The Internet of Things is hard, y'all. Apple discovered this for itself, says Fortune, and has delayed the launch of its hotly anticipated HomeKit platform. Apple's Internet of Things push will eventually allow iPhone and iPad owners to control supported devices in their home using Siri.
Apple first announced HomeKit at WWDC in June 2014. The company hasn't said much about it since. Some of Apple's partners revealed HomeKit-compatible gear at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but those products are mostly absent while awaiting the platform's wider launch.
Apple never said when HomeKit would launch, but it was expected by late spring. Now the launch is more likely to be scheduled for the fall (maybe timed for the next-gen iPhone's launch?). Why has it taken so long for Apple to get HomeKit up and running? Messy code.
"Apparently, making it easy to sign in and get your devices (door locks, light blubs, et cetera) online is much harder to do than Apple anticipated," reports Fortune. "One source says the code base associated with that part of the process 'blew up' and required way too much memory for smaller, battery-powered devices, so Apple is trying to shrink the code back down to size."
HomeKit's promise was to make everything as easy as possible. The plug-and-play approach will require some sort of in-home control unit (the Apple TV, perhaps?), a working WiFi network, and the gear to be controlled. The gear will need to pass through a certification process for HomeKit similar to the one Apple use for "Made for iPhone." This will ensure at least some base level of quality control. If you want to create HomeKit-enabled gear, you'll need to sign up with Apple to get the ball rolling.
In addition to WiFi, HomeKit will make use of Bluetooth. Broadcom recently launched new IoT software and said, "HomeKit devices will be able to bridge from a non-WiFi device such as a Bluetooth Smart light bulb to connect to a smart plug containing Broadcom's software module, creating a bridge from the light bulb to the user's HomeKit-supported app on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch."
Apple's WWDC is lurking on the horizon. Scheduled for early June, it may be where Apple finally gives developers more details about the stalled IoT push.
While Apple works on the code, Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel, and others are moving forward at a quick pace. Earlier this week Samsung announced the Artik platform, a combination of processors and SDKs for tying together all the applicances in your home. Early Thursday, Qualcomm debuted new silicon and cloud-based software tools for its own IoT platform.
The number of disparate systems, while rich in opportunity for developers, could leave consumers' heads spinning. Many are hoping Apple's HomeKit can help tie things togeher. Whether or not it will is a question we're still waiting to be answered.