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Light Bulbs

Ikea's Tradfri smart bulbs to support Alexa, Google and Apple HomeKit this summer

The Swedish home furnishing retailer is planning to jump in with all three major voice platforms for its smart lighting system later this year.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Ikea's "Tradfri" line of smart lighting starter kits had us intrigued when we tested the system out recently, but a lack of integrations with popular smart home platforms kept us from recommending them outright. Tuesday, Ikea moved to address that shortcoming by announcing that the Tradfri line will add support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and the Google Assistant later this year.

Ikea's Tradfri smart lighting starter kits are on sale now -- systems like the one on the bottom that include the Gateway hub will work with Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant later this year.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

"Making our products work with others on the market takes us one step closer to meet people's needs, making it easier to interact with your smart home products," Ikea product manager Björn Block says in the release.

Adding support for all three major smart home voice control platforms -- Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant -- would be a significant step forward for the Tradfri line, which markets itself as a simple plug-and-play smart lighting solution designed to compete with established names like Philips Hue. Though the two-bulb Tradfri starter kit actually costs $10 more than the two-bulb Philips Hue White starter kit, Ikea might have an advantage with its Tradfri bulbs -- they're brighter than the Hue bulbs, come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including panels that can be incorporated into Ikea furniture), and start at just $12 a piece -- or $18 for bulbs that offer multiple color temperature settings.

Still, Philips Hue White LEDs aren't that much more expensive at $15 each, and they already work with all three of those voice platforms, along with other notable third-party services like SmartThings and IFTTT. Ikea clearly realizes that it has some catching up to do -- adding Siri, Alexa, and the Google Assistant into the equation would certainly help them hit the ground running.

There's some question of when and how it will all happen, though. Syncing up with Alexa should be simple enough, thanks to Amazon's open developer tools designed to help third parties build their own Alexa skills for the voice assistant. Google is working to help developers put its voice assistant to work, as well. HomeKit compatibility will be the toughest hurdle because Apple places strict hardware and software demands on its device partners in order to ensure the security of the platform.

It's unclear if the existing Tradfri Gateway hub that controls Tradfri bulbs was designed to meet Apple's standards from the get-go. If it wasn't, then Ikea may need to tweak the hardware and re-release the product, as manufacturers like August and Ecobee have already had to do. Ikea's team hasn't responded to my questions about the announcement just yet, but I'll update this post if and when I hear back.

Ikea claims that support for all three voice assistants will be live by this fall. Once that happens, expect us to revisit those Tradfri starter kits with an updated review.