AppleInsider first broke the news of the removal of the entire doorbell category and it has sparked much debate across the internet. We’ve been getting emails with varying degrees of panic about it ever since.
As best as we can tell, this isn’t Apple discontinuing doorbells. More likely, they are just hiding a category that had no products in sight. We don’t think Apple is throwing the towel in on doorbells.
Before the removal, only one product was listed under doorbells, and that was August’s doorbell cam. Really, August and Ring are the only two prominent players pledging support for doorbells, and neither has yet to deliver.
There is no need for Apple to display an empty category, so they likely just removed it from the products page.
In fact, taking a gander at the main HomeKit landing page, the one that outlines what HomeKit is and how it works, you still see doorbells as a category. Plus, developer documentation still includes them.
In front of a crowd, as recently as WWDC18 this July Apple still made reference to them, even if no product had actually shipped with HomeKit compatibility.
Doorbells, theoretically, shouldn’t be that difficult for Apple to nail down in software. They are simply a button with an intercom and camera attached. All of those categories already have products shipping on the market and work well.
I’ve heard quite a few people speculating that Apple’s tight grip on security or the inability to minimize lag is to blame, but that doesn’t seem plausible. Locks, already a popular HomeKit product, should be a much higher cause for concern in my opinion than a simple doorbell. And when using a HomeKit camera, the intercom function has minimal lag as is.
We’ve yet to hear anything out of August or Ring, but both have been staunch supporters of HomeKit. August already includes support for HomeKit in their smart lock and went as far as to include the HomeKit logo on the side of the doorbell camera’s retail box. Ring has continued to say HomeKit is coming down the pipe, including after their acquisition by Amazon.
Since the doorbell category was removed, Apple has updated the HomeKit accessories page four separate times, adding new products as they hit the market, while still keeping doorbells in the ether.
Fact is, doorbells are not going away. They work now with the apps that they shipped with. That doesn’t change, nor do the doorbells light on fire because the category was removed from the HomeKit page.
They are still coming down the pipeline and we expect more updates later this year as companies like Ring and August move towards an actual release. Apple has been notoriously slow with these HomeKit categories with devices taking ages to come to market. We actually just saw the first sprinklers and faucets hitting store shelves after being announced more than a year ago.
So don’t panic, HomeKit doorbells will be here soon enough.