Orbit and their B-Hyve line of connected irrigation products made a “splash” when they announced that they would be supporting HomeKit back at CES 2018. While we have heard this story before, where a company announces HomeKit support and it never comes to fruition, Orbit was apparently so confident that they included the “Works with HomeKit” logo on their in store marketing at Home Depot, and even had the HomeKit set up code included on the Wi-Fi hub that was included with their Hose Faucet Timer. Naturally, I and many others, were excited at the prospect of adding irrigation to our smart homes and bought the company’s B-Hyve devices thinking that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that it would be added shortly after they launched. Even knowing the history of failed HomeKit launches, I reviewed and ultimately liked what I saw in the Hose Faucet Timer in one of my first reviews for HomeKit Hero back on June 23rd, 2018.
So now almost a year later, where do things stand? Well, we are closer, yet still so far away. We are closer in that we finally have some form of an answer from Orbit, with a company representative providing more than just a “it is still coming” response on the company’s forums. In fact, a pretty honest admission of where the failure lies was provided:
“…Our engineers have been working with Apple engineers to handle more than simply On & Off, which a lot of HomeKit devices do. Ours requires recognizing multiple zones and starting the correct one for the correct amount of time and so on. Our goal was to make the HomeKit experience as good as possible with the first release.
We have received a few test units from engineering to begin testing with, as those tests go we’re still early but we hope to get some units out in the field soon.
All Gen2 timers will be updateble over the air (OTA), basically the MFI chip has to be enabled and the “username and password” have to be sent to the timer so that it can be registered with HomeKit.
Has this all taken much longer than we had expected? Yes! Is the fact that this was a first for us, and at the time a first for HomeKit a good excuse? Not really but it’s all we got. Are we still planning to support HomeKit? Yes, soon…”
Yet, as you can see by the date of the post (February 4th, 2019) we are still far away from an actual release. While I do believe that support will eventually come, for this upcoming Spring and Summer seasons it is looking like it will just be Eve and Rachio watering the lawns and gardens for those in HomeKit land.