Apple told developers in session that they no longer need an MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) license to test out HomeKit smart products before bringing them to market, and are even free to experiment with the platform using popular custom-fit boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
The looser licensing should make it easier for developers to test out prototypes of smart home gadgets, although certification must still be obtained before the products are ready for commercial sale, Apple noted.
In addition to the licensing change, Apple has updated its HomeKit specification so that compatible smart products no longer have to include a hardware authentication chip. The update means authentication will go through software instead, with a firmware update allowing existing or future products to go through the same software-based authorization. Despite the change, Apple said the authentication process would use the same hardened encryption as it always has.
HomeKit has enjoyed reasonably wide support among smart gadget manufacturers, although users have sometimes had to wait for products to add the standard well after they have come to market. With a little luck, yesterday’s announcement should minimize the time it takes for third parties to integrate HomeKit into their smart gadgets.