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