If we talk about home automation, surely the people around you use assistants like Google or Alexa to manage the devices in your home. But, if you have an iPhone, there is another protocol that may sound familiar to you. Its name is HomeKit .
For integration with the rest of your devices and some additional advantage you may be interested in using HomeKit instead of other systems related to home automation at home. If so, we tell you everything you should know about this option designed for Apple users.
What is HomeKit?
HomeKit was presented at the 2014 WWDC (Apple developer event) as a home automation protocol that allowed to unify and facilitate the arrival of this technology to all households.
What is home automation? In a simple way we can summarize it as a set of teams that, automatically or semi-automatically, perform tasks or actions in our homes to make life easier for us. But, if you want to go deeper into this section, you can consult our article on what home automation is and why you should domotize your home .
This type of technology, and its gadgets , were in chaos before the arrival of Apple’s proposal. Each team had its own connection, interaction and protocol methods. Which made it much more tedious for the user to implement them at home.
So HomeKit was a before and after for smart homes . With the passage of time since his arrival, he has concentrated all those accesses in one and the best thing is that he has put it within our reach. We can manage all the home automation that we implement from our own iPhone or by voice commands with the help of Siri .
And this is perhaps one of the fundamental points that you must understand about HomeKit. As it is a protocol created by Apple, it will only be compatible with its own devices, that is: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV or HomePod.
What can we do with HomeKit?
This is the solution to turn your house into a smart home, easily and making it compatible with your Apple device. Therefore, we will have all the advantages that a home automation has.
This protocol will be controlled from the “Home” app that we can find on our computers. And, from it, we will have access to all the functionalities of HomeKit.
One of the fundamental benefits is the control of all our accessories remotely . Among them we can find lights, music players, compatible plugs, sensors and much more. In addition, we can use a HomePod, Apple TV or iPad as an accessory center (a few paragraphs later we explain the process) to manage everything from outside the home.
Within «Home» we can also create environments or automations , which allow us to operate several devices at the same time with the touch of a button. Or, even, do it through conditional actions such as: when you get home, when you leave home, through a certain voice command or when a certain time arrives. You may also know about such actions from the IFTTT app or If This Then That , which unveiled these types of scheduled actions.
If you want to delve a little deeper into this world of smart home you can also do it with HomeKit. Using compatible sensors, you will be able to know data such as: temperature, humidity or even know if there is movement in your home when you are away from it.
How does HomeKit work?
The whole set of things we can do with this protocol is fantastic, but how can we add compatible devices to HomeKit? Well it’s pretty easy.
The first and most important thing is to make sure that the equipment we are going to buy is compatible . In most cases we will be able to see the packaging itself represented with the icon of a small house. In the event that we have doubts, it is best that we go to the seller and consult him directly.
Once the compatible device is in our possession, we must go to the «Home» app of the iPhone, iPad, or the Apple device that we have. By clicking on add accessory we will begin the synchronization process that is done through the HomeKit code . This can be represented as a numerical code, or through a QR. Where do we find it? Well, depending on the equipment, we can find on the packaging, the instructions booklet itself, or even on the accessory itself as a screen printing.
Reading and recognition is practically immediate. After this step, we will have to give a name to the accessory and create or assign it to a room . In this way, we will be able to better organize all the home automation equipment that we have at home and give joint orders so that all of them in the same room are activated.
Finally, and before starting to use it, we can assign you the default environments that HomeKit includes or those that we have created ourselves.
Now we will have our new device ready to control it from our phone, or through voice commands that we tell Siri.
Set up HomePod, Apple TV or iPad as accessory hub
As we mentioned a few lines ago, with HomeKit you will also have the possibility of handling this type of equipment from outside your home. But, unlike other home automation protocols, we will not be able to do it without previous configuration and compatible equipment at home .
In order to do this we will need to have a HomePod, Apple TV (4th generation onwards) or iPad at home to act as a control center. The creation process depends on each team.
To set up an Apple TV :
- From this device, go to Settings / Users and accounts and verify that you are logged in to your iCloud account with the same Apple ID as your iOS devices.
- In the case of Apple TVs, when logging into iCloud, they are automatically set as accessory hubs
If you want to activate this function on a HomePod , this function is activated directly by linking it to your iCloud account in the initial configuration.
Finally, if you want to configure an iPad :
- Within Settings, enter the Home section and activate the function of using it as an accessory center.
- Of course, check within the options of your Apple ID that the synchronization with Home is active.
Advantages and disadvantages of using HomeKit
As you may have already noticed, using this home automation protocol has a number of advantages for your day to day :
- Remote control of devices: lights, air conditioning, music, sensors, etc.
- Greater security by having certain equipment that alerts you to anomalies in your home when you are away. In addition, behind each of these gadgets are Apple’s security and privacy systems, which gives it that extra reliability in this section.
- Automation of such equipment for greater comfort. Which entails, in many cases, a financial saving.
- If you have several computers from the apple company, by using devices with HomeKit you can manage it from any of them without problems.
But, of course, not everything related to home automation is positive. This type of equipment carries its not so positive points :
- Dependency on the WiFi connection: as these are networked computers, if our router fails, so will the connection with these gadgets. In the case of the lights there is not much problem, since we can continue turning them on and off with the physical plug on our wall. However, equipment such as security cameras, sensors or others completely depend on the WiFi signal for their use.
- Higher outlay: this type of device carries a higher cost than its “classic” alternatives, due to its extra functions. Depending on the accessory, the price will be higher or lower but, undeniably, they will have a higher price than a lifetime bulb, for example.
- Vulnerability: like any connected equipment, they are devices that can become security holes for the connection of our home. For many security systems that Apple implements to its devices, the flaws exist and no protocol is perfect. But, do not panic, it is not something that happens every day and, luckily, keeping your firmware updated will be enough.
You already know HomeKit thoroughly. Time to choose devices
Now that you know everything about HomeKit and its benefits, the time has come for you to start selecting which home automation gadgets you are going to buy . You can choose from a lot of alternatives, types and options.
To start in this world of smart home, our recommendation is to start with smart bulbs. So, you can take a look at our article to choose the best smart light bulb . And, in case you prefer to start with other devices, you have a fairly large catalog of sensors, cameras and many other options compatible with HomeKit to create a good home automation ecosystem.