HomeKit is Apple's attempt to anchor the Internet of Things within your iPhone's operating system, and with the newly released iOS 9, it's getting some key upgrades. Click through to see all of the tools in HomeKit's toolbox.
At the most basic level, HomeKit is designed to standardize the way you interact with Internet-connected home devices on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. If you wanted to turn the thermostat up or get the electric kettle going before you even make it out of bed, HomeKit lets you do it.
None of this is new, mind you -- iPhone-friendly, app-enabled smart devices have been around for a few years now. What HomeKit does is create a unified set of standards for these devices to follow, which lets them work with your phone or tablet's operating system on a much deeper level.
Those remote controls come in handy when you're leaving the office, too. With a few taps on your phone, your smart home can be ready for you to walk back in the door. If you want those gadgets to turn on all at once, you can use HomeKit's arriving-at-home scene to group them into a single action. It's one of four new default scenes to experiment with.
Turning stuff off from the comfort of your bed is pretty handy, too. Bedtime is another of those four default scenes.
You'll find some new automation capabilies for HomeKit built right into iOS 9. You can tie your devices to location, for instance, so that things will automatically turn off when you leave and come back on when you return. It's easier to schedule automated changes for specific times of day, too. And once we have HomeKit-compatible motion detectors on the market, you'll be able to trigger devices just by entering a room.
Upgraded Siri smarts are a big part of iOS 9, and that carries over to HomeKit, as well.
Among the new commands: support for color-changing lights, like Philips Hue LEDs. You can also create your own custom scenes for things like dinner time, movie night and party lighting.
You can also tell Siri when you're coming and going -- useful if you want to be more selective about when those location-based automations are triggered.
Expect Siri to get better at understanding context, too. There are lots of different ways to say "turn the lights on" -- with iOS 9, Siri should be able to work with more of them.
The real key for HomeKit is the arrival of compatible devices. Right now, the pickings are still a little slim, but that should change in the coming months.
You'll also find a new "Apps for HomeKit" collection in the App Store, listing all of the HomeKit-compatible apps available for download. Most of these will be product-specific, so expect it to grow in the coming months as new gadgets hit the market.