HomeKit router support, announced back in June at Apple's annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), has finally arrived! The feature, which is currently available for select models of Eero routers, puts you in command of your network traffic when it comes to HomeKit devices. Here is everything that you need to know about this impressive new feature.
What are HomeKit Routers?
HomeKit support for routers enables access to enhanced privacy controls for your HomeKit devices. With new settings added to the Home app on iOS and macOS, you can restrict your network traffic to keep things private and local.
You can make your smart home more secure by allowing a compatible router to control which services your HomeKit devices can communicate with in your home Wi-Fi network and on the internet.
What's so great about that?
Preventing your HomeKit devices from accessing the internet can help to avoid attacks from outside sources, and from spreading around to other accessories in your home.
HomeKit routers can firewall off each of your accessories so even if one were to be compromised, it wouldn't be able to access your other devices or personal information.
You can restrict accessories to only Apple approved services, such as accessing a specific server that enables you to control your accessories while on the go, or you can also completely block your HomeKit accessory from ever accessing the internet.
What are all of the controls that I will have access to?
The following controls are available within the Home app:
- Restrict to Home: Only allow connections to your home hub. This may block firmware updates or other services.
- Automatic: Allow connections with an automatically-updated list of manufacturer-approved internet services and local devices.
- No Restriction: Allow conncetions with any internet service or local device. This provides the lowest level of security.
Can I see how my HomeKit devices access the internet in the Home app?
This depends entirely on the accessory. In the Home app, some accessories will have a list of services or servers that they communicate with in the Wi-Fi Network & Routers section of the Home app. Logitech Circle 2 Cameras, ecobee Thermostats, and the Philips Hue Bridge, are just some of the accessories that will display their services information.
If I block internet access, will my HomeKit devices still work?
Yes, they certainly will! In the most restrictive access level, your HomeKit devices will communicate only with your HomeKit hub, keeping them connected.
What about my non-HomeKit devices?
All of the other devices connected to your router will still function the same way as before. Only HomeKit devices are affected by the settings applied within the Home app.
What about firmware updates for HomeKit accessories?
Firmware updates will still be available for accessories just like they were before. However, if you use the Restrict to Home setting for your router, it may prevent firmware updates.
Can I change my settings at any time?
Yep, just make the change over in the Home app. If you want to keep things private, but still want updates, just change it to a less restrictive setting, download the update, then switch it back.
A bonus of locking down access is that it can also prevent updates that may change the way some of your accessories operate, keeping things familiar!
What else do I need to set it all up?
HomeKit Router support requires that you have a HomeKit hub set up in your home. HomeKit hubs include the Apple TV (4th generation or later), HomePod, and iPad (running iOS 9 or later).
Is there a subscription fee involved?
Nope! These features will be available completely free of charge from within the Home app.
Will I need to buy a new router?
Potentially. While Apple is making the feature available to existing routers, it is entirely up to the manufacturer as to whether or not it will be added.
Which routers are compatible with HomeKit today?
The second-generation Eero router line, including both standard and pro models have firmware updates availale that enable the feature now. This also includes both single and multi-pack models, and each one can be assigned to a room within the Home app.
Hey, I have one of those! How do I add it to the Home app?
First, you will need to be on the latest version of iOS 13, and your router must have the latest firmware that enables support for HomeKit. Check with your manufacturer's app or website for specifics on how to update your router.
Once you have updated everything, you will just need to hop over to your router's app and follow the process as stated. Unfortunately, you cannot add the routers directly from the Home app, you must initiate it through your routers app.
Ok, I got it added, now where do I find the new controls?
You can find all of the latest controls directly in the Home app. Simply head to the Home Settings portion of the app to get started. Having trouble tracking them down? We have you covered with our step by step guide found below.
What routers will be compatible in the future?
Linksys will be adding HomeKit support to their AC2200, AC4400, and AC6600 Velop mesh router systems in the near future. However, as with all things HomeKit, you may want to hold off on buying one until support is actually available.
Internet provider Charter Spectrum will also be offering HomeKit enabled routers at some point down the road as well, although additional details have yet to be shared.
Don't see your router? Don't worry, Apple continously adds new HomeKit partners, so your best bet would be to check out the HomeKit accessories list every once in a while to see what is available.
Since my router is in the Home app, can I add it to scenes and automations?
HomeKit routers are not available for use in scenes and automations at this time. The potential is always there though if additional router features, such as pausing the internet for specific devices are added.
I want to go back to using my router without HomeKit, can I still do that?
Yes you most certainly can. Even though it takes just a few taps within your router's app, the process is scary as you may lose access to your HomeKit accessories. According to eero's steps on the process, you may even have to factory reset your Wi-Fi HomeKit accessories to get them to show up in HomeKit again after.
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