Unless you’ve personally been afforded the pleasure of interacting with Apple’s HomeKit in an outfitted dwelling, it can be difficult to grasp exactly how the system works to make our lives around the house easier. To solve this dilemma, Apple has reportedly installed interactive HomeKit experiences in 46 of its brick and mortar retail stores, allowing customers to engage with some of the more prominent, third-party HomeKit-compatible products for themselves.
Customers will now be able to walk into one of 31 Apple Stores in the U.S., including the Union Square Apple Store in San Francisco, Apple’s World Trade Center Store in New York City, and 29 others, where you’ll be able to “virtually experiment” with a variety of HomeKit products including the PHILIPS Hue Smart lightbulb and Hunter ceiling fan using either an Apple Watch, an iPhone, or an iPad. Apple is likewise offering the experience at 15 international locations in the U.K., Germany, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan.
For those who don’t live within close proximity of where interactive HomeKit experiences are available, you’ll be delighted to know that Apple has also outfitted its entire portfolio of retail stores with ‘non-interactive’ HomeKit displays.
What Is HomeKit?
Introduced as a key feature in iOS 10, HomeKit represents one of Apple’s first big steps into the emerging field of automation, and allows homeowners to control a variety of devices, appliances, and indoor appliqués from a single app. By grouping and connecting these devices within the Home app, everything from controlling the lights, to lowering the curtains, and even fiddling with indoor temperatures can be achieved with just a tap on the screen or by summoning Siri.
By bringing the HomeKit experience to some of its key retail locations, there’s no doubt Apple is looking to entice new customers by showing them the myriad of possibilities available with a HomeKit-connected dwelling. And with the HomePod just months away from hitting store shelves, the company appears to be upping the ante in hopes of fully automating our indoor lives.
HomePod and HomeKit
While the HomePod — Apple’s debut foray into the standalone, voice-driven personal assistant space — is meant to directly compete with similar devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Cupertino also noted at WWDC that the HomePod will simultaneously serve as a hub from which HomeKit devices can be controlled. Alternatively, an iPad or an Apple TV can also be used as a ‘hub’, making it possible for customers to control devices and grant remote access to other people living under their roof.
There’s currently no indication as to how long the interactive HomeKit experiences will be available to the public — or for that matter, how successful they’ll prove in garnering interest in HomeKit, itself. However it appears that Apple’s overall goal is to introduce the possibilities of the platform with new customers, and to expand its presence beyond the current slate of HomeKit-connected abodes.