tvOS 17 is now ready to be released into the wild. The lead feature is users can now make and receive FaceTime calls directly from their Apple TV 4K. Calls can also be started on an iPhone or iPad and transferred to the Apple TV. This feature uses something called Continuity Camera support which essentially means that the camera and microphone of the paired iPhone or iPad is going to be used to continue the FaceTime call. Webex and Zoom are also set to launch tvOS apps that will use Continuity Camera. But, it is the redesigned Control Center that holds some greater interest.
Control Center integrates nicely with HomeKit accessories and apps to create the Home app, another attempt by Apple to basically usurp the English dictionary and trademark everyday words like, you know, Apple and home, as its own inventions. But on a positive note, Apple’s using the Matter Open Source connectivity standard, also supported by Google and Amazon, to enable a broader range of smart home devices to connect to its services. The fly in the ointment still remains a general feeling that Apple has not shown HomeKit enough love. It is, unlike most Apple products that want to be fashionable, very utilitarian. There’s a reason appliances are called white goods; washing machines, lights, locks, and refrigerators are just plain boring.
Supporting HomeKit is indeed a challenge, given the vast variety of smart devices available in the market. Smart devices, ranging from lighting systems to door locks, come with their own sets of software applications. Not all of these applications are optimized for connectivity and reliability, presenting a potential concern for integration with HomeKit. While prominent manufacturers like LG or Samsung may invest significantly in ensuring their devices are compatible, not all consumers may be inclined or financially positioned to restrict themselves to these brands exclusively. Moreover, a strong and reliable WiFi connection, needing a high-quality router, is essential for the seamless operation of these devices, yet most households are reluctant to invest in this critical component and are happy to take whatever their ISP gives them. So, it’s exciting to have tvOS 17 and its features, and it’s exciting to think abut home hub integrations but there’s a lot of work to be done to make smart home devices work together seamlessly.