Want to start using Apple's HomeKit home automation for iPhone and iPad? Here's everything you need to know!
If you've just picked up a new HomeKi accessory, congratulations! You're taking your home one step into the shiny retro future only science fiction could properly paint. (Mostly, controlling things with Siri is just plain fun.) Because the world of connected accessories can seem scary and a bit daunting at times, we figured we'd help take you on a tour of making the most of your HomeKit life.
How HomeKit works
Say you buy Elgato's Eve Room, a HomeKit accessory that lets you know a room's temperature along with air quality and the like. After you perform an initial setup process, Apple's HomeKit framework securely communicates with the accessory to bring you updates in-app and over Siri about the room's temperature, humidity, air quality, and more.
Read more about how HomeKit operates here:
Should you use HomeKit?
Ah, the number one question with a bullet: Is Apple's home automation service worth creating a home of the future around?
After four months with HomeKit, I can say that while I love it, it's definitely not perfect: HomeKit accessories only just started arriving in 2015, and the framework is just two years old. As such, there are still plenty of bugs to be fixed and kinks to work out in the system. Siri doesn't always work; Bluetooth-based accessories can't update without a device nearby to check their status; and Wi-Fi based accessories all require different bridges—which leads to a lot of bridges in your network room.
Would I use HomeKit to run my door locks? Not yet—it's still a little too finicky for my taste. But for lights, plugs, and thermostats, the service is great. When HomeKit does work, it's downright magical, and when it doesn't, well... the accessories I mentioned above also all have manual control options. So it doesn't outright break anything; you just go back to living in the status quo switch world of before. Four months in, I have around 85 percent reliability with my HomeKit devices, and I'm only seeing Siri's response rate and connectivity increase as time goes on.
Is HomeKit worth it if you're willing to suffer the occasional early adopter bug? Absolutely. Considering that you can pick up a HomeKit-enabled plug for just $30 to start your collection, there's no huge monetary buy-in; Apple's emphasis on the security aspect also elevates the home automation service above fellow competitors like Wink and WeMo. And recent support from longtime home automation players like Philips Hue makes it even easier to drop some cash to play in the HomeKit ecosystem.
Ultimately, it'll still be a few years before I think we'll see HomeKit really grab mass attention, but it's a ripe playground for early adoption and experimentation. Scenes let you set up complex actions, triggerable by a phrase to Siri; Triggers offer even more control, letting you set up action- and time-based events so that you have to do as little fiddling with switches and Siri as possible.
For me, HomeKit is a blast—even with the occasional bug or two—and I can't wait to see where it's going in the future.
HomeKit accessories: What's available and our reviews
Interested in outfitting your home with HomeKit but don't know what to buy? Here are some links to currently-available HomeKit items along with our reviews.
- Here are all the HomeKit devices you can buy
- Apple's list of HomeKit-approved devices
- Review: Philips Hue Lights
How to set up your HomeKit accessories
Once you've gotten a HomeKit accessory or two, you'll want to set them up with your house. Here's our complete guide to hooking your accessories up to HomeKit; adding rooms, zones, and scenes; and sharing your HomeKit access with guests and family members.
- How to set up your accessories with HomeKit
- How to add rooms, zones, and scenes to your HomeKit house
- How to share HomeKit access with other people, guests, or housemates
How to control your HomeKit accessories with apps and Siri
The best part of Apple's HomeKit framework is being able to control all your apps in one place. Here's how you can use Siri and third-party apps to truly become the master of your HomeKit house.
- How to use Siri with your HomeKit accessories
- The Home app is the program Apple should have shipped with HomeKit
How to access your HomeKit accessories outside of your home
Want to change your lights while you're on vacation? Here's what you need to know about HomeKit and remote access.
Having trouble setting up your HomeKit system? Here's our full list of troubleshooting tips and recommendations.
- How to transfer your old Hue lights to your new HomeKit bridge
- How to troubleshoot your HomeKit accessories
More helpful HomeKit links
If you still have questions about HomeKit or want to chat with some fellow HomeKit owners, check out our HomeKit forums and our other HomeKit articles!