Right now, if you’re considering the purchase of a home automation gizmo, you have to check its description carefully to ensure that it will work with your devices. Many work with Amazon’s Alexa, some support Google Home, and a handful are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. Even more devices rely on other standards or work only with vendor-supplied apps.
To address this problem, Apple has announced that it is partnering with Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance (which includes IKEA, Philips Hue, and Samsung, among others). The companies have created the Project Connected Home over IP Working Group, whose goal is an open-source, royalty-free home automation connectivity standard “to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet.” If the group succeeds, you should, in the future, be able to use any given home automation product with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, or whatever.
Cynics have been quick to point out that consortiums like this often fail because the member companies are rivals. However, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. As the author of the just-updated Take Control of Apple Home Automation, two of the most common concerns I hear about from readers are interoperability and security. If these companies can work together to solve such problems, it could benefit the entire home automation market. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.