6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Apple HomeKit

If you’re a smart home fan, chances are you’ve thought about which ecosystem to choose. Should you go for Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit or Google Home?

If you’ve ever considered starting your smart home journey with the Apple HomeKit or maybe moving to it from another ecosystem, it might not be a good idea at all. Here are some reasons why you should avoid Apple HomeKit.

1. Limited options for smart speakers

Smart speakers are typically deployed as the backbone of a smart home ecosystem. They have the function of a hub, enabling interconnectivity between your smart home devices.

For manufacturers like Google and Amazon, you have several choices of smart speakers to choose from. They come in different shapes, sizes and functions. However, within the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, you’re essentially stuck with just one speaker model: the Apple HomePod mini.

Apple discontinued the larger HomePod speaker in March 2021 in favor of the HomePod Mini. So far, Apple has shown no signs of launching a HomePod model to complement the mini.

The Apple HomePod mini is comparable to speakers like the Google Nest Mini and Amazon Echo Dot, although it costs twice as much. This means Apple HomeKit doesn’t have speakers to match offerings like Amazon’s Echo Show series or Google’s Nest Hub Max.

2. Expensive ecosystem

Of the three major smart home ecosystems, Apple’s HomeKit is the most expensive to set up and manage. Buy a $200 smartphone, a $50 Google Nest Mini, and some smart home gadgets, and you’re off to a good start with Google’s Home ecosystem. Need Apple HomeKit? Well, using HomeKit requires an iPhone‌, iPad or iPod touch that is powered by the latest version of iOS.

An iPhone or iPad is of course not cheap. As of iOS 16 and iPadOS16, the Apple TV or HomePod mini is also the preferred control hub within the HomeKit ecosystem.

The HomePod Mini costs $99. Google’s Nest Mini and Amazon’s Echo Dot equivalent cost half that. To get the most out of your smart home, you naturally want as many smart speakers as possible in the right place. If you shop around for the right deals, you can get nine Echo Dots for the price of four HomePod mini speakers.

That’s not all. For a smart home device to be MFi certified, which is a standard for gadgets that can talk to HomeKit, such a device must have a special Apple-recommended security chip. This chip is costly and adds additional costs to the production of HomeKit-compatible home appliances. These costs are likely to be passed on to consumers. However you look at it, HomeKit is an expensive ecosystem.

3. Limited number of compatible devices

HomeKit is not as popular as its competitors. While the number of brands making HomeKit-compatible devices continues to grow, HomeKit is still way behind. According to StatistaAmazon’s Alexa ecosystem is compatible with approximately 100,000 smarthome devices.

That is a lot by any standard. Apple’s HomeKit can only be compatible with a few hundred brands.

At the fundamental level, the requirements to join the HomeKit-enabled club are a bit stricter, which is typical of Apple’s walled-in garden approach to building technology. This has its advantages, but it also makes many useful smart gadgets incompatible with HomeKit.

4. Slow pace of innovation

While Apple has been mocked for the lack of innovation with some of its products, such as the iPhone, that’s rather debatable. However, Apple’s slow pace of innovation isn’t entirely debatable when it comes to the story of its foray into the world of smart speakers and home automation.

The HomePod mini hasn’t evolved as much as consumers would like. Apple hasn’t really done anything spectacular other than competing brands like Sonos and Amazon.

As of September 2022, Apple still doesn’t have a speaker with a screen like the Echo Show series or the Nest Hub Max. Google and Amazon have had these models for years and are currently equipping them with exciting features like the Look and Talk feature on the Nest Hub Max. The HomePod mini is a good speaker for its size, but it desperately needs upgrades.

5. Overall Performance

Since Apple pulled the plug on the larger HomePod speaker, the competitive strength within the smart home space hasn’t been great. Since the HomePod mini is the only option for the HomeKit ecosystem, it’s difficult to pit a small speaker against larger, more advanced models offered by Google, Amazon, and Sonos.

There is also the matter of the virtual assistant. Siri is smart. However, it still falls short when it goes against Alexa and Google Assistant.

In terms of accuracy in answering questions, Siri came after Alexa in our internal virtual assistant test. In a test conducted by Loup Ventures, using a different questioning technique, Siri still played second fiddle, this time, to Google Assistant. Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, if you look at things objectively, it’s easy to see that the HomePod mini and Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, are lagging behind in several stats.

6. Apple Doesn’t Make Much Smart Home Hardware

If you’re serious about making the best products, you need to build the hardware your software runs on. This has been Apple’s philosophy from its early days, and Steve Jobs made it clear during the iPhone unveiling in January 2007.

Apple does this with most of its product line, not so much for the HomeKit. Yes, Apple builds the HomePod mini. But have you met Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem yet? Amazon makes most of its hardware. From smart thermostats, plugs and cameras to seemingly trivial things like a soap dispenser.

It’s not about who makes the smartest gadgets. It’s about ensuring seamless compatibility and quality for all interoperable smart gadgets within an ecosystem.

Apple relies heavily on third-party hardware to keep the HomeKit ecosystem afloat. For many people who use HomeKit, chances are almost everything in their Home app is made by different manufacturers. You would rarely find things that work just right. For some products, interoperability is a complete mess and timely software update is wishful thinking.

Want to walk into a store and pick a smart gadget that you know just works with HomeKit when you plug it in? Won’t happen. Buying products with a HomeKit sticker doesn’t mean it just works. Also, being HomeKit compatible isn’t necessarily a seal of quality from Apple.

Apple’s HomeKit isn’t here yet

Apple hasn’t really struck the right note with HomeKit. While we’d like to believe that Apple has the resources to appropriate its competitors’ advances, Google and Amazon are clearly ahead for the time being. In the worst case scenario, we suspect that this will be the case for a long time to come.

If you find yourself stuck in the Apple ecosystem, HomeKit doesn’t disappoint in all stats. It does have its good points. However, if you have the option to choose, HomeKit may not be the best choice for you.

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