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HomeKit is Apple's home automation framework that lets you control connected accessories from your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, and Siri.

Your home at your command.

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.

The best ways to add HomeKit support to your garage door in 2024

Upgrading your HomeKit lifestyle with a smart garage door is one of the best changes you can make. For a long time, MyQ was an easy recommendation for people looking to easily turn their existing garage door into a HomeKit garage door. Chamberlin, the company behind the MyQ platform, discontinued its HomeKit accessory last year and recently even further cracked down on access to the MyQ platform.

Thankfully, there are other ways to bring HomeKit capability to your garage door without too much work. Here are some of my favorites…

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HomeKit Weekly: Eve Aqua is a must-have HomeKit accessory for summer watering season

Eve Aqua

It’s that magical time of year when the sun is shining, the grass is growing, and flowers bloom. It’s almost time for near-perfect weather. Spring generally brings plenty of showers as well. It won’t be long until it’s the dog days of summer where it’s 95 degrees, full sun, and not a raindrop in sight, though. I’ve generally opposed professionally installed irrigation systems because of the maintenance, though. I’ve long enjoyed the Eve Aqua, a way to deploy a maintenance-free and HomeKit-enabled sprinkler system quickly.

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HomeKit Weekly: Aqara delivers new Matter and HomeKit-compatible smart ceiling light

Aqara Smart Ceiling Light

Aqara makes some really fantastic smart home (that are usually HomeKit compatible) accessories at really incredible prices. Last year, they launched the Aqara Smart Lock U100 with Home Key support. They’ve long supported HomeKit and, more recently, Matter. This week, Aqara introduced a new HomeKit/Matter-compatible Smart Ceiling Light.

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HomeKit Weekly: Sylvania’s low-cost HomeKit bulb makes it possible to upgrade all of your lights without taking out a HELOC

SYLVANIA SMART+ Bluetooth Soft White A19 LED Bulb

There are countless options for HomeKit native bulbs that you can buy to transform how your smart home operates completely. The problem for many people is that when you’re looking to change your entire home from traditional bulbs to HomeKit bulbs, it can get pricey in a hurry. Options like Philips Hue are fantastic, but they’re more costly. What if there was an option for a low cost bulb that worked great with HomeKit? That’s what I’ve found in the SYLVANIA SMART+ Bluetooth Soft White A19 LED Bulb. It’s HomeKit compatible at a price that isn’t that much higher than normal LED bulbs.

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HomeKit Weekly: Logitech Circle View continues to be one of the best outdoor HomeKit cameras

Logitech Circle View

I recently took a fresh look at Eve’s indoor HomeKit camera, and it inspired me to get my trusty Logitech Circle View camera and see how it continues to stack up against the competition. Circle View offers a straightforward, motion-triggered home security camera solution, avoiding constant video recording. It boasts a robust, weather-resistant design with an IP64 rating.

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HomeKit Weekly: It’s time for Apple to address the shortcomings of HomeKit Secure Video

Eve Cam

HomeKit Secure Video was launched by Apple in 2019. It was introduced as part of the iOS 13 update, enhancing HomeKit with secure video capabilities designed for better privacy and security in home surveillance. Although a few updates have been seen since then, not much has changed. It’s time for Apple to double down on its commitment to secure smart home camera storage to work with cameras the Eve Outdoor Cam and Logitech Circle View.

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HomeKit Weekly: TP-Link Tapo 2K proves to be a top-tier indoor HomeKit camera

TP-Link Tapo 2K

It’s been a while since I’ve found a fantastic new indoor HomeKit camera, but the TP-Link Tapo 2K is proving to be an excellent option. With support for local recording over an SD card, HomeKit Secure Video, and TP-Link’s cloud service, there are plenty of options to choose this camera for indoor recording needs. One thing I especially want to call out: it supports Wi-Fi 6!

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HomeKit Weekly: Onvis Smart Motion Sensor automates your house based on motion with temperature tracking

Onvis Smart Motion Sensor

Onvis is up there as one of the most reliable HomeKit vendors around. They make quality products and are typically among the first to use new technology like Thread. I recently picked up the new Onvis Smart Motion Sensor to automate some of our living room lights while tracking the temperature.

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Eve announces new Eve Energy Outlet (now shipping), Eve Light Switch, and Eve Blinds with Matter support

Eve Outlet

Update: The Eve Energy Outlet is now shipping. It can be purchased from Amazon or the Eve Store. The Eve Energy Outlet will replace your traditional wall outlet with one that has Matter built in. It will allow you to individually control two power outlets using your Siri, the Home app, or as part of HomeKit automation.s

Eve, a popular HomeKit vendor, has announced three new products ahead of CES 2024. Today, it’s announcing that Eve Energy Outlet, Eve Light Switch, and Eve Blinds are all coming to the Eve Store and Amazon in 2024.

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HomeKit Weekly: SwitchBot curtains gain Matter support and now work with HomeKit

SwitchBot Curtain Opener

SwitchBot is a unique smart home vendor that has made various pretty amazing products over the years. The SwitchBot Button pusher is a prime example of a relatively uncommon item with no alternative from another vendor. What powers the SwitchBot experience is the SwitchBot Hub 2. With Matter support, it comes to HomeKit, and you can now use the Switch Curtain Opener with HomeKit.

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HomeKit Weekly: CozyLife smart plugs bridge the gap with ‘dumb devices’

CozyLife homeKit

HomeKit smart plugs are generally the first step new users take on their smart home journey. Nearly everyone has a lamp, coffee maker, or other home appliance they want to “HomeKitify” (yes, I just created a new word), and a smart plug is the easiest, fastest, and least expensive way to do that. I’ve had the CozyLife HomeKit plug in my box of items to test for a while now, but frankly, it’s so small, that it was hidden under another box.

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HomeKit Weekly: Homey Pro now works with Matter-over-Thread devices, including Eve, Nanoleaf, and more

Homey Pro

Last week, I ran through the Homey Pro, and I think it’s a fantastic device and ecosystem. Suppose you’ve gotten into where you want HomeKit to do more than it can functionally. In that case, I think it’s a great ecosystem to invest in as you can continue using all of your HomeKit devices, but now you can start to build an ecosystem outside of it. Today, Homey is announcing that the Homey Pro can now download a free software update that enables its built-in Thread radio. Through the update, Matter-over-Thread devices can be directly connected to Homey Pro without needing a secondary Thread Border Router.

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HomeKit Weekly: Yeelight Cube Clock Kit lets you build your own retro display with Matter support

Yeelight Cube Clock

I have become a massive fan of all things retro in recent years. I love the Tidbyt clock. I am ready for Apple to bring the iPod back. Old stuff is back. I’ve recently been testing a really fun Tidbyt alternative with HomeKit support. It doesn’t have nearly the same amount of third-party app options, but it’s still a great desk accessory. I am looking at the Yeelight Cube Clock Kit this week.

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Starling Home Hub

Starling Home Hub 14.2 brings dramatically improved HomeKit quality for first-generation Nest cameras

Starling Home Hub is the perfect device for people who love Google cameras but want to leverage HomeKit. I’ve been using it since early 2020, and it’s continually improved. The most recent 14.2 firmware update brings another nice update for Google Camera users, including improved quality for first-generation Nest cameras.

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