A hand is shown holding an iPhone 7. The Home app for iOS is launched and the Automation page is shown on screen.

If you've yet to set up scenes and automations in your smart home, you're not getting the full benefit of the smart products you're buying.

Much like the Dark Side, you don't know the power of the smart home until you've added in scenes and automations (that was a bad analogy, but I couldn't pass it up).

Scenes, in HomeKit parlance, are groups of actions that affect the accessories in your smart home. Instead of having to go into the Home app for iOS and adjust settings for each individual light/fan/shade/thermostat, you can set up common actions in groups. You could, for example, have a scene called "Good Night" that will turn off all the lights in your home, set the thermostat to a cooler temperature, and draw the shades.

Automations, on the other hand, are methods by which your smart home can control itself. You can use your device's location, a certain time of day, and other accessories to trigger Scenes and make adjustments to your smart home. You could, for example, set up an automation that turns on the light in the entryway every time you unlock the smart lock you've installed on the front door. You could also have certain lights in your home (like yard lights) turn on or off based on the sunrise and sunset.

Sure, it's neat to be able to control your lights with the sound of your voice — "Hey Siri, turn off the light in my bedroom." — but it's neater to not have to think about controlling your smart home, instead letting it do much of the work for you. A truly smart home is made smarter through scenes and automations.

How to set up scenes in the Home app for iOS

If you'd like to set up a scene in the Home app for iOS, here's how!

  1. Launch the Home app for iOS.
  2. Tap the add button in the top right corner of the screen (looks like a plus sign).
  3. Tap Add Scene.
  4. Choose a suggested scene or create a new one by tapping Custom.

    Setting up scenes in the Home app for iOS

  5. Give your scene a name.
    • You can change the icon for your scene by tapping the Home icon to the left of the scene name.*
  6. Tap Add Accessories.
  7. Choose the accessories you want to add to your scene by tapping on them (I want to dim the lights in my living room before a movie begins so I'm choosing the lights in my living room.).
  8. Tap Done when you've selected your accessories.

    Setting up scenes in the Home app for iOS

  9. Long press or 3D Touch the accessories in your scene to change their settings.
  10. Tap Done when you've adjusted your accessories' settings to your satisfaction.

    • Tapping Test This Scene will show you what the scene will do. It gives you a chance to make sure you've set everything to your satisfaction.
    • Tapping Add Accessories will let you add more accessories to your scene.
    • Tapping the on/off switch next to Include in Favorites will add or remove this scene from your favorite scenes.

      Setting up scenes in the Home app for iOS

My favorite scene: Good Night

I have a scene in my HomeKit setup called Good Night. At the tap of a button or the utterance of a phrase ("Hey Siri, good night!"), here's what happens in my home:

That'd be quite a lot of tapping and swiping if I completed each adjustment individually. Setting up the scene was annoying, but the ongoing convenience was worth it!

How to set up automations in the Home app for iOS

When you're ready to level up your smart home with automations (these are the things that make your smart home run on its own), hop on over to the Home app for iOS and get to tappin'!

  1. Launch the Home app.
  2. Tap the Automation tab (looks like a clock).
  3. Tap Create new Automation.
  4. Choose when you want the automation to occur. For this example, we're going to choose A Time of Day Occurs.

    setting up automations in the Home app for iOS

  5. Dial in your specific time.
  6. Tap Next.
  7. Choose which accessories or scenes you'd like to control with this automation.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Adjust the settings of your chosen accessories to your desire.
  10. Tap Done.

    setting up automations in the Home app for iOS

Need some automation inspiration? Check out this guide I put together for Valentine's Day. It's got some automation projects and ideas that you can adapt for your needs!

Woo that special someone with HomeKit and home automation!

Questions and thoughts?

Do you use scenes and automations in your HomeKit setup? What's your favorite? If you haven't set up any scenes or automations, did we inspire you to get crackin'? Share your thoughts and troubleshooting questions in the comments below!