Apple watcher spots room for HomeKit in Apple TV beta

Apple TV

At the core of the connected home decked out with smart devices could be none other than the Apple TV, with the company's latest beta software bringing HomeKit support to its $99 streaming set-top box, reported Neil Hughes, the managing editor of AppleInsider earlier this week. This could mean enabled remote access relay for HomeKit connected accessories. Hughes was referring to Apple's own notes for Apple TV Software beta 2 released on Tuesday which said that the pre-release build "includes support for Family Sharing and can be used for testing AirPlay and HomeKit with your iOS apps." What is HomeKit? This is the very framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories around the home. Christopher Breen of Macworld defined HomeKit, as "a suite of tools for controlling such devices in your home as thermostats, furnaces and air conditioners, smart appliances, lights, cameras, garage-door openers, and security systems."

The recent report from AppleInsider looked at an explanation from an iOS developer on the internal Apple forums about how the system works. "Logging into iCloud on an Apple TV will register the set-top box as a potential remote access peer for the HomeKit application programming interface. Once the user accepts using their Apple TV as a remote access peer, information from their connected home will automatically be synced with the TV accessory." If a person proceeds to access the smart home remotely, then Apple's system scans the remote access peers available, looking for the one with lowest latency.

Even back in June, Breen was imagining this could be a future development involving the Apple TV: "Throw an A7 processor and some more flash storage into a next-generation Apple TV and you're talking about a hefty hunk of hardware—one that could not only manage your home but also accommodate third-party apps for really opening up the device to media and games." He had also remarked in June how "I've been wanting a more flexible Apple TV for quite awhile. With the introduction of HomeKit that desire has become a raging passion."

Looking at the significance of the HomeKit tie, AppleInsider's Hughes said that "HomeKit support in the Apple TV is yet another sign that the company's streaming set-top box is likely to become Apple's official hub for a connected home." Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch said that "using the Apple TV as a hub and central command center makes a ton of sense, and begins to reconfigure Apple's media device ambitions as something new – and something with a lot more future potential."

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