Apple Opens Up HomeKit to Hobbyist Accessory Prototyping

During a WWDC developer session on Wednesday, Apple announced that it is opening up HomeKit to allow any Apple developer to build and prototype smart home accessories without first needing to apply for and be granted an MFi license.

Until now, anyone that wanted to create a HomeKit product had to join Apple’s licensing program just to get started, reads a report from Forbes. Now, that wall is being removed, and Apple will now allow any registered developer to start building a HomeKit device. Developers can even put something together using a Raspberry Pi or Arduino now.

There is a catch, however, as HomeKit devices built in this manner – without an official certifications – will not be able to go up for sale. As such, they will only be meant for developmental purposes or for personal use.

Additionally, Apple is going to begin allowing developers to integrate HomeKit security into their products at the software level, rather than requiring an Apple-designed authentication chip.

This software-based authorization will be available to existing products as well, meaning that for the first time many legacy home automation products will be able to join the HomeKit club with merely a firmware update, rather than requiring users to replace hardware components to gain HomeKit compatibility.

HomeKit has become a reasonably popular smarthome standard, backed by companies like Philips, IKEA, GE, and Honeywell. Support has however lagged behind Amazon’s Echo speakers, which have looser encryption and certification standards for developers.