I am a HomeKit veteran at this point; I’ve used just about every product that has HomeKit support that I can try without major installation (rewiring electrical outlets, changing out light switches, etc). I think it’s time for Apple to buy HOOBS and officially welcome Homebridge into the fold of HomeKit.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
If you aren’t familiar with Homebridge, it’s basically a third party App Store. The tagline for Homebridge is bringing HomeKit support where there is none. I’ve run countless Homebridge plugins over the years, and they’ve generally worked very well. I don’t even think about the plugins not being an “official” HomeKit product.
Homebridge allows you to integrate with smart home devices that do not natively support HomeKit. There are over 2,000 Homebridge plugins supporting thousands of different smart accessories.
I am a big believer in choice when it comes to technology. If you want to use a Ring Doorbell in Apple’s Home app, I think you should be able to. If you want to monitor your UniFi cameras from your iPad, why can’t you?
How would Apple enable Homebridge safely?
One of the benefits of HomeKit is how much control Apple has over it. Apple has strict guidelines on the types of devices that you can use as well as their security. I am a fan of their model for the majority of the time. What I’d love to see Apple offer is a developer mode in HomeKit where you could run a version of HOOBS on your HomePod mini and install “HomeKit apps” that would essentially be a version of Homebridge apps.
When enabling HomeKit’s developer mode, Apple could inform you of the risks:
- Things might not work right
- These devices (especially cameras) haven’t gone through Apple’s security testing
- There is no support if something doesn’t work right
I envision a section of the Home app where you can browse HOOB’s Homebridge directory, add new plugins, and then add the products to your Home environment. Just like unplugging your HOOBS box removes all these products from the Home app now, you could immediately uninstall the plugin if you run into any issues.
Would this be a radical approach for Apple? Yes, but I think it would be a way to grow HomeKit’s market share and sell more HomePod minis. Currently, Amazon is viewed as the more “open” smart home platform as almost all devices have Alexa support. If Apple added native Homebridge support in HomeKit through HomePod mini and the HOOBS software, it would be a win for smart home enthusiasts everywhere. What do you think? Would Apple integrating HOOBs/Homebridge into iOS make you more likely to use HomeKit over Alexa or Google Assistant?