Apple open-sourced its HomeKit smart home platform

The walled garden just got a door, sort of.

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Earlier this week, Apple, Google, and Amazon announced they were working on a smart home standard that would allow interoperability across hardware platforms. Today The Verge reports Apple’s gone one step further towards making that happen by open-sourcing parts of its HomeKit Accessory Development Kit (ADK) so that any developer who wishes to tinker can do so.

The move is a pleasing but unusual one from Apple, which is infamous for its love of proprietariness and exclusion. In a world awash with USB-C, NFC, and Bluetooth, Apple is the company of the Lightning cable, Apple Pay, and AirPlay.

Not completely open — To be clear, Apple’s not making HomeKit entirely open-source.

As The Verge points out, if you’re a manufacturer who actually wants to build and sell HomeKit-compatible devices you’re still going to have to pay to join Apple’s HomeKit MFi Program. But at least companies can try their hand at making hardware before committing to full-blown production.

More kit, more buyers — By making its hardware play better with hardware from other manufacturers, Apple could attract customers who wouldn’t otherwise consider its products. Encouraging developers and other third-parties to consider building HomeKit devices or services, meanwhile, could mean more options for curious or dedicated HomeKit users to invest in.

However this plays out unless you’re an existing Apple user, it’s probably wise to hold off on accumulating HomeKit-supporting gear for a while yet. The exercise in cooperation that Project Connected Home over IP promises could still take years to bear fruit.