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The state of smart home integrations

Apple recently announced that it would be partnering with a slew of smart home companies to bring HomeKit to their products, which is anticipated to have a huge impact on consumer adoption and the industry overall.

Until recently, it often didn’t make sense for smart home companies to integrate with each other. From a user experience perspective, the types of platforms previously available had limitations that required the user to set up complicated rules in order to provide adequate and useful functionality. While this was great for early adopters, it was not ideal for the mass market. Now, HomeKit and Google Home will serve as two easy-to-use options that are certainly more user friendly than what’s previously been available.

Integration also didn’t really make sense up until now because there were very few best practices in place. In recent years, there have been many improvements that have made integrating a more feasible and reliable option for smart home companies. Now, there are better guidelines in place because of companies, like Apple, that are codifying sets of best practices as rules for HomeKit, ensuring that products will work consistently and predictably in the ecosystem.

Why now?

The time is now because with companies like Apple and Google leading the charge in smart home integrations, consumers are already familiar with their products, services and platforms. Therefore, the learning curve isn’t as steep. Smartphone apps are already how we interact with most smart devices, and Apple and Google will integrate this functionality into the phone’s operating system. This means that users don’t need to adopt a new platform — they’re already on it.

From a user experience perspective, most people want their products to seamlessly work together and integrate without much effort. For iPhone users, HomeKit integrates multiple devices natively into the operating system, easily connecting them to the platform. The products don’t have to know each other and can seamlessly integrate without the user having to set up particular integrations or rules — it just works.

These are clear examples of how we know the time is now for integrations to make sense. When platforms reach this level of readiness and ease of use, it then makes sense for an organization to integrate its product. When integrations are done well, it allows your product to function better and vastly improve the user experience by enabling an ease of use that was previously unavailable.

How can companies implement smart home integrations?

Companies looking to integrate into platforms like HomeKit must make sure that their product can seamlessly function on its own. It needs to work well and do what it’s supposed to — consistently. Then, it’s important to determine if the integration mimics the flow of how users are already using the company’s apps and products. For many, this is why HomeKit makes sense. The iPhone is already many people’s main smart home hub and most products incorporate an iOS app, so it’s an operating system people and smart home companies alike are familiar with.

Additionally, companies need to ensure that the organization they decide to integrate with has sufficient standards set forth, even if they do just take into consideration the most basic guidelines. This is vital, because if you select an ecosystem with weak standards and guidelines, you are likely to endure significant issues. To really get value from an ecosystem, these guidelines have to make sense for businesses and customers alike.

The final step is for companies to do their homework and see who else is a part of the integration. Companies should look at the ecosystem as a whole, including the other product integrations, and determine whether their products will work well together. A smooth, easy user experience is ultimately the end goal, so it not only makes sense that a company’s product functions well, but also that it can play nice with others.

In the coming months and years, these integrations will become increasingly important to organizations looking to further push the limits of the smart home and encourage consumer adoption. With companies like Apple and Google jumping on board, it’s also likely that consumers will soon not only want, but expect integrations.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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