Apple HomeKit Certification

Date: March 11, 2019

Author: Venkatesh Basavaraju

Paving the way for an Apple Compliant Smart Home Device
The whitepaper ‘Apple HomeKit enablement for smart home accessories’ discussed the processes and installation techniques involved in the development of smart home accessories to work with Apple Homekit framework. It explained in details the process of HomeKit enabling for IP accessories. This blog focusses on the complete self-certification process of Apple HomeKit Accessory.
The self-certification process is mandatory for all accessories and only on its successful completion, it can acquire the Apple HomeKit Certification. Apple has created a well-defined document of the self-certification process and the needed tool support for the self-certification process, which entails all the tasks that the OEM and Apple have to undergo.
Getting started with Certification
OEM needs registration to the MFI program to get the required license as an initial step in the HomeKit enabled accessory development. The MFI license then grants the OEM access to the HAP specifications, certification tools and test cases. OEM also needs to submit a product plan to Apple in order to initiate the HomeKit certification of the accessory. And immediately the product plan obtains Apple’s approval, then OEM can begin the process of certification. It is important to note that for an accessory to acquire certification, it must meet all the requirements of functionality, which is defined in the HomeKit Accessory Protocol (HAP) specification alongside succeeding in all the Apple defined test cases. The accessory will undergo tests and also pass every test in the certification tool, with the home app, utilizing HomeKit test cases made available by Apple.
Submitting Accessory for Certification
After passing all the required self-certification tests, the results are further updated in the MFI portal with the associated details and total report. The need to submit WiFi or BLE certification details might also arise. Furthermore, there is the need to create a detailed useer manual for the accesory and shipping the production ready sample to Apple so that it can pass through the certification tests. Afterwards, Apple provides its feedback, thereby completing the self-certification of the production ready accessory.
Apple HomeKit Logo Art
The package pattern of the accessory must abide by the Apple HomeKit Identity Guidelines, with respect to Apple HomeKit Logo artwork. A sample of the accessory is submitted to Apple for review purposes. At the completion of review, in instance for improvement, Apple suggests areas that need improvements and as soon as the corrections are made on such accessories, packaging self-certification is completed. The OEM can thus begin production after passing the packaging self-certification.
OEM Application
OEM applications are demanded to pass the Apple test cases for submitting in order to obtain certification. At the completion of the certification tests, Apple will provide feedback and at the update of the required changes, the final app will be submitted to the App store.
Publishing the Accessory
Once the processes mentioned below are completed, the certification process is considered completed:
  • Completion of the Accessory Certification.
  • Confirmation of Logo Art work.
  • Publishing of the app to the App Store.
  • The production of the accessory can commence after in-depth analysis of the market need and market targeting. The product plan is subsequently submitted to Apple, which has to right to demand updates on the accessories. After any amendments, the accessory is then published in the HomeKit supported accessories list in Apple’s website: (https://www.apple.com/ios/home/accessories/).
    Challenges one might come across in the process of development
    Apple frequently releases new versions of certification tools and expect that all the certification tests be conducted on the latest available tools. Therefore, after the release of a new version, all existing HomeKit accessory has to undergo the newly included tests and also pass them. There are possibilities that the accessory may fail some of the tests of the latest version of the tool. There could also be instances where the SDK provider support may have to meet the new test criteria.
    One other important challenge is the iOS update. Any update at that level has the probability of impacting huge alterations in the accessory’s function. These alterations might be good or bad, both of which affect the behavior of the accessory. Contacting the SDK providers and Apple can only identify the exact changes.
    It is recommended that the project is commenced and concluded at the shortest duration in order to prevent updates and recurring tests of the developed accessory.
    Conclusion
    The acceptance of Apple HomeKit integration is still developing and yet to receive widespread popularity. However, with the Apple HomeKit evolving into a user-friendlier tool, a brighter future can be expected for the smart home market segment. In addition, being a boost to the iPhone market, it will also serve as a market boost to makers of smart home devices.

    References:

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