Apple WWDC and the smart home: Siri for third party devices and more

All the smart home announcements from Apple's WWDC Keynote

Siri comes to more HomeKit devices
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In a huge shift for the Cupertino company, Apple has announced that Siri - its digital assistant - can now live in third-party devices.

Starting today smart home device manufacturers can integrate the smart voice assistant into their accessories, said Apple.

It's a move that will give HomeKit users more ambient access to the voice assistant in their home.

Read this: The best Apple HomeKit devices

The announcement came at Apple's WWDC 2021 Keynote, a developers conference that is taking place all week.

Another sign of Apple opening the HomeKit gates to more smart home integration was a brief mention of support for Matter (the project formerly known as CHiP) coming in iOS 15.

"You'll be able to control HomeKit and Matter-enabled accessories in the Home app," said Yah Cason, a senior engineer on HomeKit, during the presentation.

Here's a quick look at all the HomeKit-related news from the event:

Siri coming to third-party smart home devices

Apple showed off an Ecobee thermostat with Siri inside in a surprise move that allows the digital voice assistant to live inside non-Apple devices.

"HomeKit accessory makers can now enable 'Hey Siri' in their products allowing customers to talk to and get responses from Siri on third-party devices," the company said in a press release following the event.

Before we get too excited we should point out that Siri will still live in your HomePod, and all Siri-enabled accessories will relay requests through a HomePod or HomePod Mini, so you'll still need to have one of those devices on hand.

The third-party device integration will support features such as Personal Requests, Intercom, timers, and alarms.

Ecobee confirmed that it will be one of the first third-party devices, and the first smart thermostat, to include Siri later this year.

HomeKit Apple Watch app gets an update

HomeKit Apple Watch app gets an update

The HomeKit app on your watch is getting a redesign to make it actually useful.

New features including the ability to "control relevant accessories depending on the room you're in," said Cason. Which sounds like a very cool contexty-type feature, much needed on a device with such a small screen.

The redesigned Home app comes with watchOS 8 and will offer "more convenient access to accessories and scenes needed in a particular moment, and the ability to control accessories by room."

You can also use it to answer the door directly on your wrist if you have a HomeKit video doorbell.

The HomePod feature Intercom that lets you broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms or devices is also coming to the Apple Watch.

HomeKeys arrive in Apple Wallet

HomeKeys arrive in Apple Wallet

Apple is putting the Ultra Wideband technology in its devices to some good use in the home with HomeKey in Apple Wallet.

In addition to digital car keys they announced last year, you will now be able to add your house key to your Apple Wallet and just tap to unlock your door with your phone or your watch.

Of course you'll need a compatible smart door lock and while they didn't announce any models a screen shot of partners showed Aqara, Latch, Schlage and Assa Abloy (owners of Yale and August), which covers most current HomeKit lock makers (no Level though).

Apple's HomeKit Secure Video platform

Finally, unlimited cameras in HSV

In what is very good news for those with lots of security cameras, Apple's HomeKit Secure Video platform will now support unlimited cameras.

You've been able to have as many cameras as you like in your Home app, but you could only record clips from up to five.

Now HomeKit is opening up to allow unlimited cameras as part of the new iCloud+.

With a 50GB plan for $0.99 a month you'll get one HSV camera, with the 200GB for $2.99 a month up to five, and for the 2TB at $9.99 you can have all the feeds you can eat.

Guide: Apple HomeKit Secure Video explained

iCloud+ also adds a new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, and all current iCloud subscribers will be upgraded this fall.

A couple other new features for HSV include the long-promised package detection and the ability to view more than one camera at a time on your Apple TV.

HomePod mini

Apple TV will now pair with HomePod Minis

HomePod Minis will soon be able to act as a stereo speaker set up with your Apple TV (a feature the now-discontinued full-sized HomePod had). The Minis will also support lossless audio in Apple Music.

Other Apple TV updates include the ability to ask Siri to play a specific show on Apple TV and the addition of SharePlay and Shared With You. This will let you watch shows with friends and send recommendations that will show up in their suggestions on their Apple TV home page.

Another new recommendation addition is a row titled “For All of You” — which will attempt to use AI to figure out something that every person in your household will enjoy watching, so you can all sit down together and enjoy family movie night.

We will believe that when we see it.

All these new Home and HomeKit-related features are coming this fall, and will be available in public beta next month.

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