Man­ag­ing rooms

Get into the zone with HomeKit – and also the scene, home and room

Mac Format - - APPLE HOMEKIIT -

HomeKit pro­vides sev­eral lay­ers of flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing the lay­out of your home au­to­ma­tion ac­ces­sories and de­vices. Lay­outs are based around the con­cepts of ‘homes’, ‘rooms’ and ‘zones’. A home is the largest con­tainer, rep­re­sent­ing a sin­gle dwelling and guests can be granted limited ac­cess to a home. It’s pos­si­ble to add mul­ti­ple homes to HomeKit – your ac­tual home and an of­fice, for ex­am­ple, or mul­ti­ple hol­i­day homes if you’ve the wealth of a typ­i­cal Ap­ple exec! One must be set as a de­fault for Siri com­mands that don’t spec­ify a home.

Each home may have mul­ti­ple rooms within, and th­ese need to be given mean­ing­ful and dis­tinct names, such as ‘living room’ and ‘kitchen’. If a home has two sim­i­lar rooms that per­form the same func­tion, you’ll need to name them dif­fer­ently, in or­der for Siri to recog­nise them when you’re is­su­ing com­mands. For ex­am­ple, you can’t have two rooms called ‘study’, or sev­eral rooms called ‘bed­room’. Within each room, there can be mul­ti­ple ac­ces­sories, which again should all have unique names. So you may need to be cre­ative if you get a bit spendy in an Ap­ple Store.

As peo­ple tend to think of cer­tain ar­eas of homes as one, Ap­ple of­fers a straight­for­ward way to group rooms and ac­ces­sories. This pro­vides the means to give Siri el­e­gantly sim­ple com­mands to per­form com­plex ac­tions.

The afore­men­tioned ‘zone’ is an ar­bi­trary col­lec­tion of rooms, such as ‘up­stairs’, ‘down­stairs’ or ‘bed­rooms’. Any of the rooms you’ve de­fined in your HomeKit setup can be added to one or more zones.

A handy sce­nario for a zone would be to use a sin­gle com­mand to turn off all of the down­stairs lights, rather than hav­ing to re­mem­ber the var­i­ous names of all ac­ces­sories and deal­ing with them in­di­vid­u­ally.

Get in the zone

HomeKit’s other group­ing op­tion is the ‘scene’, which is even more pow­er­ful than the zone. A scene also hap­pens to be more gran­u­lar, since it can in­clude an ar­bi­trary num­ber of ac­tions defin­ing the set­tings of spe­cific ac­ces­sories, rooms or zones.

Ap­ple’s de­vel­oper guide­lines sug­gest you might cre­ate a scene called ‘away’ that would lower your home’s tem­per­a­ture, turn off all the lights and lock the doors. The op­po­site to this might be a ‘party’ scene – un­lock­ing your front door, turn­ing on your mu­sic sys­tem, pow­er­ing up that ex­tra drinks fridge in the kitchen, dim­ming your nor­mal light­ing and set­ting your coloured lights to ‘disco mode’. Raised an eye­brow? The con­cept’s al­ready here – check out Hue Disco on the App Store!

Pre­cisely how room man­age­ment will be achieved wasn’t fully clear at the time of writ­ing. Ap­ple might add a ‘Home’ app to your iOS de­vice, akin to the Health app, for ac­cess­ing rel­e­vant data. Al­ter­na­tively, it might be some­thing only ac­ces­si­ble from within HomeKit ac­ces­sory apps, ei­ther us­ing the be­spoke UI of the app it­self or a sys­tem-wide Ap­ple-de­fined in­ter­face, rather like the iOS Doc­u­ment Picker.

A scene called ‘away’ could turn off all the lights and lock all the doors

A ‘party’ set­ting could in­stantly get your house ready for the in­va­sion of revellers – turn­ing on mu­sic, dim­ming lights…

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