Zamen | زامن
Smart Home Diary: Getting started with HomeKit
London is my favorite place in the world, but there are a few downsides to living here – and one of those is that some tech takes a while to cross the Atlantic. HomeKit was one example. Different plug sockets and using 240v instead of 110v means that we needed to wait for UK-specific versions of HomeKit-compatible kit.
I also had various items of non-compatible Smart Home technology that made it a little financially painful to go all-in on HomeKit. I was, for example, an early adopter of WeMo, with a socket switch for each of my standard lamps, all of which needed to be replaced.
But no self-respecting gadget lover could pass up the opportunity for voice-control – and that, plus the greater capabilities, eventually made the switch to HomeKit irresistible. This piece doubles as a diary of my own experiences and a how-to guide to getting started with HomeKit …
For anyone who hasn't yet paid much attention to it – which may include some of my fellow Brits – HomeKit is a platform that allows a single Home app to control all your (compatible) home automation products. Even better, you can also control them via Siri, providing voice control of all your smart home technology.
HomeKit devices also support a concept called Scenes, where a single command can control a whole series of devices. For example, you could have one called Arrive Home which switches on selected lights and another called Leave Home that switches everything off. More on this later.
HomeKit compatibility also provides much easier setup than ye olde home automation kit, which typically involves temporarily connecting to a WiFi hotspot created by a product and persuading it to connect to your router. While some products handle this process better than others, setup can range from the mildly annoying to the intensely frustrating.
HomeKit setup is handled by iOS rather than directly by whatever app came with the device, so it's the same process for each. In general, you tell the app to add an accessory, wait for it to find it and then use the camera to scan a code from a label printed on the device in order to allow iOS to take care of the rest.
HomeKit also allows for data to be sent back from devices, so my plug sockets, for example, report back on electricity usage and running costs.