From the Editor's Desk: How HomeKit makes my house a home

Hue light bulbs
Hue light bulbs (Image credit: Philips)

Ever since Apple introduced HomeKit and the Home app, I've been customizing the lighting in my house to work with my daily routine. These creature comforts have improved my piece of mind and frankly, made me feel like a princess in a sci-fi future.

In my bedroom, every morning I wake up to the iPhone's Bedtime alarm (the one that quietly comes on and then slowly gets louder). Along with it, I have an automation set to turn on my bedroom light at a dim level and then slowly get brighter over time.

At 8:00 AM, all of the lights go off except the one in my office. I love this automation because I often forget to turn off the bedroom or kitchen lights when I'm getting ready for work in the morning.

If any lights are on when I leave the house, they go off when I leave, thanks to location automation. And, if I come home after sunset, some (but not all) of them turn back on to give me a little lighting when I open the front door.

If I'm home when the sun sets and I'm not in the living room, those lights turn on to give the house a bit of life, even if I'm still closed up in my office.

If I go on vacation, I've got a few automations set up to make it look like I'm still home by turning on and off lights at varying intervals.

In addition to these daily automations, I have a few Siri Shortcut recipes for immediate actions.

If I take a nap, I call out to Siri, "Naptime!" and all of the house lights turn off. Additionally, my iPhone sets to Do Not Disturb for one hour and it sets a 30-minute timer (30-minute naps are the best!).

When I'm settling in with popcorn and a movie, my "Movietime" Shortcut will turn the living room lights blue and dim them. At bedtime, I can shut off all the lights in the house with a single "Bedtime" Shortcut.

Around the holidays, I have all of my Christmas lights plugged into smart plugs with HomeKit support. My Shortcut allows me to ask Siri to "Turn on Christmas" when I need a little festivity. My scheduled automation also automatically turn the Christmas lights on at night and off before I go to bed.

Smart home gadgets and the automations that can be created with them are the future I never knew I wanted but am so glad to have.

I'm able to schedule these automations and trigger these actions thanks to HomeKit. Smart home products aren't exclusive to Apple and there are even more of them out there that work with Alexa, but I prefer using HomeKit products because I'm fairly confident that Apple isn't using data it's collected from my lighting routines to market to me. Whatever your preference; HomeKit, Google Home, or Alexa, smart home gadgets and the automations that can be created with them are the future I never knew I wanted but am so glad to have.

My next smart home purchases will include a thermostat (I'm going with the Ecobee 5) and a garage door opener (the Chamberlain MyQ. I've considered a HomeKit connected smart lock, but my landlord is big on original hardware on the house and wouldn't be too happy if I switched out the antique locks for something that beeps and blinks (you should see how confused he looks when he has to use my Ring doorbell).

At this point, most people have probably at least dabbled with smart home conveniences (pro tip: If you want to give someone a smart home present, get them a smart plug. It's the gateway gadget to more advanced smart home products). When I was younger and imagined the future, I pictured flying cars and teleporters, video screen walls (thank you Space Balls) and bioimplants. I didn't stop to think about things like lighting and how something so simple could make such an improvement in my daily life.

If you're interested in learning more about HomeKit, check out our guide.

HomeKit: The ultimate guide

If you're wondering what next smart home gadget you should get, we've got a few suggestions we think you'll like.

Happy smart home shopping!


Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).