If you own an iPhone, you might have wondered what the “Home” app with the little orange house is for. The app is for controlling all your HomeKit devices right from your phone. These devices give you the ability to automate certain parts of your home, or make them “smart”. Basically, this means you can control things right from your phone instead of doing it manually. Let us help you learn how to get started with Apple HomeKit.
How to get started with Apple HomeKit
By buying certain accessories for your home, you can use the platform to control them. These accessories, according to Apple’s website, include light bulbs, thermostats, door locks, plugs, video cameras, and a variety of other things.
The platform was created and is maintained by Apple, and it’s a new and innovative way to create your ideal “smart home”. One of the standout features is that the entire setup is wireless, so you won’t find yourself cluttering up your home with more wires. We’ve seen some of the early “smart home” models, and it’s far too many wires for our taste.
To simplify how it works, it’s essentially a bunch of code that HomeKit developers use in their apps and hardware products. This ensures that there is a high level of uniformity across everything involved and allows for super easy setup and access from all your linked devices, like iPhones and iPads. You can even assign permissions to people outside of your personal devices.
Another interesting feature is that you can use Siri to control them. While it still might seem sort of strange to talk to your phone, it’s handy to be able to let Siri know to turn off all the lights in your house.
HomeKit devices connect by both WiFi and Bluetooth, so if your internet isn’t always fast, you might be able to get away with a Bluetooth version of the product you’re looking for. If you’re popping over to your local hardware store to pick up smart home devices, you need to be careful of which you pick. Make sure your purchase has a “Works with Apple HomeKit” sticker to be compatible with the app.
How should you setup Apple Home?
There are three different ways to use HomeKit. After purchasing your home accessory, the first way is simple. All you have to do is plug in the accessory, plug it in, and scan the HomeKit ID number. You can label the device in your Home app and control it this way.
It’s easy enough, but it’s limiting because you can only access the accessory when you’re connected to your home network. This means you can’t access it when you aren’t at home. You can buy accessories like the iHome iSP8, but then you have to sign up for a service outside of what Apple has already provided you with.
How to setup Apple Home with remote access
There is a solution that allows you to access the device when you are outside of your home. It requires you to have either an iPad or Apple TV, and you should make sure to check if they are compatible with the device you buy, as some aren’t.
You can turn your iPad into your smart home command panel. With this setup, you can access all your accessories outside of your home network. This is especially useful when you want to make sure devices are on, such as video-based devices like the D-Link Omna.
As long as the iPad stays at home, you can connect your devices and check on things through your phone. The downside is that if you do need to take your iPad out of your house, you lose remote access capability. Using this setup is best if you frequently leave your iPad at home, and don’t have young kids who like to bring it on the road to play games.
The final remote setup is to direct HomeKit accessories through your Apple TV. This ensures you’ll always have access to your devices, because you generally won’t be taking your Apple TV outside of your home. It acts as another way to set up a command center that you can then access through your phone.
The Apple TV route is definitely better if you want to take your iPad out of your home, but you might not want to invest in an Apple TV. Use whichever one best suits you!
Apple HomeKit examples
We’ve been using several HomeKit accessories to see how “smart” our house can get. For more examples, check out our tips & tricks section for Apple Home.
The first device we tested out was the Koogeek plug, which we stuck into one of our main power bars in our work space. We also tried the iDevices Switch in the living room and set them to turn off every night. This minimizes the amount of phantom power that our devices draw when we aren’t using them, costing us money. These switches helped reduce this and stopped us from unplugging everything every night.
We also tested out a smart night light, which can act as a natural alarm clock by mimicking the sun. Instead of springing awake to the sound of your iPhone honking at you, the night light comes on gradually at the time you want to get up.
There are just a couple of the many applications of smart home devices. Again, check out our tips & tricks section for more info!
That’s how to get started with Apple HomeKit. If you found this post helpful, considering checking out our links for smart home devices. If you have any more questions or comments, leave a comment below!