The blog post specifically states: "HomeKit software authentication provides a great new way for developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories while protecting privacy and security."
Apple HomeKit was first announced at WWDC in 2014. The Siri-powered smart-home platform had a slow start, due in part to its rigorous requirements for third-party HomeKit compatibility. Companies interested in adding support for HomeKit to their existing products had to manufacture a second-gen version of their device outfitted with an MFi chip. This allowed Amazon's open-API Alexa platform to speed ahead with a huge (and growing) list of integrations.
Software authentication should make this process much faster.
Back in June of 2017, Apple said iOS 11 would change that, but we've been waiting for the official switch from the MFi requirement to a simpler software authentication to take place. Now it appears Apple will make good on that promise this spring when the iOS 11.3 update becomes available.
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