Inside iOS 9: HomeKit Gains Simpler Set Up, Pre-Defined Scenes, Triggers and More

HomeKit officially became available in June, with the launch of the first HomeKit-compatible products, but as we've highlighted in reviews, Apple's home automation platform is still in need of some work to make it a viable choice for most users.

With iOS 9, Apple is debuting several new HomeKit features that have the potential to significantly improve the way it works, by simplifying some of the setup process broadening supported device types, and introducing key automation features to cut down on user interaction.

Setup

Setting up HomeKit devices isn't difficult, but it does require users to enter a unique HomeKit identifier to pair with an iPhone. In iOS 9, Apple will support scanning the code with the camera, shaving some time off of the setup process. Information displayed during the setup process, like icons, brand names, and images, is also improved, making the process somewhat more streamlined.

Scenes

With HomeKit, one of the most confusing and time consuming things to set up are scenes, which allow several devices to work in unison at a specific command. For example, when arriving home, one might want a scene that turns on the air conditioner and turns on the lights, a task that can be accomplished with a Siri command like "Turn on the Home scene."

wakeupscene
Scenes are useful, but their setup in iOS 8 is not always clear, especially to users who are new to HomeKit. In iOS 9, scenes are more straightforward because developers can add four pre-defined scenes to apps designed to work with their HomeKit-enabled devices. Pre-defined scenes include Getting Up, Leaving Home, Returning Home, and Going to Bed, and will walk users through setting up their devices for each occasion. Siri will automatically recognize these scenes, so Siri response to Scene queries should improve.

To differentiate pre-defined scenes from user-made scenes, user created scenes will be called "Custom Scenes" going forward.

Support for New Types of Devices

iOS 9 adds support for new kinds of connected devices and sensors, paving the way for more HomeKit accessories and better interaction with those devices. Window coverings like blinds and shades are now supported in iOS 9, as are motorized doors and windows, complete home security systems, and programmable switches.

New sensors that will be supported in iOS 9 include those that detect things like carbon monoxide, smoke, and water leaks, and those that monitor air quality and humidity. Sensors that detect motion and movement will also be included in HomeKit in iOS 9.

Remote Access

With iOS 9, Remote Access is improving. It will no longer be necessary to have an Apple TV to access HomeKit devices when away from home because Apple has a new iCloud service that device makers can use for their HomeKit accessories. Before iOS 9, accessing HomeKit devices remotely required them to connect to an Apple TV or it required accessory makers to implement their own cloud services.

In our experience, Remote Access through the Apple TV is unreliable, so hopefully the iCloud change will improve things quite a bit.

Triggers

Triggers are one of the most important new features in iOS 9 because in future devices, they'll allow for a lot more automation. Triggers can be based on location, time of day, and can be set off by the activation of another HomeKit accessory. For example, a HomeKit device that senses when the front door opens will know when you arrive home, automatically setting off a sequence of connected events such as turning on the lights and lowering the temperature.

Developers have access to build triggers into their HomeKit apps going forward, and Elgato's Eve Door and Window sensor will be the first accessory to support Triggers.

triggers
Right now, HomeKit is a largely interactive platform, requiring Siri commands or direct action within apps to control devices, which doesn't always make it simpler than just using a light switch. Triggers, combined with timers, have the potential to make HomeKit a more convenient, hands-off automation platform.

Multiple Users

In iOS 8, setting up HomeKit access for multiple users is no picnic, but bug fixes and improvements to the multi-user setup process in iOS 9 will make it easier to invite other people in your household to access HomeKit devices.

Apple Watch

With watchOS 2 and iOS 9, HomeKit devices can be controlled right from the wrist with Siri commands.

Last week, Apple launched a new iOS 9-focused HomeKit site that better explains how HomeKit works and details the ways in which it can be useful to automate the home. The site covers available products, goes over the Siri commands that can be used with HomeKit, and offers information on some of the new iOS 9 features like pre-defined scenes and triggers.

The new site is well worth checking out to get a better understanding of what's possible with HomeKit in iOS 9.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
64 months ago

Apple is at an awkward state at the moment. 2016 will either make or break Apple in terms of if they choose to keep introducing new half baked tech or work on what they already have. I don't mean all new tech from them is half done, I'm just saying it seems like they have a solid idea of why they introduced something but then they don't refine it over time. Seems like they'd rather keep adding brand new features to new products as an incentive for people to upgrade (keeps sharholders happy)... But that process becomes a vicious cycle because the new features are not very refined either.

I for one would love if it we had less new products/services next year and instead had some really great revamps on current stuff. Imagine what we would have today if 2015 was the year of OS revamps and software improvements. I thought iOS 9 and El Cap were supposed to be the 'Stability Updates' but apparently some things were left alone (Primarily Apple Music and Safari).

You mean like adding transit directions to maps, or making TouchID faster, or signing up more banks to support Apple Pay, or making the LTE radio in the iPhone compatible with more bands?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
64 months ago
Still don't get why the new Apple TV was not used as a hub for HomeKit
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
64 months ago
Apple really needs to work on HomeKit and Healthkit. Lots of potential but not much happening. Sad to see really. Seems totally unlike Apple.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
64 months ago

iScenes?

Just slap an i in front of it and BOOM, instant Apple name.

iScenes is so 2013, :apple:Scenes is where it's at.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
64 months ago

I hope it comes soon. I have a bridge and two lightbulbs and am looking to ask for more for Christmas. My only issue is that the lights in my house with fans have sockets that are too small, so I also have to replace those. I think they need to work on pricing if this is going to take off. While I love the idea, spending hundreds of dollars to make turning lights on and off is not a financial priority to me and others. I also noticed on the link someone posted in response to your reply that I will also have to purchase a new bridge to replace the one I just bought two months ago if I want to integrate into HomeKit. Which of course, I do.

They really need lights for those smaller socket bulbs. I have a few fans lights and bar lights I would love to replace, but the sockets are too small.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
64 months ago

Apple really needs to work on HomeKit and Healthkit. Lots of potential but not much happening. Sad to see really. Seems totally unlike Apple.

I agree. There wasn't even a single mention of it during the introduction of the new Apple TV.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Phil Schiller Moving on to Become 'Apple Fellow,' Greg Joswiak Taking Over as Marketing SVP

Tuesday August 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Apple's Phil Schiller is moving on to become an "Apple Fellow," Apple announced today, while Greg Joswiak will take over as Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events, but will no longer be in charge of marketing. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is "thrilled" that Joswiak will be leading the marketing team, and that his...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...