Apple’s HomeKit was initially introduce with iOS 8, and is their attempt to create a single access point for controlling all of your home automation devices. Certified products are distributed under the “Works with Apple HomeKit” moniker. Initially only supporting devices on the local network for security reasons, later developments have permitted remote control directly without the need for an AppleTV.
At home control
While at home you can control all kinds of devices straight out of the Home app. Most often you will first have to download the specific device’s own app to set it up, before being able to link the device with the Home app. Devices you wish to control will connect to the internet either directly via a Wi-Fi connection, or via a hub that then has an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. Some will also connect directly to one of your iDevices via a Bluetooth connection.
With the ability to set scenes and allow various things to occur in reaction to a trigger event, it allows for a natural use of your connected devices.
Rooms serve three purposes: they allow you to group items such as lights to allow control of them all at once: they allow you to find them quicker from your interface: and they permit you to make voice commands, for example, turn on “lights in lounge”.
Scenes allow you to control several devices in one go. You can have a scene for going to bed, arriving home, or any other event. They can be triggered by selecting them from your phone, or when sensors or geo-boundaries are triggered. A scene for going to sleep could lock all your doors, turn off all the lights, and draw the blinds. When arriving home your front door can be unlocked, and the thermostat set to a predefined temperature.
All scenes are created from within the Home app, making use of any connected devices.
Away from home control
If you’re running Homekit in iOS8 (for some reason), you will not be able to access your devices when not on the same Wi-Fi network. In that situation, the only way to allow remote control is by setting up an AppleTV (third gen or later) as an in between device. Your AppleTV will have to be on the same Wi-Fi network as your devices, and your phone will then communicate with your AppleTV which then communicates with your devices at home.
You can also setup automatic events to take place. For example if you’ll be away for a few days, you can have the lights turn on and off at certain times, or have your blinds drawn. For this you need to have an AppleTV installed at home to control the devices at the scheduled time.
Much like Alexa and OK Google can be used to control devices, you can used your Siri enabled devices to run through commands like turning on lights, and asking it the status of your devices. For many commands you will still have to pick up the phone and unlock it, as these are considered security sensitive actions.
HomeKit is Apple’s solution to unifying all your connected home devices into one system. It operates in much the same way as Google and Amazon’s competing products, but based around your iDevice, as opposed to a central hub.
We’re doing a whole series on Apple HomeKit devices, you can view them all as they come out here.