That’s not what HomeKit is. Zigbee and Z-Wave are communication protocols used by devices to talk to each other. HomeKit is a programming framework used to provide a high level command structure that sits above the communication protocols, for all intents and purposes, an Application Programming Interface(API). One of the intentions of HomeKit is to allow Apple App programmers to issue commands to devices, regardless of the underlying device protocol. For example, TurnOnBulb would be used to turn on a light regardless of whether the bulb was Z-Wave, Zgibee or WiFi. Apple Apps use the same command and the HomeKit enabled device controller translates the Apple command into the command appropriate for that specific device.
HomeKit is literally another layer of obfuscation between the user and the device. It is a renaming of every single command or variable. It literally adds nothing, no capability, no functionality nothing to the device. It just inserts Apple in between the user and the device. A convenient gateway, where Apple gets to charge a toll and deny access to competitors.
Sure, it makes for quicker App development for iPhones and their programmers, it allows interfacing with Siri under Apples strict access control and competitive restrictions. But it blocks other companies and technologies, like Androids, unless they pay Apple the gatekeeper.
2) Have you used HomeKit? Specifically the Home app? I find it fairly telling that Apple was able to build a better user home automation user interface in their first release
Yes, I have used the HomeApp. But, the HomeApp uses HomeKit, it is not itself HomeKit. Nor is the HomeApp a home automation system. The HomeApp is a remote control App. The HomeApp is not a home automation system that allows complex logic and automated control of the entire system. The HomeApp is also IOS10 specific, no Android, no older iPads, no other devices. Just new Apple devices.
That’s not a terrible thing in itself. Like I said, it’s just an App and not a home automation system, it’s not even a controller hub. It’s just a pretty remote control skin. There’s no reason that someone couldn’t build an equally pretty control panel for any of the existing controllers and protocols. The whys of how they’ve failed to do so is an entirely different matter based on taste, desires, willingness to exert effort…
My point though, is that Apple hasn’t invented some great thing or technology and others are failing to adopt it, as you seem to think. Apple has simply put a pretty skin for their own devices, over everyone else’s technologies and then chosen to charge a toll to travel between the user and the device.
The “simplicity” and ease of use comes at the price or incapability and absence of features. That does indeed work for many people. Especially superficial users that just want a neat remote control. But, for those wanting a complete home automation system that does everything automatically and stays out of the way, that “simplicity” translates to ineffective.
3) You made the point that HomeKit is proprietary. I would argue that this is true for all home automation systems.
Very true, they are almost all proprietary and all of the manufacturers are still attempting to build their own walled gardens excluding all others in their money grab. They are all still ignoring the need for interoperability and thinking that their one system will dominate the market, Hue, Wink, Revolv, SmartThings... But, that doesn't mean that Apple adding yet another wall garden is a good thing for anyone except Apple. And as I've alluded, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. It doesn't bring a better bulb or a more reliable connection to bulbs or anything or the sort. It just relabels everything and charges for the use of the new label. You the user see it as bringing ease of use, but that ease of use is due to the limited feature set and devices available. Nest thermostats provide great ease of use, but when you're only controlling a thermostat things are pretty simple. When you're trying to control all devices in a home, it gets much more complicated and ease of use starts to fall away pretty quickly.
Although Z-Wave is an open standard, for example, I am now quite reliant on plugins or features that are very specific to Vera hubs.
Z-Wave is in no way an open standard. In fact, Z-Wave is one of the most, if not the most, closed and licensed protocols in the home automation industry. It also has nothing to do with Vera. Vera is simply a proprietary third party controller that has chosen to license and use the Z-Wave protocol form Sigma Designs, as many others have. They choose Z-Wave because, so far, it is the protocol that has demonstrated itself to have the most complete/robust feature set and the highest level of interoperability between other Z-Wave devices. Z-Wave is a wall garden that is succeeding with wide adoption because it is a better technology than the rest, so far. Zigbee was meant to be the open solution to supplant Z-Wave, but Zigbee's openness and lack of definition has created a very high degree of incompatibility between manufacturers, thus Z-Wave is still highly regarded and the generally preferred protocol.
Apple could easily add a Z-Wave controller to their product line. They could easily stick a Z-Wave chip into an Apple TV box, or a discreet device. But, they’d have to pay Sigma Designs a license fee for every Z-Wave chip sold, and ‘Apple don’ play dat!’. Why should Vera, Homeseer, SmartThings, Wink, Hue, and every other device manufacturer license Apples API instead of Apple simply offering a Z-Wave capable hub with their precious HomeKit included? I genuinely don’t understand why Apple haven’t. It would be an easy and relatively cheap way for them to grab a not insignificant chunk of the home automation market. Beyond stubbornness, I see no reason why Apple doesn’t. Unless they’re afraid that their simplicity and ease of use would start to crack once they had to deal with compatibility issues in Z-Wave and Zigbee bulbs or getting the new super-duper Z-Wave touch panel to work reliably.
None the less, your stated reliance on Vera and Vera plugins is entirely your choice. You can choose to use any of the half dozen major competing home automation systems that also support Z-Wave with your devices. Some have argued that some of those other systems are technically superior to Vera in every way. You simple choose to remain reliant on Ver.
But, in my view, you are now also choosing to be reliant on Apple and HomeKit. If you remain reliant on HomeKit and decide next year that the Samsung Galaxy 8 “now with unicorns” is the smart phone to have and abandon your iPhone, your HomeKit infrastructure is immediately unusable. Heck, if you drop your iPhone, your HomeKit system is non-existent. You rail at one system for being limiting, but embrace the other system that is actually even more limiting.
Anyway, time will tell. I suspect some enterprising companies will add HomeKit support to their hubs.
No doubt some will. The Apple user market is significant and someone is bound to decide that the price of admission is worthwhile in order to gain access to Apple users. But, after nearly three years, that hasn't happened yet. Meanwhile other companies are rapidly expanding Siri challengers with much lower barriers to third parties that want access to it. Why, pay Apple and endure their limitations when there are competing, perhaps better technologies than Siri(as if Siri is the future of HA), that are cheaper to use and have a larger market. As of Q2 2016 Apple's IOS had a 13% and declining market share as compared to Android at 86%. Apple also has zero home automation devices. All Apple has in the home automation market is an App and an arrogant attitude. An Attitude so strong that even I just wasted a page explaining that HomeKit is "The Emperor's New Clothes".