When it comes to Home Automation, there are a lot of different systems, or frameworks out there. I’ve been using Apple HomeKit for a few years now because of how easy and secure it is. I’d like to share some of the different things it can do to automate your home, simplify your life, and amaze your friends.
What does Apple HomeKit do?
Apple HomeKit is the framework that allows you to control your house from anywhere in the world with your voice, iPhone, or even automatically using different sensors It can do simple things like turn lights on and off, or more advanced automations like a goodnight scene where the thermostat is changed, doors lock, remote cameras become active, and much more.
I’ve been playing with Home Automation for a few years now. It started when I wanted to be able to turn off a light in my kid’s room upstairs without having to get off the couch. Then I got an Alexa Echo and played around with that. Eventually Alexa started to annoy me. I would ask a question and she would Respond “did you also know…”.Just give me what I want please, I have enough friends in the real world giving me advice.
I have always used Apple products – from my first Laptop, to my most recent Apple Watch. I even have just about every iPhone ever made. This is what led me to try out HomeKit – because I was already in the Apple ecosystem, and it was just so seamless and easy.
Some of the other things HomeKit can do:
- Siri can recognize different voices – so when you ask for your playlist to be played it will be different from when your kids ask, for instance.
- You can see who is at your door while watching a movie with picture in picture
- Siri will soon be in other non-Apple devices like thermostats and lights
- You can use your iPhone as a key to your house – just by tapping it to the door lock.
Is Homekit any good?
There are lots of different parts to answer the question if HomeKit is any good. Some of the factors to consider are the ease of set-up, how responsive it is, and safety and security.
Let’s start with the set-up. Apple has made HomeKit super easy to set up. As you are installing and connecting a HomeKit compatible device, all you have to do to add it to your system by scanning the QR code with your iPhone Camera and it is automatically added. You can then configure the settings, location and much more during the set-up, or anytime afterwards, too.
Then, once the device is installed and configured, you can control it from your iPhone, or via Siri commands if you have a HomePod or other Siri Enabled device (which are coming soon according to the latest news from Apple). The controls are quick and easy. Responses are usually in a second or two, and in my set-up there is no noticeable lag that some other users have complained about. Perhaps they don’t have as fast of Internet or something.
Finally, and this is the most important to me is security. My information is not stored in a server in a foreign country. All communication is encrypted end to end. I don’t ever feel like Apple is collecting my data unlike some of the other Home Automation systems out there.
What is HomeKit on my iPhone
HomeKit is the overall Framework that apple uses to oversee the entire Home Automation ecosystem. It allows for seamless interactions between you and the devices you have installed around your house.
On your iPhone there is a program called Home – and it has this yellow and orange house icon. This is where you have access to all the settings, controls, and automations for HomeKit.
At the top you have the devices that are turned on – in this case I have my Fan in the LEGO room turned on (don’t judge, yes we have a LEGO room). If other devices were on they would show up as circles at the top.
Next we have some Favorite Scenes, as chosen by HomeKit. The current scene is the Meetings Scene. With one click of a button I can have all the devices turn on or off for my zoom meetings with clients to my boss.
Then is the favorite accessories section – these are the most recently used, and other devices that might be useful based on the time of day, location, and other stuff. One press on these buttons turns them on or off. A long press opens them up to change settings and make adjustments
Then at the bottom are the Home, Rooms, Automations, and Discover buttons.
What can HomeKit do with Apple TV?
There are lots of different ways HomeKit can control AppleTV.
The most basic I use it is by saying “Hey Siri – turn on the Mandalorian in the Living Room”. And the TV turns on, it changes to Disney Plus, and the latest episode starts right up.
- If you have cameras connected to your HomeKit they can display on the TV.
- Your AppleTV is also a HUB connecting your local HomeKit to you, wherever you are in the world.
- Your iPhone becomes a TV remote control when you have AppleTV with HomeKit.
- All your Photos and movies can be displayed on the TV screen.
- Your TV becomes the ultimate Jukebox when connected to Apple Music
- And more!
What is the difference between AirPlay and Homekit
The difference between AirPlay and Homekit is easy to understand – HomeKit is what controls your Home Automation. AirPlay on the other hand is the ability for your TV to mirror what is on your computer screen or iPhone.
AirPlay is the protocol that allows you to stream music, movies, and other content over your Wifi network using Apple devices.
You don’t need to have Air Play for Homekit, or vice versa. However an Apple TV is needed for each of these unless you have a specific TV.
How Secure is HomeKit?
According to the Apple Website:
Because it’s encrypted using keys that are available only on the user’s iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices, its contents are inaccessible during transmission and iCloud storage. HomeKit data is also synced between multiple users of the same homeHomeKit data security from Apple.com
Does HomeKit use WiFi or Bluetooth?
To allow the different devices to talk to each other, HomeKit uses both Wifi and Bluetooth. Also, coming soon is a 3rd type of connection called Thread which is more of a medium range mesh network.
Wifi Gives longer range to the different devices, and Bluetooth is a more short-range local type of communication. With each you may need a Hub to allow some devices to work. You will for sure need a hub if you want to be able to use the devices when your not at home.
Wrapping up –
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what Apple HomeKit is, and how it works at a very high level. I’m not a programmer, and only an amateur hobbyist so I hope this explanation works for you. Overall HomeKit is my favorite home automation network, and hopefully it will become yours too!