Get started with HomePod de­vices

In prepa­ra­tion for the Home Pod’s ar­rival, there’s a wide range of smart home de­vices you can set up to work with Ap­ple’s speaker

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - BY CLIFF JOSE PH

Be­fore the HomePod ar­rives, check out the range of ver­sa­tile smart home ac­ces­sories it can al­ready con­trol.

et­ter late than never, as the say­ing goes. It’s been frus­trat­ing, in re­cent months, to see Ama­zon’s Echo speaker and its Alexa voice as­sis­tant grab­bing all the head­lines, while Ap­ple’s Siri and its Home Kit home-au­to­ma­tion soft­ware sat glumly on the side­lines. The Echo was also get­ting all the at­ten­tion from man­u­fac­tur­ers of smart light­ing sys­tems, ther­mostats, se­cu­rity cam­eras, and all the other smart home de­vices that we cover here ev­ery month in Home Life.

Ap­ple’s orig­i­nal plan for the emerg­ing home au­to­ma­tion mar­ket was to use the Ap­ple TV as its cen­tral smart home con­trol de­vice. But the Ap­ple TV has never re­ally been a mas­sive suc­cess, and it sim­ply couldn’t com­pete with the Ama­zon Echo or the re­cently launched Google Home speaker.

That’s where Ap­ple’s new Home Pod speaker comes in. It’s not due to ar­rive un­til De­cem­ber but, as well as of­fer­ing great sound qual­ity, the Home Pod in­cludes Siri and the Home Kit soft­ware. Even ahead of its De­cem­ber launch date the Home Pod is at­tract­ing new prod­ucts that sup­port Home Kit – and once more mak­ing Ap­ple a se­ri­ous con­tender in the bat­tle for the smart homes of the fu­ture.

In cam­era

Se­cu­rity is the num­ber one fac­tor that at­tracts peo­ple to smart home technology, but it’s only re­cently that Ap­ple added sup­port for se­cu­rity cam­eras to Home Kit (in the Home app in ios 10). Since then we’ve seen D-Link’s Omna 180, which was the very first se­cu­rity cam­era to work with Home Kit, and Log­itech just launched a new

ver­sion of its pop­u­lar Cir­cle cam­era – cun­ningly named Cir­cle 2 – which adds Home Kit as well for $180. At least, that’s the case with the wired ver­sion – the wire­less model doesn’t work with Home Kit for some un­spec­i­fied rea­son.

It’s a shame that Ne­tatmo’s se­cu­rity cam­eras don’t sup­port Home Kit, but it does have a Home Kit smoke alarm com­ing soon, which in­cludes an alarm to wake you if nec­es­sary, and Wi-Fi to send alerts when you’re away from home. El­gato doesn’t make se­cu­rity cam­eras, but it does make some quite af­ford­able door and win­dow sen­sors that only cost about $40 each – although you’ll need an Ap­ple TV or Home Pod to re­lay alerts to you if you’re away from home.

We’ve also heard that Ring is adding Home Kit sup­port to its out­door Flood­light Cam ($249) and Ring Pro video door­bell ($249) towards the end of the year. Also bear in mind the pop­u­lar range of Au­gust Smart Locks, with the latest sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion ver­sion cost­ing £229.

See­ing the light

One area in which Home Kit has tra­di­tion­ally been well-sup­ported is light­ing. Philips dom­i­nates the smart light­ing mar­ket with its Hue range of lights, and has sup­ported Home Kit right from the start. The Hue range is a great place to start with Home Kit, as it in­cludes ev­ery­thing from a sim­ple starter kit with two plain white light bulbs ($65), to mood-set­ting “am­biance” lights and lamps, and even color-chang­ing lamps and light strips that you can stick on the wall at party time. Other at­trac­tive smart lights launched re­cently in­clude Nanoleaf’s mod­u­lar and mul­ti­col­ored Aurora Smarter Kit ($220), which con­sists of a se­ries of tri­an­gu­lar pan­els that you can click to­gether like Le­gos in or­der cre­ate your own light­ing de­signs. Even big names like Ikea are get­ting in on the act, with plans to add Home Kit to its Tråd­fri range of smart lights later this year (from $80 for the starter kit).

Ther­mostats are a pop­u­lar choice for many home users too, par­tic­u­larly the ecobee3 smart ther­mo­stat at $169, and the ecobee4 which also in­cor­po­rates Ama­zon Alexa for a more costly $249. A pro­gram­mable smart ther­mo­stat should help you to save money on your en­ergy bills, but Home Kit takes things fur­ther, as it al­lows you to link the ther­mo­stat to other de­vices – per­haps turn­ing your heat­ing and Philips Hue lights all on at the same time when you come home in the evening. If you re­ally want to get clever, Honey­well’s re­cently re­leased Lyric T6 Pro ther­mo­stat ($80) has a ge­olo­ca­tion fea­ture that al­lows it to mon­i­tor the lo­ca­tion of your iPhone. That means it can turn on the heat­ing or cool­ing min­utes be­fore you ac­tu­ally get home to make sure that all is balmy or chilled as you walk in.

A pro­gram­mable smart-ther­mostats hould help save money on en­ergy bils

It’s a shame that Tado’s Smart AC Con­trol doesn’t sup­port Home Kit, un­like its Smart Ther­mo­stat (which is de­signed for ra­di­a­tor-based heat­ing sys­tems and isn’t avail­able in the US). In­deed, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple’s of­fi­cial list at

ap­ple.co/2qiCvI7, only the in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive De’Longhi MDH heater/cooler does. So, in terms of cool­ing, you’re look­ing at ceil­ing fans with Home Kit sup­port – specif­i­cally those from Hunter, such as the Sig­nal ($349) or Apache ($399).

As well as adding sup­port for video, the ios 10 up­date for Home Kit added a num­ber of other de­vices too, in­clud­ing air con­di­tion­ing, air pu­ri­fiers, and hu­mid­i­fiers – so you can ex­pect to see more of those on the way. We’ve seen a new de­vice called IT4 WI-FI ( nice­foryou.com, price to be an­nounced), which can con­trol your garage doors. Other forth­com­ing de­vices in that cat­e­gory in­clude the Lift Mas­ter My Q con­troller and Home Bridge ( lift­mas­ter.com).

With Home Kit and ge­olo­ca­tion built in, the IT4 WI-FI can spot you pulling into your drive­way, open the garage doors, and then tell your Home Pod to turn on the lights and ad­just the heat­ing too. Let’s see Alexa giv­ing that a spin…

Philips’ Hue and Friends of Hue lights have long worked with HomeKit.

Philips’ Hue Bridge re­lays HomeKit com­mands to con­nected lights.

The wired ver­sion of Log­itech’s new Cir­cle 2 cam­era.

Honey­well’s Lyric T6 Pro ther­mo­stat can al­ter heat­ing based on your lo­ca­tion.

D-Link’s Omna 180 was the first cam­era to sup­port HomeKit.

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