The latest Apple TV Software Beta 2 which was seeded to developers yesterday alongside new iOS 8.1, Xcode and Yosemite betas enables support for HomeKit on the $99 media-streaming box, as first reported by AppleInsider.
In addition to HomeKit, the software includes support for Family Sharing and contains functions allowing developers to test AirPlay functionality with their iOS apps. Although HomeKit functionality was spotted in earlier Apple TV betas, Apple has removed the feature last month without an explanation.
In mid-September, Aaron Tilley of Forbes first caught mentions of HomeKit in regard to the Apple TV software. HomeKit, Apple’s framework for the connected home, allows iOS 8 devices to communicating with and control various ‘Made for iPhone’ accessories in one’s home.
“You can enable users to discover HomeKit accessories in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices,” explains Apple.
Users can even group actions together and trigger them using Siri. Theoretically speaking, Apple just needs to add a microphone to the Apple TV and enable the always-on “Hey, Siri” functionality in order to fully support HomeKit on the device.
Official HomeKit support on the Apple TV opens up a whole new world of possibilities where the media-streaming device could become a hub bringing together various apps and accessories for controlling one’s home.
Many people have observed that Apple doesn’t need to build its own hardware akin to Google-owned Nest devices because it’s been selling a living room streamer which could support HomeKit.
With HomeKit support baked into the upcoming Apple TV firmware, the device seems poised to act as a bridge that brings together various HomeKit accessories, allowing you to, say, turn on your smart bulbs or unlock your door using just an Apple TV.
For what it’s worth, the device features low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi wireless technologies. Indeed, an unnamed developer shared this slide on the internal Apple development forums which details how the system works. After logging into iCloud on your Apple TV, Apple’s servers enable the device to act as a potential remote access peer for other HomeKit smart devices in your home.
In turn, information from users’ connected home gets automatically synced with the Apple TV.
“This is made possible because HomeKit uses CloudKit to store home and accessory info in the cloud, while Keychain is used to store paired keys, the developer said,” according to AppleInsider.
Because Apple TV is always in your home and online, it will make it easy to control and manage your HomeKit accessories when you’re away from home, like the Nest thermostat.
“When a user is accessing their smart home remotely, Apple’s system reportedly scans available remote access peers and searches for the one with the lowest latency,” the publication explains.
There are more than 20 million Apple TVs out in the world and it appears that Apple has big plans for the $99 streamer, plans that go way beyond enjoying your media and reimagining the television interface.
So, who’s excited about the Apple TV potentially becoming the official hub for a connected home?