Momentum Builds for Apple Watch and HomeKit as New Details Emerge

This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for Apple enthusiasts. Both Apple Watch and HomeKit hold the potential to be revolutionary in the same way the iPhone was eight years ago. The Wall Street Journal has a great article on the Apple Watch. Bottom line: just as the iPhone freed us from the desktop and made communication and information more mobile, so too will the Apple Watch take things to another level by making information and communication more convenient and easier. 

Consider alerts. The article says talks about the multiple steps in receiving an alert on an iPhone: "Our phones buzz, we pull them out of our pockets or purses, read a push alert, swipe to unlock, wait a split second for an app to load, then perform an action that might have been designed with more free time in mind than we have at that moment." Too much "friction," the writer says. Not easy. Compare that to the Apple Watch, which compresses all that into a short glance. The watch buzzes, and you look at it. Easy. If you continue to look at the alert, the Apple Watch automatically shifts to "long glance" mode and gives you more contextual information as well as buttons for taking action. The information on an Apple Watch is available in an instant, and it scales up according to how much attention you give it. Elegant. The article says this will transform push notifications—and the rate in which we can consume them.

Developers are hard at work creating apps for this new platform, and many should be available by the time of launch. The WSJ article describes a shopping list app that precisely knows your location so that when you walk into a store, it guides you right to the product you're intending to purchase. And it's all right there conveniently available on your wrist.

Momentum is also building for HomeKit, Apple's home-automation platform. Last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas featured a number of new devices compatible with HomeKit. A post on The Verge mentions some of them: smart outlets, a garage door opener, light bulb adapters, a door lock, a power strip, an entire range of HomeKit sensors from Elgato, and a hub from Insteon that bridges HomeKit-compatible devices with Insteon’s catalog of smart home accessories.

One open question about HomeKit, though, has been what the role of the Apple TV would be. Some had predicted that it would be a central hub. According to The Verge, not so. It will play a limited role: if you want to use Siri to control your devices while you're away from home, you'll need an Apple TV. Otherwise, no Apple TV is required. Of course, if you want to remotely control your devices and don't have an Apple TV, you'll still be able to do it via an app. In order to use the remote Siri feature, you'll need a third-generation Apple TV, which is the current model, or later.

Interestingly, The Verge says that the demos of some of the HomeKit-compatible devices didn't go so well. But the post explains that Apple hasn't even yet begun certifying devices and would likely have preferred that vendors not have shown their HomeKit wares at this early stage.

When will we see HomeKit devices? It all depends on Apple. The Verge said that some vendors are hoping to begin selling their products this quarter, but others are saying it will probably be the second quarter before HomeKit products will be available.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.