During the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June this year, Apple unveiled its HomeKit advancements scheduled to launch this fall, when iOS 11 goes public. In this post we’ll explain how you, as an Eve user, may benefit from the many enhancements.
In two sessions, Matt Lucas and Praveen Chegondi of Apple’s HomeKit Engineering Team addressed key topics (You need to use Safari to watch the video) such as protocol extensions, additional accessory categories, and major improvements to the platform. They also revealed some changes to the user’s visible interface: you will have new triggers and conditions; it will be possible to activate one-time or recurring scenes with fixed durations; and you’ll finally be able to effectively employ multi-user support, which is great news for couples and families.
In addition, you’ll be able to create new rules. For example: “Switch on the electric heating (via Eve Energy) on workdays (Monday to Friday) at 7 a.m. for 20 minutes, but only when I’m at home”. Or “Set the heaters in the house (via Eve Thermo) to 18 degrees (64 F) as soon as the last user has left the house”.
Quick processing of status changes
Bluetooth-based HomeKit-enabled accessories, especially those of the Eve family, are already easy to use. Better yet, they are battery powered due to their low power consumption and can therefore be positioned anywhere. Now, with the advent of iOS 11, they’ll prove more effective and ideal for connected homes than ever. As for data and communication security, Apple remains committed to its stance on superior privacy.
Currently, Bluetooth-based accessories running iOS 10 (and earlier) activate a scene via a value trigger, or a notification following a multi-stage process: An accessory reports a status change when a door is opened or closed, a movement is detected, or a temperature change is measured. Then the home hub (Apple TV 4 or iPad in Home Hub mode) secures an encrypted connection with the accessory to determine what status has changed. It then checks whether a matching rule must be executed due to the change. And, depending on the accessories, home hub, and rules involved, this process may take several seconds.
With iOS 11, HomeKit-compatible accessories and home hubs will communicate much more efficiently. Instead of a non-specific notification, an accessory will report the actual status change directly while a unique key will be generated and applied to ensure security. Thus, the time-intensive Q&A between accessory and home hub will no longer exist, so scenes will trigger considerably faster. Obvious beneficiaries of this enhancement include Eve Door & Window, Eve Light Switch, and Eve Motion. Even if you control your lighting via Eve Motion, the corresponding scene will activate upon motion detection almost instantly.
That said, Elgato plans to implement this improvement via a firmware update soon after iOS 11 launches.
Categories, new protocols, authentication, and more
iOS 11 will also include numerous enhancements on a hardware level:
– Two new accessory categories, namely Sprinklers and Faucets.
– As if adding accessories to a home isn’t already easy enough, iOS 11 will eliminate the need to select a new accessory in a list before scanning its HomeKit code. The result? All you’ll need to do is scan the accessory’s unique QR-code, or hold your iPhone close to the accessory if it features an NFC chip.
– Previously, HomeKit specifications were only available to members of the MFi program. Now, a Developer Program membership is sufficient. However, an MFi license is still required to market a product. We believe that this transparency will lead to exciting applications and possibly even promote new product ideas.
New timers, triggers, conditions and functions
A connected home requires timers and triggers to be effectively controlled. Avid HomeKit users – who have noted their concerns regarding the platform’s limited repertoire in this respect – will be happy to know that IOS 11 ushers in numerous improvements to triggers, events, conditions and more.
– Timers can be set at a specific time (day / month / year / hour / minute). For example: Turn on the Christmas tree at 6:00 pm on 24.12.2017.
– Timers and conditions based on sunrise or sunset can be adjusted (e.g. 1h before sunrise / 1h after sunset)
Note: This sunrise / sunset timer was already available via the Home app as of iOS 10, but with iOS 11, it will become available to developers and their apps.
– Value ranges can be used as triggers (minimum, maximum, or a specific value within a value scale). For example: “If the temperature in the living room is between 25 and 28 degrees (Eve Degree, Eve Room), then switch on the mobile air conditioner.”
Control via user presence
Eagerly anticipated and finally (though, not yet) available thanks to iOS 11 is the possibility to create rules based on users’ presence. Plus there will be new Types catering for the home owner who leaves and returns home, as well as the first and last users (owner and guests) who leave and return home. Moreover, iOS 11 will offer conditions based on presence, such as switching on your lights and entertainment center at a specific time, but only if someone is home. Conversely, you can have the lights along with your entertainment center switch off when all users have left the house.
Automatically end, repeat, and update scenes
Scenes can be activated via iOS 11 for a limited time, such as switching on a light for 10 minutes. In addition, you will be able to repeat scenes based on the day of the week. For example, you can have the hallway light or air conditioner switch off after a set period, but only on workdays or weekends. Furthermore, a new trigger can activate a scene and leave it running indefinitely. For example, you can have your Christmas tree illuminate when a family member enters the living room, and control it manually thereafter.
Airplay 2 and HomeKit
Apple’s streaming technology, AirPlay, is also set to be updated. It will allow HomeKit to communicate with compatible audio devices so, for example, you can create a scene that launches a playlist when you reach your home. Numerous audio vendors have already announced Airplay 2 support, including Bose, Bang & Olufsen, and Apple’s own brand, Beats.
Give it a try or wait a little longer
Many of these new features are already available to developers and users of the public beta iOS 11 version. However, due to stability risks, we advise that you wait for the official release of iOS 11 in autumn.
Much like when iOS 10 was released, Elgato will again issue firmware updates together with an updated version of Eve to leverage upcoming iOS 11 features – free of charge and as soon as possible after iOS 11 is released.