Forbes. Seven minutes. That's an eternity and darned near useless. Imagine if it took you seven minutes to unlock your front door via your smartphone. When it's pouring rain. You'd kick the thing down rather than wait that long. This type of lag is no good.

One of the issues has to do with the security protocols required by Apple. Apple requires Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Low Energy for certification as HomeKit accessories. Apple is forcing developers to use 3,072-bit encryption keys, as well as the Curve25519 digital signature instrument. Experts call the security measures "bleeding edge."

To be fair, we are talking about the security of our homes here. Obviously people want to know that the random electronic devices they pick up at Best Buy over the weekend are going to fully protect their domicile. That requires strongest security. Apple's requirements, however, appear to be stymying developers and IoT makers.

What are your thoughts? Have you encountered any lag or security problems with HomeKit? Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below.

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

Comments

Comments(1)

contexxia

Lag time is certainly not good. Makes the entire protocol unusable and is a certain disincentive for developers. But we can't fault Apple for wanting a higher level of security, encryption, etc.