More on Apple: HomeKit, 3rd-party keyboards, Touch ID, widgets

|About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)|By:, SA News Editor

Apple's (AAPL -1.2%) reported home automation platform has been unveiled. Called HomeKit, the platform acts as "a common network protocol" for 3rd-party hardware/chips that can be managed by iDevices - initial supporters include Broadcom, Cree, TI, Philips, Honeywell, and Haier.

HomeKit also integrates with Siri - saying "Get ready for bed" can result in a connected house automatically locking its doors and dimming its lights.

Apple promises iOS 8 will deliver major GPU performance enhancements, such as a 10x increase in draw-call rates. Electronic Arts (EA -1.9%) is bringing its powerful Frostbite engine to the platform.

For the first time, iOS will support 3rd-party keyboards. Swype owner Nuance (NUAN) has ticked slightly higher in response. The OS will also add support for inter-app communications, a feature long requested by developers.

Also: 1) Siri now has a Google Now-like always-on mode. Saying "Hey, Siri" activates the service. 2) The Touch ID fingerprint sensor has been opened up to 3rd-party apps. 3) Like Yosemite, iOS 8 supports 3rd-party Notification Center widgets.

As expected, iOS 8 will launch to consumers in the fall (likely in tandem with the iPhone 6).

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Previous coverage: Mac OS Yosemite, iOS 8