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Apple HomeKit for smarthome: You want to know about the platform

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Apple HomeKit is Apple’s smart home platform. The platform gives iOS and MacOS users access to smart home controls. The advantage of this platform is that you don’t need a central hub for smart devices. But if you use an Apple TV or HomePod, you do get access to more options. This article explains everything about Apple HomeKit for smarthome.

What is Apple HomeKit?

Apple HomeKit is a smart home platform that you can operate via iOS. The idea behind it is quite simple. Usually you have different apps on your smart home for all kinds of devices, which do not communicate with each other. HomeKit brings the devices together in one place, giving you access to more possibilities. You can also control those devices with voice assistant Siri. You can now find HomeKit on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch (smartwatch), HomePod (smart speaker) and the Mac (computer).

The smart home platform consists of two parts, as it were. At the back is the skeleton, the technology that brings the devices together. HomeKit is a kind of standard that works in the background. Only devices with built-in support can talk to the network. Then there is the Apple Home app. This is basically the front of HomeKit, the way you operate your system. You will find that app on your smartphone, tablet or computer, provided they all come from Apple of course.

Start with Apple HomeKit

To get started, you need smart devices that support Apple HomeKit. In the early days of the platform, there were not that many devices. And if they were already there, the installation was sometimes a bit confusing. You can now choose from hundreds of devices, each of which is easy to install and use. And it concerns devices from all kinds of categories. Despite this, it is sometimes still difficult for manufacturers to build in support.

This has to do with the way Apple handles encryption and security. The requirements for this are high, which means that extra work is required. But if your smart device supports HomeKit, then you can be sure that your data will not just be on the street.

For almost all devices, you add them via the Apple Home app. You scan a unique, six-digit code that you can find on the device, the box or the manual. It may feel a bit archaic when you consider how Google, Amazon and Samsung go about it, but it does seem to be more secure. Once paired, you add the device to a room. You can also set the device as a favorite, giving you quick access to it. For example, via the Control panel on the screen of your iPhone or iPad.

What exactly you can do with the device in the app depends on what kind of device it is. Sensors show measurements, lamps and sockets can be switched on and off and doors can, for example, still be locked.

The system does have some caveats. Suppose you need to add certain devices again, then you have to make sure you keep the codes in a responsible place. In some cases you can create a new code, but then you have to jump through some hoops. That works less well.

Manufacturers that support HomeKit

Unfortunately, not every manufacturer offers support for Apple HomeKit. Fortunately, some of the larger companies of the moment do, so there is a good chance that you can get the product that you have in mind. Then think of:

  • Philips Hue (for smart bulbs)
  • Eve (for various sensors, cameras and light switches)
  • Arlo (for security cameras)
  • Nanoleaf (for special lamps on the wall)
  • August (for smart locks)

And there are many more manufacturers that support HomeKit.

Using the Apple Home app

Because the operation is via Apple Home, it is important to know what the app has in store. Before you can get started, make sure your iPhone, iPad or iPod has the latest iOS software. Do you use a Mac? Then of course you need the latest MacOS software. To use and manage your home on all your devices in the Home app, sign in to iCloud on each device with your Apple ID. Then turn on iCloud Keychain and Home in iCloud Settings.

You can add devices in the app on iOS (not on Mac). Once you have done that, you can adjust the information about the device in all versions of the app where necessary. You can of course operate your devices and you can also set scenes. This way you can operate multiple accessories at the same time. With the automation options you can make the house react in different ways to different factors. Are you leaving home? Then the heating can switch off automatically and the lights can be switched on. For the automation you do need an Apple TV media player (HD or 4K), a HomePod speaker or an iPad tablet that can serve as a smart home hub .

If you don’t like the Apple Home app, you can also use other apps and software. For example, a lot of devices work with the software from Eve or Fibaro. There are also paid apps that you can use; you will find it in the App Store (the digital store on the iPhone and Mac). The advantage of those other apps is that you get access to more options; but operating and setting is also somewhat more difficult.