HomeKit not sufficiently robust and reliable-Lots of errors reported, especially via HomePod

Cupertino, October 5, 2021

I don't think I'm alone in having frequent glitches with HomeKit, especially when using Siri on HomePod.

Siri: "This is taking too long", "Something Went Wrong". "Some of your devices didn't respond".

The thing is, none of these are actual, permanent problems. In many cases, the commanded action took place even though an error was reported. When something does fail to turn on/off as requested, a manual retry through Siri or on the iPhone almost always succeeds. Why doesn't the HomeKit software do these retries for us, silently and without backtalk?

Embedded developers know that hardware is unreliable, and that hardware being accessed over a network is especially unreliable. Packets are dropped and delayed. Checksums are mangled. Expected timing is violated. Retries and handling of various exceptions are par for the course. Embedded systems often don't have a user around to read error messages, or else s/he's busy flying the plane and doesn't have time for your silly messages.

HomeKit feels like it was written by Desktop Application developers who never expect anything to go wrong, and whose immediate recourse is to throw an error message to the user. That's the wrong approach. HomeKit is dealing with real-world hardware, from a variety of vendors, and not everything is going to go smoothly or repeatably.

I urge Apple to revisit HomeKit and its network stack with the mindset of an embedded developer and an eye towards robustness.

End rant.

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