HomeKit Overview Updated January 21, 2022


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732 'HomeKit' stories

June 2014 - January 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 January 21

I’ve joked that if I were “super-rich,” that I’d love to hire someone whose only job would be to hand me a large cup of coffee as soon as I walked out of my bedroom. HomeKit hasn’t let me do that, but it’s getting me close. Read on to learn how I automated my morning coffee based on when motion is detected by my bedroom door using HomeKit, HOOBS, and Switchbot. Read on to learn how to implement, what gear you’ll need, and how to configure in HomeKit.

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HomeKit Stories January 16

Eve Cam review: a simple and small HomeKit camera

The Eve Cam is a simple indoor camera for HomeKit and HomeKit Secure Video. By relying on HomeKit alone, there’s no extra subscription to pay for and no complicated third-party service to maintain. It (almost) all just works, all using Eve’s device and Apple’s apps and OS integrations. Read on for my full review.

HomeKit Stories January 14

I’ve been watching Twinkly as a product for the past year after learning about them through Shane Whatley’s YouTube channel. Previously, to work with HomeKit, you’d need to bridge them using a product like HOOBS. Late last year, however, native HomeKit support was added. You might think these items are only for Christmas, but they will be useful in all sorts of situations – not just Christmas lights.

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HomeKit Stories January 12

Apple has officially released iOS 15.2.1 and iPadOS 15.2.1, bringing bug fixes for CarPlay and Messages. In addition to those bug fixes, the update also includes a notable security update to patch a HomeKit vulnerability that could cause your iPhone or iPad to repeatedly crash.

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HomeKit Stories January 10

A new Netatmo Security Sensor aims to provide maximum compatibility in terms of both hardware and software.

On the hardware side, the device is two sensors in one, combining a door/window contact sensor with a motion detector …

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HomeKit Stories January 7

Now that winter is setting where I am located in the southern US, I began to brainstorm on ways I could automate the heating of my home using HomeKit. I already have smart thermostats (one from ecobee and one Nest bridged to HomeKit with Starling Home Hub). I like to use a space heater in my living room as we have vaulted ceilings, so we lose a lot of heating from the floor vents. While there are a handful of Wi-Fi-based space heaters, there were none native to HomeKit. As with anything HomeKit related, there’s usually a way through Homebridge, so that’s what I did.

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HomeKit Stories January 4

Alongside the new Wemo HomeKit Smart Video Doorbell, Belkin has unveiled that its Wemo Smart Plug, Smart Light Switch, and Smart Dimmer will be seeing an upgrade this year with Matter over Thread support. That will mean faster and more reliable connections with greater range for the HomeKit devices.

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Belkin is taking the next step with its Wemo portfolio of smart home accessories. At CES 2022 this week, the company has announced a new Wemo Smart Video Doorbell that is designed to work exclusively with HomeKit Secure Video. This marks the first time that Wemo has expanded its smart home lineup to include a home security accessory.

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Accessory maker TP-Link is expanding its lineup of smart home gadgets at CES 2022 to include an array of new HomeKit options. The company has announced multiple new HomeKit options under its Tapo brand, including smart lights, smart plugs, and a smart switch.

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As usual, HomeKit announcements are expected to be one of the biggest trends at CES this year. Today, home security company Schlage has announced an all-new Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt, and the company is going all in on Apple’s ecosystem with support for both HomeKit and home keys in the Apple Wallet application.

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HomeKit Stories January 3

A security researcher has exposed a vulnerability in Apple’s HomeKit platform that could lead to your iPhone (or anyone else with access to your Apple Home setup) becoming unusable. The bug was reported by security researcher Trevor Spiniolas, who detailed in a blog post that name of a HomeKit device being changed to something around 500,000 characters long is what causes the issues…

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Eve, one of the top HomeKit product manufacturers, is kicking off 2022 with multiple new product announcements. One of the new products is a new Eve Floodlight Outdoor Cam designed for Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video.

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HomeKit Stories December 31, 2021

Air filters are something that I believe should be in every home. Even in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the air is generally clean, there is a lot of pollen in the air at various points in the year. If you live in an area that’s seen consistent wildfires, you need a healthy supply of air filters even more than I do. There haven’t been many options for HomeKit-enabled air filters, though. Until recently, the only option was the VOCOlinc air filter. While I love this product, it has a large footprint, so it’s impractical for apartments or smaller bedrooms. I recently picked up the Meross HomeKit air filter for our bedroom, and it’s a great option if you need to filter the air in a smaller area.

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HomeKit Stories December 19, 2021

HomeKit’s ecosystem is fantastic, but the directly compatible devices can get expensive. $25 for a smart plug, $40 for a door sensor – it really adds up quickly. There are plenty of cheaper 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 December 17, 2021

A few weeks ago, 9to5Mac announced that the Aqara G3 camera was now available in the US. Sporting a 2K resolution, a low profile design, and HomeKit Secure Video, it can create the foundation for your smart home if you’re just getting started with HomeKit.

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Apple Wallet evolved with iOS 15 to include the ability to store keys for homes and hotels, with upgraded U1 support for the car key standard too. Now it looks like one of the first HomeKit smart locks to feature the NFC Apple home key support could be on the way.

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HomeKit Stories December 13, 2021

In April, I wrote a comment piece about what Apple products should gain the U1 chip. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t agree this year and the only new hardware that got its Ultra Wide Band chip was the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7.

Even though Apple is holding down control of this technology, a developer was able to build the ultimate smart home remote app that uses the iPhone’s U1 chip to control different smart home devices just by pointing at them.

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HomeKit Stories December 11, 2021

This app brings HomeKit widgets right to your iOS home screen

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing Home Widget for HomeKit, and it’s become an app that I’ve started to use daily. If you want quick access to all your HomeKit accessories without needing to launch the app or go to the control center, keep reading to learn more.

HomeKit Stories December 10, 2021

I’ve tested more HomeKit cameras over the years than I can likely remember. However, I recently had the opportunity to start using the Homam camera with HomeKit Secure Video support, and I can say without a doubt that it’s the best option if you want premium hardware with robust software outside of the Home app.

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HomeKit Stories December 7, 2021

Eve Room adds Thread radio to improve HomePod support and responsiveness over Wi-Fi

Eve Room has been a popular HomeKit product for many years, and a new version is now available that includes Thread support to improve its overall responsiveness over HomeKit and Wi-Fi.

HomeKit Stories December 3, 2021

If you’re looking for gift ideas for Apple fans in your life, HomeKit accessories make one of the best options because of how it natively works with your products, low cost, and multiple use options. So as you go shopping for the Apple fans in your life, here’s my round-up of the best HomeKit accessories for Christmas.

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HomeKit Stories November 29, 2021

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 November 26, 2021

Popular HomeKit smart light maker Nanoleaf is out today with an all-new product. The Lines HomeKit-enabled modular lights are a totally new form factor from Nanoleaf and feature a slick aesthetic for your home, office, or any space you can think of. We got a chance to test out Lines ahead of today’s pre-order launch, read on for all the details.

Update 11/26: The Nanoleaf Lines are now shipping.

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It seems like just yesterday we were all relishing the end of 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. Now, 2021 is nearing its end, and many of us are preparing to enjoy the Christmas season. Adding HomeKit support to my Christmas decorations was my first introduction to HomeKit, so it’s only fitting that we kick off the season with my official guide to automating your Christmas decorations.

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