Authentication process not required for Apple HomeKit products at the development stage

Authentication process not required for Apple HomeKit products at the development stage
In a move that signals greater openness, Apple has announced some updates on its HomeKit platform to let developers create HomeKit-enabled prototypes without going through the MFi certification process, and also, Apple’s authentication chip is no longer required in a HomeKit device.

Apple had required developers to insert an authentication chip into their smart home devices and go through the MFi certification program. The process, to some extent, became a barrier for entry for manufacturers who want to make HomeKit-compatible devices.

But now Apple has made the certification program less strict. Apple said at the WWDC 2017 that developers can now develop HomeKit gadget prototypes without getting the MFi license or using the specific chip. In addition, developers can also use developer boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino to freely play their ideas around HomeKit.

If developers want to make their devices commercially available, however, they will need to go through the MFi program. Still, the new policy offers greater freedom on developing HomeKit products.

Apple HomeKit’s specification also gets easier. Developers can now go through software update to get authorization from Apple instead of using the company’s authentication chip. According to the company, existing products may also take advantage of the software authorization through a firmware update.

On the end-user side, Apple will release updates on its Home app in the new operating system iOS 11. Users can pair their HomeKit-compatible products with the Home app more easily – through QR Code and NFC. The QR Code will be located on the packaging of the gadgets, and users may just place the iPhone near the products that are embedded with a NFC chip for pairing.

Another development of the HomeKit platform is that it is supporting more product types. Sprinklers and faucets are now added. With the new two categories, the platform supports a total of 16 product types, including thermostats, sensors, locks, lights and security cameras.

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