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
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.
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.