As Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference approaches, the usual rumor mill is turning. One of the most exciting things that might be announced or hinted at is a Siri speaker, along the lines of Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home. Apple typically saves major hardware announcements, especially the ones with broad consumer appeal, for their fall events, but I can imagine an exception in this case. In order to have developer support for the new Siri speaker, it could make sense to pre-announce it. If it exists, and is coming soon, at the least I would expect Apple to announce a much more expansive SiriKit, the developer APIs for interacting with Siri, as a wink to developers that it will soon be useful beyond the devices we currently know about.
The thought of an Siri speaker is exciting to me because I enjoy the capability of the Google Home we have now, but would find a device that tied into our iOS devices and iCloud calendars more convenient. However, the best feature of the device would be a better way to interact with HomeKit, Apple’s technology for controlling smart devices around the home. Being able to tell a Siri speaker in the kitchen to turn off lights upstairs or turn up the air conditioning would be amazing. I have previously complained about the smart home becoming a platform war, but if I have to choose a platform, I would rather go with Apple. My family already uses Apple’s ecosystem and it makes more sense to extend that then figure out hacks to make Amazon or Google’s Assistant Speakers work for us. I also much prefer Apple’s commitment to device security. It makes it harder for device makers to get the HomeKit stamp of approval, but gives some piece of mind against hacking or exploitation once they do.
There is some other good news in the realm of smart home devices. This week IKEA announced that their line of TRÅDFRI smart lights will be receive support for Apple’s HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon’s Alexa this year. This is the way go. It seems particularly foolish for a manufacturer to tie your smart devices to only one or two platforms, just as this market is heating up. The combination of IKEA’s efforts for cross compatibility and their low cost will make them the first, and sometimes only, stop for smart lighting. I know I’m going to give them a shot. Other smart device makers should follow suit. A smart light bulb1 is to an Intelligent Speaker2 as a printer is to computer. It would be foolish these days for HP to not build support in their printers for Mac and Windows, yet many home automation devices make exactly that mistake. I’m heartened by IKEA, and if other device makers follow suit, the automated home future may get here fast than I thought.