The Home’s Next Great Technology War

Apple has added HomeKit home automation APIs to the Apple TV’s tvOS operating system. It can now support APIs that allows Apple TV to communicate with and control any HomeKit-capable device. This makes Apple TV the hub for home automation – and for remotely accessing the home. It’s Apple’s equivalent to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s upcoming Google Home. We would not be surprised to see Facebook launch one, in which we’d have all of the big-four technology companies going after the market for controlling the home’s many Internet-connected devices.

Apple’s AI, the equivalent of Amazon’s Alexa, is the Siri that it has used on iPhones and iPads. The Siri capability that is built into the Apple TV’s Siri remote can be used to voice commands for home automation tasks. Whether Apple will also launch a dedicated home controller remains to be seen. Its Apple TV is always connected to a TV set, which is both an advantage – having a display – and a disadvantage – its physical location is typically in the living room. Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are standalone devices are can be located anywhere. The new Remote app allows any iOS device to function as a Siri remote for Apple TV. The new Siri-enabled Home app for iOS and Apple Watch’s watchOS also provides control of any HomeKit device.

But No 4K!

But, and it’s a big but, no mention was made of 4K or HDR, the kind of emerging technologies that Apple used to be at the forefront. To play content in 4K or HDR, the Apple TV must have the 4K and HDR technology – as well as the TV set to which it’s connected and this version of the Apple TV hardware might not have them. There is no imaginable reason that Apple would not have a 4K-capable Apple TV or that its iTunes online service would not offer 4K content. How can such an innovative and technologically skilled company as Apple launch in mid-2016 a product for TV sets that does not include both 4K and HDR?

Xiaomi, Apple’s Chinese rival, has made its Mi Box media streaming box both 4K and HDR capable. Even worse, Google, Apple’s biggest arch rival of them all (unless it’s Samsung), will sell the Xiaomi Mi Box in the States…

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