Apple says first smart home HomeKit devices are coming in June

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said the first pieces of hardware for smart homes running on its HomeKit software will be released next month. The statement by Apple pushes back against a Fortune article that said the first launches would be in late August or September, later than had been expected by some.

"HomeKit [hardware certification] has been available for just a few months and we already have dozens of partners who have committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market and we're looking forward to the first ones coming next month," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told the Wall Street Journal.

Apple had never said when the first HomeKit devices would be released. Re/code had reported in January that one HomeKit participant said their device would be available for Mother's Day or Father's Day, which fall in May and June, respectively.

Apple first announced HomeKit in June 2014 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but only in November 2014 unveiled a HomeKit hardware certification program. The company said HomeKit is an attempt to bring some "rationality" into the home automation space by creating guidelines for companies that are building remotely controlled lights, door locks, thermostats and other home automation programs. The goal, Apple executives said at the time, was to prevent confusion among users who must currently access separate apps for each of their home automation products. Apple said that, via HomeKit, iOS users will be able to use Siri's voice recognition service to say "get ready for bed" to automatically have their doors locked, lights dimmed and garage door shut, for example.

Consumers can also use HomeKit to create "scenes" that combine several products together, so a person could lock their door and turn off their lights when they are leaving the house, for example, Fortune noted.

Fortune initially reported that Apple delayed the launch of HomeKit. The publication, citing unnamed sources who have participated in the Home Kit program, said Apple has run into difficulties in letting users sign in and get connected to home appliances, door locks, light bulbs and the like. That is proving especially true for smaller, battery-powered devices. Getting lighting systems connected has also been an issue, the report said.

HomeKit will compete with several other smart home offerings. Samsung Electronics acquired smart home startup SmartThings last year; SmartThings lets people monitor, control and automate their homes from a single mobile app. And Google acquired Nest last year as part of its own smart home strategy.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Fortune article
- see this The Verge article

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