Introducing Apple’s HomeKit for smart homes

Introducing Apple’s HomeKit for smart homes

Apple’s HomeKit for smart homes is an app for controlling light bulbs, door locks, security cameras, and other gadgets via your iPhone, iPad, or HomePod. HomeKit isn’t something you buy, it’s a free app which connects to the smart home devices you buy as part of your smart home network.

A lot of smart devices can be used with HomeKit or another app but some are designed only for HomeKit and cannot be controlled via non–Apple devices so, if you are not an Apple user, you may want to check out alternative solutions. But, if you use Apple devices already, HomeKit provides a smart way to use your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to control your home accessories and start building a smart home.

Getting started with Apple HomeKit for smart homes

To get started, you will need to buy at least one HomeKit compatible accessory from the range of lights, switches, outlets, thermostats, fans, speakers, doorbells, and cameras available online on in your local technology store. Look out for the ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ sticker on the box.

works with HomeKit for smart homes logo
Look out for the ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ sticker on smart devices.

A simple place to start is with some lights. The most popular lighting solution is Phillip’s Hue bulbs which can be purchased separately or in bundles – and all you need to do is install one of these smart light bulbs into an existing lamp, and you have the beginnings of a smart home – and a simple setup to start to get to grips with HomeKit.

Once you have a HomeKit compatible accessory plugged in at home, download the manufactures’ application from the App Store and walk through the set up process to make sure it works OK.

Using Apple’s HomeKit App for smart homes

SmartKit for smart home rooms
HomeKit lets you create different rooms to help you control your household accessories.

Now your accessories is connected and can be controlled via the manufacturer’s app, it is time to set it up with HomeKit. Find or download the HomeKit app and open it up to get started. Use the + button in the top right–hand corner to add a new accessory, and follow the onscreen instructions to scan the QR code on the box of hold your device near the new accessory and you’re good to go!

Setting up HomeKit ‘Scenes’

HometKit smart home scene
Creating ‘Scenes’ within HomeKit makes controlling your accessories simple.

Apple calls groups of accessories ‘Scenes’ – which provide a way to switch between different configurations of multiple devices with a single tap. You can add a new Scene via the + symbol in the upper right–hand corner. You can set up as many Scenes as you like for specific times of day or night when you want your devices configured in a specific way, for example you might want Scenes for:

  • Arriving home: This scene might turn on your home’s lights, unlock your front door, and turn up the thermostat.
  • Movie night: This scene could automatically lower the lights, turn on your home theater or TV and other devices and even close your curtains, if you have them connected!
  • Date night: This scene could change your lights colors for the right mood, adjust the thermostat to the perfect temperature, and play some romantic music for you…

Expanding your smart home with HomeKit

HomeKit morning scene
Use different scenes within HomeKit for the different times of the day and week.

HomeKit works best with loads of accessories that make your life easier. But setting up a smart home can be an expensive endeavor, so start room by room and pay attention to energy efficiency. Some of the ‘smartest’ devices are smart plugs which you can use to connect multiple devices so just one tap on the app kills a whole lot and you know they’re not consuming any energy at all.

Check out all the other HomeKit devices you can buy – but don’t get too carried away!

Controlling HomeKit devices with voice via Siri

If you’re signed in on your Apple devices with your Apple ID, then you can control your smart home accessories from multiple devices including your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, if you have one.

You can even control HomeKit via Apple TV (fourth generation or later) or an Apple HomePod Mini speaker. Whichever devices you’re on you can boot up Siri and simple state your request with phrases like “Hey Siri, turn off the living room lights” or “Hey Siri, set my reading scene.”

Control your HomeKit devices while you’re away

HomeKit for smart home hub devices
You can access HomeKit via Apple TV or a HomePod when you are away from home.

If you have an Apple TV or HomePod mini, HomeKit will automatically set up your device to act as a hub so that you can issue remote commands to your home when you aren’t there. This can be useful when you want to change the temperature or double check that your front door is locked while you’re away.

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