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Switched off: What's going on with Apple's HomeKit?

Thirteen months after HomeKit's introduction there are still few products on the market. What's the issue? Hardware partners say tight security requirements and platform changes.

As we enter the latter half of July, it's beginning to look like 2015 won't be the year of Apple HomeKit.

The company introduced its platform for smarthomes and connected devices last June but few products that support HomeKit have actually come to market. Indeed, the first few launched just last month to little fanfare amid reports from hardware partners that HomeKit would actually be delayed.

Now, more device makers are speaking up and talking to Fortune about the slow progress. What's the holdup, according to them? Apple's cutting-edge requirements are a challenge is one alleged reason while implementing them has proven to provide a poor user experience.

This tidbit from Fortune's article highlights the issues:

"Elgato, a Munich, Germany-based electronics company, is building a line of low-energy sensors under HomeKit and is using Bluetooth LE. When the company first started, just figuring out if a door was opened or closed took 40 seconds, said Lars Felber, a spokesman for Elgato.

Another source who requested anonymity to protect his relationship with Apple said lag times reached 7 minutes when his company's device tried to use the HomeKit protocol through Bluetooth LE."

In Apple's defense, the smarthome market isn't a simple one to crack.

You have to combine multiple product lines, wireless protocols and value-add devices in a compelling but simple and secure way.

And the last bit may be the biggest impediment based on what hardware partners are saying.

Apple, for example, is reportedly requiring HomeKit devices using both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to implement 3072-bit encryption keys.

Amazon Echo just became much more useful with IFTTT support Amazon Echo just became much more useful with IFTTT support Why wait for apps to work with the Amazon Echo when you can bring them yourself through If This, Then That support and 116 different services?

The company surely wants the platform be to as secure as possible, rather than rush out products that could be easily hackable.

That makes sense but in some regard, HomeKit requirements seem to be a moving target. In off-the-record conversations with The Register earlier this month, some HomeKit partners spoke about the certification process and how devices had to be re-worked to meet them.

As a result, we're still waiting for last year's HomeKit promise.

After using an Insteon smarthome system I started building up in 2010, I got tired of waiting. Instead, I moved over to a $49 Wink hub that works with the Amazon Echo and is supported on both iOS and Android.

HomeKit may one day fulfill its promise but that day isn't here yet.

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