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Xiaomi's Aqara smarthome gear to support Apple HomeKit end of 2018

China's Xiaomi is reportedly planning to support more third-party smarthome platforms via its Aqara brand, beginning with Apple HomeKit.

HomeKit compatibility is coming, and will probably be added by the end of 2018, according to Xiaomify. The announcement was made at a Shanghai technology conference, where Xiaomi also showed off things like a lightbulb, a new Cube Controller, and a second-generation Smart Doorlock, which has a fingerprint sensor built into its handle.

It's not yet clear which products will get HomeKit, but there are a number of Aqara-branded devices on the market ranging from water, door, and temperature sensors through to security cameras and even curtain motors. It's also uncertain whether Xiaomi will be using hardware or software authentication, and/or require some sort of bridge. Software authentication was incorporated as a feature of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3.

So far, Aqara gear hasn't been targeted at the North American market, but expanded platform support could serve as an entryway. Until now the brand has even lacked support for Amazon Alexa or Google Home/Assistant, both of which are forthcoming after HomeKit if not around the same time.

Today's news could help entrench HomeKit in China and other international markets. Some Chinese companies, like Haier, are already making compatible products, but Xiaomi is a major electronics brand known for things like smartphones and tablets.

HomeKit is increasingly becoming a de facto standard, in part due to the popularity of iPhones and iPads but also Apple efforts to reduce development barriers. Aside from software authentication — permitting retroactive support for some accessories — Apple has also made it possible to build prototypes without Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad licensing, leaving that to the final certification process.