Apple HomeKit is a better smart home platform than you think. Here's why

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A friend of mine recently asked why I don't write more stories about Apple HomeKit. Every story, he said, seems like it's about Alexa or Google Assistant, and he's not far off base. Amazon and Google certainly steal headlines, especially when they announce partnerships with thousands of brands or new voices from celebrities like John Legend or Samuel L. Jackson. But voice assistants alone are poor measures of a home's intelligence, no matter who they sound like.
The competition for the best smart home platform doesn't have a clear winner at this point, and each contender has serious problems. But Apple's HomeKit platform has cast a vision of the smart home that is uniquely different from Amazon's and Google's: it's a visionless concerned with capturing coverage and racing for countertop real estate, and more concerned with reliability and security.
In short, I'm finding myself being tempted more and more by Apple.

Cutting out Apple's rotten bits

Before diving into why I think HomeKit is the best smart home platform right now, I want to point out the most glaring issues with Apple's ecosystem. The first and most important problem with HomeKit is its lack of a budget smart speaker like the $50 Echo Dot and Nest Mini. Voice assistants are part of what makes smart devices so easy to use around the house, and a centralized smart speaker solves the problems posed by different family members using Siri on their iPhones, or not having iPhones at all. 
Apple's HomePod is an unconscionable $300, which makes HomeKit unattractive for households where not everyone has an iPhone of their own. And even if everyone has an iPhone, you still have to set up a shared account, which (last time I tried) was a pain in the butt.
Another alleged problem with HomeKit is its closed-garden approach to partnerships, which has left it with a few dozen product integrations to Google's and Amazon's thousands. I will argue below, however, that this is less of a problem than it seems at first.
Some people may also point out Apple's reputation for wringing money from its customers by switching up its chargers and requiring new dongles, artificially degrading its own hardware (arguably to encourage people to upgrade) and simply charging exorbitant prices for its products. I share concerns about all these issues, but given Google's and Amazon's recent privacy records, I'd say Apple doesn't stand out to me as uniquely unethical in a Wild West of an industry.

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