iOS 8, Yosemite and the future of home automation
Jun 04, 2014 // Uncategorized //

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 36 hours you will no doubt have heard that Monday saw the 2014 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Keynote. The last few conferences have not been so much about the developer but more a media frenzy of what new hardware will be released.

Monday was different, it was back to the developer and new technologies rather than new hardware. In fact, there was no new hardware announced at all. No iPhone 6, no change to the iPad, no iWatch, no doubt these will come later in the year as we head towards Christmas as consumers habitually spend more of their hard earned cash.

I’m not going to go into detail with everything that was announced, there are a million and one news and blog sites out there where you can find that. I will summarise what was said, but I am more interested in a couple of significant announcements.


In summary…

  • iOS 8 will be released for iOS devices in the autumn
  • OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” will be released also in the autumn
  • Widgets for notification centre in iOS – instead of just providing you with alerts, it will be interactive. Reply to a tweet, bid on an item on eBay or reply to an iMessage all from within the notifications area.
  • Apple opened up the fingerprint scanner to apps so you’ll be able to authorise purchases via fingerprint etc.
  • Third-parties can now develop keyboards as they can on Android
  • You will be able to activate Siri without touching your device just by saying ‘Hey Siri’
  • Mail, Messages and Contacts Apps have had a bit of a revamp with a few new ‘nice to have’ features
  • Family Sharing – up to six family members can share devices, have group calendars and reminder lists, shared ‘Find my iPhone’ groups so families can keep track of their children and parents will be able to approve or reject requests for purchases to prevent unauthorised in-app purchases. Families can also access apps and media content purchased by other members in the family group.
  • PhotoKit and camera APIs to give developers the ability to read and write to the Photos library and access the functions of the camera app as we know it.

What is a little more exciting is the fact that Apple have released more than 4,000 new API’s and launched Swift, a powerful new programming language. This will see the release of many new and exciting apps like we have never seen before.

The two areas I was very interested in though were the announcement of HealthKit and HomeKit.

Let’s look at HealthKit first. With iOS8, apps can share data between themselves (with your permission). Apple will introduce the new Health app which will work hand in hand with third-party apps which track calories, steps, exercise, sleep patterns and more. Collecting all of this data within the one app from several different app sources will give a clear view of the health of the user. Even more interesting is that this data can then be relayed to your Doctor. I can imagine GP surgeries around the country setting up system so that you can automatically send them your health data which then triggers alerts for required consultancy if something is not quite right – Note to self – write a GP surgery software package that allows patients to automatically submit their iOS health data to the surgery! Any angel investors?!

And then there is HomeKit. The next tech generation, as we know, will be the Internet of Things, home automation, generally making life easier. Apple is preparing for the future with this little golden nugget. The app will control compatible systems that are connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network. From the HomeKit app you can control the future generation of lighting, alarm systems, doors, locks, heating systems and more. Combined with Siri you’ll be able to create ‘Scenes’ so just a single action will generate a series of actions. Just by telling Siri that it’s time to go to bed, HomeKit could lock all of your doors, turn off the lights and dial down the central heating!

Many are talking about Home Automation, Apple are actually preparing for it with iOS8.


Be warned though, not all iOS devices will be receiving the upgrade to iOS8 once launched. So far it has been confirmed that the following iOS products will not be eligible for iOS8 upgrades… iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPhone, iPad2, iPad, iPod Touch 4th gen, 3rd Gen & 2nd Gen). So if you’re hoping to upgrade maybe it is time to start looking at upgrading your device.

So after all, this is a housing tech blog, where’s the link? Well the HealthKit and HomeKit certainly trigger many thoughts for the social housing sector. This time next year will customers of social housing be using Apple devices to switch on their washing machines, well no, of course they won’t be. Will customers of social housing be using an iPad Air to tell their GP that fitness levels this month have dropped dramatically since last month, I doubt it. The concept though. The concept of automated reporting and home automation is something that Social Housing could see in the next 12-18 months.

Health systems that are automatically monitoring vulnerable customers and alerting family members, social services, or indeed healthcare professionals that something is not quite right is no longer a futuristic idea. No, it may not be an Apple device recording this data, but Apple have certainly got the right idea.


Home Automation is a huge topic at the moment, within social housing too. Maybe not to the extent of systems shutting down the home for the night, but more reporting of energy usage, movement detection to monitor unofficial subletting. The automation of kit informing the landlord that something is about to break before it actually breaks is exciting. Social Housing is just at the stage now where a repair is reported and the process and workflow that go with that repair is pretty much automated. Taking it a stage further so that a repair does not have to be reported by the customer in the first place, or even better, the kit never actually gets to the stage of failing but it is replaced before that point, is staggering in my view. Not only from a customer service point of view but from a scheduling standpoint, a budgeting view, planning of works, maintenance, and from a cost point of view. It surely will be better to go out and replace a failing part on a boiler before the boiler gets to the point where it needs to be fully replaced.

Apple, in my opinion, have got this right, will iOS8 have a huge impact on the housing sector? No. Will automation? Most definitely.

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