HomeKit Overview Updated July 1, 2022


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776 'HomeKit' stories

June 2014 - July 2022

What is HomeKit / Apple Home?

Along with several other new APIs for developers, Apple announced HomeKit in June 2014, which allows all home automation accessories/devices to work together in harmony with iOS. The API allows home automation developers to centralize all home automation without needing separate apps to access each device’s specific features. These devices include locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more.

HomeKit allows for secure pairing with devices and the ability to control individual devices. It also makes it possible to group several home automation devices into scenes that allow for easier control of any automation device in specific situations. One of the coolest features available with HomeKit is the ability to control any home automation accessory with Siri based on certain commands or scenes previously configured with these devices.

In 2016, Apple introduced a new Home app that came with a modern look, relatively easy-to-use controls, and access to accessories and scenes from anywhere on iOS 10. Apple’s new built-in Home app arrived on the iPhone’s Home screen, plus you can access a ton of functions from the Lock screen or anywhere on iOS from the new Control Center once you have a HomeKit accessory set up.

In 2018, Apple released the HomePod. It was a way to interact with your connected home devices through Siri using a standalone device.

In 2020, Apple announced that tvOS 14 would gain access to the Home app. iOS 14 is also bringing improvement to the Home app UI.

HomeKit Secure Video

With iOS 13, Apple announced HomeKit Secure Video.

Footage from home security cameras contains your most personal and sensitive data. With HomeKit Secure Video, activity detected by supported cameras is privately analyzed by your home hub using on‑device intelligence to determine if people, pets, or cars are present. When important activity is detected, you and anyone you share your Home app with will receive a rich notification that lets you view the clip right from the Lock Screen. Recorded video is available to view for ten days from the Home app. It’s securely stored for free in supported iCloud accounts and doesn’t count against your storage limit.

While the rollout has been slow, Logitech, Arlo, Netatmo, and Eufy are among the early standouts. With recent privacy issues with Ring, HomeKit Secure Video is likely to continue to grow in popularity. One key benefit with Secure Video is that it works with your existing iCloud storage (200GB and up plan), so you don’t have an extra monthly fee for storage.

HomeKit Router

HomeKit Router was also announced with iOS 13, but it wasn’t released until early 2020. The idea behind the feature is you can give granular control to smart home enabled devices to control where on the internet they can reach.

eero was the first company to roll out support in for HomeKit Router.

With Apple HomeKit, eero gives you even more protection of your HomeKit accessories and an easy way to manage what they are allowed to communicate with in your home and through the internet.

There are three levels of security Apple offers for accessories paired with HomeKit routers:

  • Restrict to Home: Most secure. Your accessory can interact only with HomeKit through your Apple devices. The accessory won’t connect to the Internet or any local devices, so any third-party services, like firmware updates, might be blocked.
  • Automatic: Default security. Your accessory can communicate with HomeKit and connections recommended by its manufacturer.
  • No Restriction: Least secure. This setting bypasses the secure router and allows your accessory to interact with any device in your network or Internet-based service.

How Do You Use HomeKit?

Homekit app

HomeKit devices can be controlled from iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, and HomePod. A 4th generation Apple TV (or newer) is an essential Apple smart home device as it acts as a bridge over iCloud to allow access to your devices when away from home.

9to5Mac’s Bradley Chambers does a regular column about the “Apple Home” lifestyle in his HomeKit Weekly column.

Popular Reviews

HomeKit Stories July 1

In May, I said that a redesigned Home app was on my iOS 16 wishlist, and WWDC did not disappoint. HomeKit is set to get a major upgrade with iOS 16, including an all-new Home app, lock screen widgets, new Home key vendors, deeper Matter support, and more. Let’s look at what’s new coming with iOS 16’s HomeKit upgrades.

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HomeKit Stories June 28

The Home app gets lots of attention in iOS 16 with a fully refreshed design. Additions and changes in the overhauled experience include a new UI and iconography, customizable sections, fresh wallpapers, a more seamless experience, and more.

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HomeKit Stories June 27

Philips Hue bulbs are one of the easiest ways to give your existing light fixtures smart home capabilities, including through Apple’s HomeKit platform. The problem with Philips Hue switches is that whenever a wall light switch is flipped off, the smart lights become unresponsive. The Lutron Aurora dimmer is a simple yet ingenious way to solve this problem.

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HomeKit Stories June 24

I am officially moved out of my house into temporary living quarters while our new house is finished up. My Home app is in chaos as almost everything is offline. I am slowly getting a few essential HomeKit items back up and running in our temporary spot. However, one of the items I sold with the house was my beloved eufyCam Pro. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I am switching to the Nest Cam with Floodlight for the new house due to a continuous recording option. As I said goodbye to it, I want to give my parting thoughts for one of the best outdoor HomeKit camera options.

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HomeKit Stories June 21

Following the launch of its No-Neutral HomeKit Switch and Dimmer lineup launched in May, Leviton is out with its latest HomeKit accessory, the Decora Smart Wi-Fi 2nd Gen Scene Controller Switch. The new 4 button switch gives simple one-touch control of HomeKit scenes and multiple smart lights and other devices.

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Signify has announced a wide array of new Philips Hue lighting products to its ever-growing range, as well as a new switch designed to make it easy to dim lights and select scenes.

Additionally, the Hue app has been updated to offer a new Sunrise option to smart home owners, allowing existing color lights to mimick the colors of a sunrise to gently wake you in the morning …

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HomeKit Stories June 19

Starling Home Hub firmware update brings virtual temperature sensors to HomeKit using Nest’s weather service

For people that dabble between Google and Apple’s smart home platforms, Starling Home Hub is a must-have on your home network. Once installed, every single Nest and Google Home device you have are accessible in HomeKit. I’ve been using the product for a few years, and it’s received continuous updates to add new features at no additional cost. Today, version 11.4 of the Starling Home Hub is adding support for virtual weather sensors in HomeKit.

HomeKit Stories June 18

If you’re starting from scratch with HomeKit, it can look expensive to get started. There are so many devices with different features that you might be concerned about what to buy. However, if you’re new to HomeKit, I’ve got the perfect device to start with: a switched outlet. I recently tested a new low-cost HomeKit compatible outlet adaptor that is less than $20 for a two-pack, and it’s the perfect way to get started with HomeKit.

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HomeKit Stories June 10

As I’ve mentioned a few times, my family is in the process of building a home, so I’ve documented some of my HomeKit plans in previous articles. For the moment, I am debt-free since we’ve sold our current home, but our new house won’t be finished until October.

We’re in the final days of this home, so we’re moving into a temporary living situation for the summer. So many HomeKit products and projects assume you’re the homeowner and can easily mount items, drill home, etc. Today, I want to consider some beneficial HomeKit setups for renters.

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HomeKit Stories June 8

Apple has put a renewed emphasis on HomeKit this year with iOS 16, bringing a completely redesigned Home app ahead of the looming Matter standard launch. One key aspect of HomeKit is having a home hub, which allows for features like out-of-home control, automations, and more.

Apple has traditionally allowed HomePod, Apple TV, and iPad devices to serve as home hubs. With the release of iOS and iPadOS 16 this year, however, iPads will no longer be supported as home hubs.

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HomeKit Stories June 3

I’ve written about the home-building process a few times in the past. There’s something refreshing about “starting from scratch” with your home and deciding everything fresh. There’s also a benefit to rethinking the role of smart home technology in your life. How much is too much? Would it be easier to use a light switch here vs. a smart bulb? Do I really need that many cameras? For the next iteration of my smart home diary section of HomeKit Weekly, I want to explain why I picked a brand of cameras I never thought I’d go with a few months back. Let’s look at how I ended up choosing the Nest Cam with Floodlight for my outdoor cameras.

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HomeKit Stories May 31

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of smart home tech. But there’s a trend we’re increasingly seeing with this and other technology where we never fully own the product.

That’s true in a couple of ways, and there’s both an upside and downside to that – each illustrated by a different story I spotted this morning …

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HomeKit Stories May 27

Smart home lighting is one of the key use cases for any smart home platform. There’s nothing that makes you feel like you’re living in the age of The Jetsons than having lights automatically come on and off based on motion control and voice assistants. The Philips Hue Go light is a worthy addition to your HomeKit environment if you want a portable light for an outdoor area.

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HomeKit Stories May 25

IKEA has launched a number of smart home products over the last eight years including blinds, lights, and more powered by its HomeKit-compatible TRÅDFRI gateway. Now the company has announced it has an all-new smart home hub with Matter support plus a redesigned “Home” app on the way.

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HomeKit Stories May 20

It’s officially the time of year when I turn my focus to what will be announced at WWDC in June. The rumors are always rampant this time of year, and outside of some significant improvements to iMessage, I hope Apple spends a lot of time during the keynote showing off much-needed improvements to HomeKit. So let’s dive into what’s on my iOS 16 HomeKit wishlist.

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HomeKit Stories May 17

Eve’s HomeKit products have been some of my favorites for many years. Between products like the Eve Water Guard and the popular Thread enabled Eve Energy, its commitment to HomeKit has made it a fan favorite for people building a smart home around HomeKit. Today, Eve brings the Eve Outdoor Cam to the market with the first-ever floodlight with HomeKit Secure Video support.

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Popular smart home accessory maker Ecobee has officially taken the wraps off of two new smart thermostats joining its lineup today. The new Smart Thermostat Premium and Smart Thermostat Enhanced offer larger 4-inch displays, a completely redesigned interface, HomeKit integration, and more.

Head below for the full details on Ecobee’s new smart thermostat lineup, with some hands-on experience and notes as well..

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HomeKit Stories May 13

It’s getting close to summer and summer traveling here in the U.S., and I was recently reminded how beneficial remote access to your smart home accessories could be. So this week, I want to explain how to get access to your devices when away from home and the potential use cases.

HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

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HomeKit Stories May 6

Ring promised HomeKit support many years ago but hasn’t come through with that promise. At this point, it looks less and less likely that it’ll ever happen. If you’re firmly in the Ring ecosystem, but want to enjoy some of the benefits of HomeKit. All you’ll need to add is a computer running Homebridge, and you can integrate Ring into HomeKit for free. My favorite way to use Homebridge is HOOBS. Let’s dive into how to add Ring devices to HomeKit.

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HomeKit Stories May 2

Leviton is out today with five new smart home products under its Decora line. Headlining the release is a neat way to bring HomeKit-enabled smart lighting to older homes with the Decora Smart No-Neutral Switch, Dimmer, and required WiFi Bridge.

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HomeKit Stories April 27

Aqara products have been an integral part of my HomeKit setup for nearly two years. With a competitive entry price and a range of accessories that are compatible with HomeKit, it’s the ideal way to start your smart home journey without breaking the beak. A new Aqara motion sensor is now available, and I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few weeks testing it in my home.

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HomeKit Stories April 26

HomeKit’s ecosystem is fantastic, but the directly compatible devices can get expensive – especially if you already have incompatible devices at home that you need to replace. $25 for a smart plug, $40 for a door sensor – it really adds up quickly. There are plenty of other smart home devices available on Amazon, from $6 smart plugs to $25 cameras, outside the HomeKit ecosystem. Thankfully, many of these otherwise unsupported devices can be brought into HomeKit with the use of Homebridge software.

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HomeKit Stories April 25

Last fall Nanoleaf launched its latest HomeKit smart lights, the modular Lines. They feature an all-new form factor that makes it easy to create a custom aesthetic for your home, office, or any other space. Now the company has released slick matte black skin covers (matte pink too) to easily transform the white exterior of the lights.

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HomeKit Stories April 22

Making it easier to work to control my HomeKit accessories is something I am always thinking about. As easy as using the Home app on my iPhone is or turning items off and on with Siri, sometimes you want to make it even easier – especially for guests and non-smart home fans. You could certainly use the Brilliant panel, but what if you want something a bit easier to install? For example, have you considered an old iPad mounted on the wall? Read on to see how easier it is to configure so it can only work in the Home app.

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