HomeKit: Everything You Need to Know

The HomeKit ecosystem may seem daunting and confusing if you're unfamiliar with smart home products, their functionality, and their benefits, but getting started is actually simple and straightforward.

Learning the ins and outs of HomeKit after setup does take a bit of effort, but it's not a difficult process and having interlinked electronics that can interact with each other and be automated can save time and really streamline your life.



What is HomeKit?


HomeKit is Apple's smart home platform, which is designed to let you control various internet-connected home devices -- ranging from thermostats and plugs to window blinds, light bulbs, and more -- with Apple devices.

These days, more and more products are internet connected, which is why you've heard the phrase "Internet of Things."

The Internet of Things is a confusing mix of "smart" products that connect to the internet and can be controlled by a range of different platforms, from Amazon's Alexa to Google Home to Samsung SmartThings.

HomeKit is Apple's "Internet of Things" solution that connects HomeKit-enabled smart accessories together in a way that lets you operate them using your Apple products.

What You Can Do With HomeKit


HomeKit isn't a product or software, it's a framework that links smart home products together and adds new capabilities to devices like lights, locks, cameras, thermostats, plugs, and more.

HomeKit lets you control smart home products using apps on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, or simple Siri voice commands.

While controlling smart home products with ‌Siri‌ or with an iPhone is convenient, the real magic of HomeKit comes when you have multiple HomeKit-enabled products because you can control them all at once using scenes or set up automations so that they activate automatically.


You can, for example, create a "Good night" scene that makes sure the doors are locked, closes the garage, turns off the lights, lowers the thermostat, and then activates a night light whenever motion is detected. With automation, you can set individual HomeKit devices to come on or off at specific times, or you can set entire scenes, like the aforementioned "Good night" scene to come on at a set time.


HomeKit setups, scenes, and automations can be as complex or as simple as you like, and now that HomeKit is in its fifth year of availability, there are all kinds of HomeKit products you can purchase. With a bit of time and some money, you can have a whole smart home ecosystem that's streamlined, automated, and easy to control.

Setting It Up


Getting started with HomeKit is as simple as purchasing a HomeKit-enabled device, whether it be a smart plug, light bulb, AirPlay 2 speaker, Apple TV, HomePod, thermostat, or something else.

From there, open up the "Home" app, which comes pre-installed on all iOS devices. Tap on the "Add Accessory" button that's on the main screen of the Home app, and then follow the steps after it opens up to the rear camera.

All HomeKit products come with a HomeKit QR code on them, which you need to scan with the camera. Scanning the HomeKit code adds a device to the HomeKit framework, and then you can follow a few additional steps to assign it to a room, a necessary step for organizing your HomeKit devices.

How HomeKit Devices Connect


HomeKit devices connect to your HomeKit setup through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or a hub, which connects to Wi-Fi.



Many HomeKit devices in the United States use WiFi or connect to a hub over WiFi. Hue light bulbs, for example, use a hub, while smart lights from other brands like LIFX use WiFi.



There are some devices that connect over Bluetooth, and with Bluetooth devices, it's worth noting that you're going to need home hubs to extend connectivity, otherwise connection range can be rather limited. Home hubs include the ‌Apple TV‌, the ‌iPad‌, and the ‌HomePod‌.



Types of HomeKit Devices


There are all kinds of HomeKit devices on the market, some that are more capable than others. The following HomeKit categories are available:
  • Lights
  • Switches
  • Outlets
  • Thermostats
  • Window Blinds
  • Fans
  • Air Conditioners
  • Humidifiers
  • Air Purifiers
  • Sensors
  • Locks
  • Cameras
  • Doorbells
  • Garage Doors
  • Sprinklers
  • Speakers
  • Receivers
  • TVs
Apple maintains a full list of HomeKit-compatible devices on its website, complete with links, so this is the best place to get an overview of all of the different HomeKit devices that you can put in your home.


Smart home devices that are compatible with HomeKit will have "Works with Apple Homekit" labeling on the packaging to make it clear that they support HomeKit.

Basic HomeKit Setup Tutorials


Using the Home App


Setting Up Remote Access


‌HomePod‌ and ‌AirPlay‌ 2


HomeKit Requirements


Using HomeKit requires an iPhone, ‌iPad‌, or iPod touch running the latest version of iOS, along with at least one HomeKit-enabled device.

Using the Home app on the Mac requires macOS Mojave, and to control devices when away from home, an ‌Apple TV‌, ‌iPad‌, or ‌HomePod‌ is required to serve as a Home Hub.

Ways to Control Your HomeKit Devices


The great thing about HomeKit is the myriad ways that you can control your HomeKit compatible devices.

You can use ‌Siri‌ voice commands on the iPhone, ‌iPad‌, ‌iPod touch‌, Mac, Apple Watch, ‌HomePod‌, or ‌Apple TV‌ to ask ‌Siri‌ to complete HomeKit tasks.

Devices can be controlled manually in the Home app, or in the app that comes with the device. Each HomeKit device will have an app downloadable from the iOS App Store that offers a way to control it.

You can also purchase HomeKit-enabled button-type devices that serve as remotes to activate HomeKit scenes physically, and there are switches for controlling HomeKit products such as lights.

Reviews of HomeKit Accessories


Lights


Sensors


Buttons/Remotes/Switches


Locks


Cameras


Thermostats


Plugs and Outlets


Miscellaneous



Security and Privacy


Security and privacy are topics that Apple takes seriously, and thus every manufacturer that creates a HomeKit-compatible device has to follow Apple's security guidelines, better ensuring your devices are safe from hackers.

Apple's commitment to privacy and demand that HomeKit products be secure is reassuring at a time when our homes are filled with smart devices that can hear us and see us.

For a long time, Apple required all HomeKit products to include a hardware-based HomeKit authentication coprocessor for HomeKit certification, and many HomeKit devices continue to offer this. In 2017, Apple began allowing manufacturers to obtain HomeKit certification with software-based authentication, but HomeKit is no less secure as a result.

All HomeKit devices use the same security features, including end-to-end encryption, non-reusable encryption keys, and two-way authentication (Apple verifies your HomeKit device and your HomeKit device verifies your Apple device) when connecting to a HomeKit setup.

A HomeKit camera, for example, sends video and audio streams directly to an iOS device and those streams are encrypted using randomly generated keys to prevent someone from intercepting your video feed.

All HomeKit data stored on your devices is fully encrypted, and HomeKit syncing between devices is done via iCloud and ‌iCloud‌ Keychain, both of which have their own security. Apple also must approve each and every device that gets the HomeKit labeling. In a nutshell, Apple has worked to make HomeKit a secure smart home platform that people can trust.

HomeKit is not without its bugs, though, and there have been some security snafus. In December 2017, there was a bug that left HomeKit accessories vulnerable to unauthorized access, but Apple was quick to fix it.

For those interested, the nitty gritty details about HomeKit security are available in Apple's iOS Security Guide and are well worth checking out if you have security concerns about using smart home devices. [PDF]

Solving HomeKit Connectivity Problems


When using HomeKit devices, you might sometimes see an error that a device is unreachable in the Home app or have other problems connecting to a HomeKit product.

The Home app, and most HomeKit apps that accompany HomeKit products, provide very little info on why a HomeKit product isn't working properly or connecting to your network, which can make troubleshooting HomeKit issues frustrating.

There are a few basic steps you can follow that will sometimes solve connectivity issues.
  1. Make sure the HomeKit device has power, is turned on, and is in range of your router if it's a Wi-Fi device.
  2. Turn the HomeKit device off, wait a good 10 seconds, and turn it back on. Do the same thing with your iPhone or other device you're attempting to use with HomeKit.
  3. Check the Wi-Fi connection and reset your router. Make sure your iOS device is up to date, connected to the internet, and that you're signed into ‌iCloud‌.
  4. Make sure your HomeKit device is on the right Wi-Fi band. There are a lot of HomeKit devices that are 2.4GHz while most devices connect to 5GHz networks, and that can sometimes cause problems. If you have a 2.4GHz accessory, make sure it's on the 2.4GHz network. Steps for this will vary based on your setup.
  5. Remove the device from HomeKit in the Home app and then re-add it by scanning it. For some HomeKit products, this is probably a last resort step because it eliminates scenes and automations.
  6. Remove the device from HomeKit and reset it. This is a step that's necessary when removing some HomeKit devices from a HomeKit setup. You're going to need to consult the manual of your device because resetting is different on every product.
If none of these steps work, you're going to want to contact the support staff for whichever product you're having problems with to get further information on what to do for troubleshooting purposes.

Many HomeKit manufacturers have online troubleshooting databases, so in some cases, you can just Google for a solution.

There are more drastic steps to take, such as logging in and out of ‌iCloud‌ or resetting your entire HomeKit setup, but we recommend contacting a manufacturer before trying these last resort options just because of the hassle involved.

Discuss HomeKit


Have a setup question or a HomeKit issue you just can't figure out? You might want to check out the HomeKit forums on the MacRumors site for additional help. There are quite a few HomeKit users on the forums, and most people are happy to help.

Guide Feedback


Want to offer feedback on this guide, ask for feature additions, or point out an error? Send us an email here.


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Smart home company Tado has announced an updated version of its Smart AC Controller that includes Apple HomeKit support out of the box. Available today in the U.K. and other European countries, the controller connects compatible air conditioners and heat pumps to a home's Wi-Fi network, allowing users to adjust the temperature with their mobile device rather than the remote control that came with their AC unit. The Tado device works by detecting the make and model of the AC unit from its infrared signal, and then mimics the signals that correspond to the user controls found on the original IR remote so that the Tado mobile app can take its place. The accompanying app has also been redesigned and introduces some new features, including an Air Comfort Skill which measures air freshness inside and outside of the home. The skill complements other features like Geofencing, Open Window Detection, Weather Adaptation, and energy reports that aim to save energy and improve comfort. Users can also make use of the Smart Schedule and settings to minimize AC noise levels and disruption by managing the fan speed and the time when it's running. With the new HomeKit support, users can ask Siri to change temperatures and add air conditioning into HomeKit Scenes and Automations. Like the company's V3+ Smart Thermostats, the new Smart AC Control also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The new Smart AC Control V3+ is available starting today at £89.99 from retailers across Europe as well as from the tado.com

New 'Friends of Hue' Partner Lutron Debuts New Smart Bulb Aurora Dimmer

Lutron, a new "Friends of Hue" partner, today announced the launch of the Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer, a Hue accessory that's designed to be placed over a traditional toggle light switch to prevent it from being turned off and accidentally disabling Hue smart bulbs. The Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer is a wireless battery-powered dimmer that's meant to be mounted right over a traditional light switch, keeping guests and children from using the switch while also introducing dimming controls for Hue bulbs. You can tap the Aurora Dimmer to turn your Hue lights on and off or turn the knob to brighten or dim the lights."Lutron is pleased to join the Philips Hue 'Friends of Hue' program and offer this unique, wall-mounted smart lighting control that enriches the Hue experience," said Matt Swatsky, Vice President, Residential Mid-Market Business at Lutron. "Lutron prides itself on aligning with global, best-in-class companies like Signify to improve and evolve the lighting experience. Together, Lutron and Signify are addressing smart bulb user feedback with an attractive and practical solution that locks toggle switches in place to keep smart bulbs ready, while providing an additional point of control. The Aurora dimmer simplifies the use of Philips Hue smart bulbs and fixtures for everyone in the home."According to Lutron, it takes just two minutes to install the Lutron Aurora Dimmer over a standard toggle light switch. The base of the dimmer locks the existing toggle switch in the up/on position to prevent it from being accidentally turned off, while the knob snaps right onto

MacRumors Giveaway: Win an Energy Strip and a Light Strip With Extension From Eve

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with Eve to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a set of smart home products that includes the Eve Energy Strip, Eve Light Strip, and a Light Strip Extender. Eve's Energy Strip, priced at $99, is its newest product, offering up three HomeKit-connected outlets that can be controlled individually or all at once so you can make non-HomeKit products compatible with HomeKit. The three outlets are generously spaced so even bulky power supplies won't obstruct a second socket, plus there's a long 6.3-foot cable. The Energy Strip connects to HomeKit over WiFi, and you can control whatever's plugged into it through the Eve app, the Home app, or Siri voice commands. In addition to providing HomeKit controls, the Energy Strip lets you monitor total power consumption and track costs for anything that's plugged in, so you can monitor and shut down appliances that are draining energy. Physical buttons let you turn accessories off if the app isn't available, and Eve has included protection against power surges, overcurrent, and overvoltage. With the HomeKit integration, connected devices can be controlled with other HomeKit products or automated to work on a specific schedule. The Eve Light Strip is also one of Eve's newer products, and it's one of the brightest HomeKit-enabled LED strips on the market with 1,800 lumens and support for full-spectrum white shades along with millions of colors. Priced at $80, the Light Strip provides enough light to replace a standard room lamp at its brightest levels. Each Light Strip is

Six HomeKit and AirPlay 2 Accessories Worth Checking Out

Last year, we shared a list of some of the best HomeKit products you can buy, which was quite popular with MacRumors readers, so we thought we'd follow it up. In our 2019 HomeKit video, we're featuring some more great HomeKit products, and we've added in some AirPlay 2 accessories as well. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Vizio TVs - HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support is coming to a bunch of TVs from Sony, LG, Vizio, and Samsung later this year, but Vizio has already rolled out support on some of its TVs in a beta capacity. If you have a recent M-Series or P-Series Vizio TV, you can try it out. AirPlay 2 lets you AirPlay content from your Apple devices right to the TV, and your TV will also show up in HomeKit. You can use the Home app and Siri commands to do things like change the volume, switch inputs, or turn the TV on or off. Sonos Beam ($400) - The Sonos Beam is an AirPlay 2-enabled soundbar that's meant to be used with your TV, offering up impressive sound and allowing the same music to be played through other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in your home, like the Sonos One or the HomePod. BlueSound Pulse Flex 2i Speakers ($300) - BlueSound's Pulse Flex 2i Speakers are AirPlay 2 enabled, so you can use them alongside other AirPlay 2 devices. AirPlay 2 lets you play music on multiple speakers throughout the home, for a whole home audio experience. These are more expensive than some other competing products like the Sonos One, but BlueSound promises superior sound. Chamberlain myQ Garage Door Opener and Home Bridge ($142) -