HomeKit, Apple's smart home framework, is expanding to include another product: the ecobee3 smart thermostat that will launch on Tuesday in Apple's online store and physical locations.
The ecobee3 is the alternative to Google's Nest for homeowners who prefer a smart thermostat that runs on Apple's iOS-based framework. Using a combination of geofence triggering, scheduling and in-app parameters, the ecobee3 controls a home's heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system to adjust the temperature according to the activities of the people inside the home.
Ecobee already sells a smart thermostat with the same name, but the new version gets an upgrade to be compatible with Siri. That means, homeowners can connect the new ecobee3 to and iPhone or iPad running on iOS 8.1 or newer and tell Siri to turn up the heat when it's chilly and cool it down when the weather is toasty. Over time, the thermostat learns the homeowner's preferences and will automatically adjust its settings based on the time of the day or when someone is inside a certain a room.
"You have better things to do than teach your thermostat," says the Ecobee website. "That's why ecobee3 comes with the knowledge that most people are asleep between 11:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. But if you're on the night shift, you can change your schedule in seconds."
The ecobee3 also comes with an additional sensor that can be placed in another room to detect the temperature and presence of people in that room. For an additional $79, customers can also buy an extra pack of sensors that can be placed in other areas of the house. The regular ecobee3 package itself costs $249, and homeowners can start placing their orders online beginning Tuesday.
HomeKit is Apple's own smart home platform that promises users they will be able to control the different aspects of their home simply by telling Siri what to do. For now, however, HomeKit is only available in lighting control hardware from manufacturers such as Lutron, iHome and Insteon and, most recently, HVAC control systems such as the ecobee3.
In the future, Apple expects to forge partnerships with companies making door locks, garage doors, alarm systems and more to create a unified system for managing an entire smart home.
Early reviews of HomeKit, however, are mixed, with most reviewers praising the quality of the hardware while panning the inconsistency of Apple's Siri-based control system.