WWDC 2019 HomeKit Wishlist Revisited

Now that Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference for 2019 has come and gone, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at our HomeKit wishlist from earlier this year and see how many we can cross off. Here’s how it all went:

tvOS & TV = 1 out of 3 wishes granted.

Home App: Of course for tvOS, we would like to see Apple bring the Home app to our video box of choice. While there may not be too many applications were I could see myself using my TV for HomeKit control, it would be helpful to see things such as a camera feed, or even just a quick glance at sensor states on the favorites tab.

Unfortunately, nothing was announced on the AppleTV front.

Notifications: Building upon the idea of bringing the Home App to the TV is the enabling support for important HomeKit notifications. While not everyone may be keen to having notifications interrupting their movie time, camera notifications that include a thumbnail for when someone is at the door, or when a motion sensor is tripped could prove to be useful.

Nope, although we could see this being somewhat of an annoyance if not set up properly.

Deeper TV integration: This one is pretty obvious, but we would love to see the TV become more useful within the Home App. Right now the device tile for the TV is pretty much useless, but if Apple could bring it up to par with the recently announced HomeKit tv support from 3rd party manufacturers, it could really open the doors to some fun automations.

Yes! The AppleTV can now be used in automations in iOS 13. The AppleTV can be set to play music when another HomeKit device is triggered, and remote options have been added to the “controls” screen.

macOS & The Mac = 0 out of 3 wishes granted.

Feature parity: First things first for the Mac, we would like to see Apple update the Home App so that it can accomplish all the of the same tasks as its iOS brother, such as the ability to add devices.

The ability to add HomeKit devices was not added to macOS Catalina.

Mac as a device: While we couldn’t come up with many scenarios where a Mac would fit in with other devices around the home, it wouldn’t be that far fetched of an idea as the airport express and the aforementioned TV is already displayed.

Nothing on this front, as expected.

Today view widget: We would love to see macOS’s handy today view get the ability to control favorite HomeKit devices and scenes. A quick click of the slide over notification menu would allow the ability to adjust certain devices and see things such as the temperatures around the home would certainly be nice to have. Camera support for the widget would be icing on the cake.

A Home App Widget was not added.

iOS 13 = 1 out of 8 wishes granted.

Expanded Automations: Pretty basic stuff here, such as the ability to create automations like turning on a fan when the temperature in a room rises above a certain temperature within the Home App would go a long way towards truly making it the one and only App that people would need.

Not quite sure why this hasn’t made the cut as of yet, but alas, new automations for things such as temperature have NOT been added.

More to Scenes: We would like to see Apple dip into other avenues of scenes, like allowing Music songs to play as part of a party scene or having the TV iTunes Store fire up as part of a movie night scene.

Music can now be added to automations in iOS 13.

Home backups: While technically iCloud does this as there are no steps to take when setting up a new device with your existing home, there are times that having a backup could be useful, such as when disaster totally strikes and the database for your home somehow gets corrupted.

Backups were unfortunately not announced, although it isn’t quite a critical feature.

State logging: While we do not think that home logs will ever become a part of the actual iOS Home App, we do think that Apple should allow the ability for 3rd party Apps to pick up the slack. Currently, there is only one App that we are aware of, Controller for HomeKit, that provides logs, but it does require the App to be open and the data that is logged cannot be customized, it is just a steady stream.

Logs have not been added, but states of Home devices can now be summoned via Shortcuts.

Device Restrictions: For those of us with children, we know just how excited kids get with changing the color of a light in the room, or turning off devices with just our voice. However, the Home App is currently an all or nothing affair, with those invited to the Home App getting access to all of the devices, leading to scenarios where things could be inadvertently (or intentionally) toggled. Adding the ability to restrict access to specific devices or rooms within the Home App, would solve this problem.

No restriction options have been added as of iOS 13 developer beta 1.

Camera Storage & More: One of the biggest hurdles with HomeKit and cameras is the reliance on using a 3rd Party vendor’s cloud to store recorded video, which can come with a cost. The ability for the Home App to record a camera feed or even just pictures straight to iCloud would be amazing. We already pay for additional storage anyway, why not put it to good use. To accomplish this, automations that trigger a recording state for the camera would have to also be added to the Home App, and throw in actionable rich notification support (think the “Turn on Light” option when a camera motion sensor is tripped) too, which could ease privacy fears by only allowing recording when selected by a user.

Wish granted! Apple announced the HomeKit Secure Video feature which uses iCloud storage for recordings will be coming to iOS 13.

User Favorites & Backgrounds: Not really sure why this has taken so long, but adding the ability to have separate device and scene favorites per user is a no-brainer. Hopefully, this would also extend to wallpapers in the Home App, but we will take what we can get at this point.

As far as we can tell, neither favorites or background syncing have been added.

Home Hub Assignment: Speaking of taking too long, the ability to set the specific Home Hub in the Home App would be very handy. We have seen far too many instances where an TV located way on the other side of the home randomly becomes the main hub.

This is a long overdue feature that unfortunately was not announced.

The Rest = 2 out of 5 wishes granted.

Watch Home Complications: Even though the awesome 3rd Party App, HomeRun, already fills in, we would like to see native support for HomeKit scenes that could be triggered with a Home complication on the watch.

No HomeKit related complications have been added in WatchOS 6.

Watch Home App Improvements: Let’s face it, the Home App on the Watch is in need of some help. For those of us with lots of devices, it can take a while for device states to update after opening the App, even with the latest and greatest Series 4 hardware. Adding additional tabs for Rooms, or one dedicated for camera feeds would be useful, but we would take a responsive and functional Home App first over any major additions.

The Home App in WatchOS 6 is the exact same as it is in previous versions of the tiny operating system.

CarPlay: The ability to trigger a security based automation, such as opening a garage door from a CarPlay connected head unit is high on many users lists. We could also see just having favorite scenes being selectable from the display also being useful, with a scene that turns off everything in the home instantly coming to mind.

Close enough: Contextual based HomeKit automations were shown off for CarPlay. An example of a garage door being opened was touted in a iOS 13 update image from Apple.

HomePod automations: Perhaps the biggest on our wishlist is the ability for the HomePod to tie into automations. We long for the day when the HomePod could act as an audio theft deterrent, where the device could play an “alarm” tone that is available on Music when a window is opened at night, or when no one is home. We could also see the ability for the HomePod to act as a simple “chime” when a door opens during the day being useful.

Shocker! The ability to use the HomePod to play music when automation conditions are triggered was added in iOS 13!

HomePod Mini: File this one under more than likely not going to happen this year, let alone at WWDC which already has the Mac Pro reveal looming over it, but it has to be said, a HomePod “mini”, would have us throwing our wallets at Apple as soon as they are announced. While we love our HomePods, we simply do not need “premium” sound in every room, and we would be happy with a smaller, decent sounding device at an affordable price (well affordable in Apple standards) of $99 or below.

Let’s face it, this was never going to happen at WWDC.

Totals: 4 out of 19 wishes granted. Not great, but any progress toward some of these is progress to say the least.

The addition of automations to device such as the AppleTV and HomePod makes the sting of some of these longstanding issues being ignored yet again quite a bit easier to handle. Here’s to hoping that WWDC 2020 will finally take care of some of these, and we will certainly be back with another round next year.

One thought on “WWDC 2019 HomeKit Wishlist Revisited

  1. This falls into the category of restrictions based on user – The ability to specify in which rooms a scene button shows up. If a scene contains a device that might exist in many rooms (like a light switch), the scene button shows up in many rooms. We should be able to create a House All Off scene for example, and limit it to show only on the Favorites Home page.

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