The unlikely twins: HomeKit vs. Brillo, similar features, different personalities

July 6, 2015 OpenSystems Media

The battle for technological dominance between Apple and Google is no news. Both companies offer products and services in the same market with similar features. Inevitably, their supporters turn out to be more like sports fans rallying in the Moscone Center for their favorite team. Much of the feud between the Apple and Google surrounds interconnection and network technology: pay programs, “wallet” applications, proactive assistants, and, most interestingly, their own API platforms for the Internet of Things (HomeKit and Brillo, respectively).

Not surprisingly, much like iOS and Android, HomeKit and Brillo initially appear to have a lot in common. For example:

  • Both systems are solutions to the lack of interoperability between devices from different companies. With the growing home automation market, it is necessary for companies to work together to make sure their products work together as well.
  • Voice control is another big similarity between the two platforms. While Apple iPhone users are already comfortable commanding and asking for help from Siri, Google Brillo users will also be finding a lot of purpose for this technology.
  • Both HomeKit and Brillo are using existing protocols such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and neither requires the use of a hub or gateway to connect and communicate with its platform’s smart home devices.
  • Finally, there is still a lot we don’t know about both smart home platforms. Will they each have a central app? How much control will Apple and Google have over app developers? etc.

Despite all the similarities, there are some major differences. First off, the Apple and Google platforms look much different, and user experience changes based on whether they are using a Google or an Apple device. However, there remains an even more fundamental difference in the approach of these two companies: data sharing and personalization.

Apple set the stance at WWDC that information about a person (email address, location, search history, etc.) should stay local on the device, and will on the new iOS. This strategy was used to pronounce the criticisms Google has taken for their willingness to hound data, erring on the side of privacy infringement for the purpose of creating an ultra-personalized experience.

This is the cardinal difference between the two companies’ approaches. Google aims to create the most tailored experience possible for the user by linking information across devices. Apple presses the necessity for personal privacy, limiting the data sharing power to the iPhone hub. Today, these efforts don’t seem much different in effect, but as the IoT continues to expand and reach more devices, these strategies may show to be the tipping point in interoperability and the network of data.

Adam Justice is vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, a manufacturer and distributor of the ConnectSense product line of wireless sensors.

Adam Justice, Grid Connect
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