Getting Started with Apple HomeKit Devices

Apple HomeKit on iOS, Apple Watch, and HomePod
Easily control your home accessories from your favorite Apple products. Apple Inc.

HomeKit is Apple’s custom solution for controlling smart home devices including light bulbs, door locks, security cameras, and more via your existing Apple gadgets such as an iPhone, iPad, or HomePod. HomeKit isn't something you buy, exactly. HomeKit is what Apple calls the entire way iOS will talk to "smart" devices. The smart devices are hardware items you'll buy: bulbs, locks, etc.

It is important to note that smart devices designed only for HomeKit cannot be controlled via non–Apple devices such as Windows PCs or Android smartphones and tablets, so if you are not an Apple user then you may want to check out an alternative solution such as the Amazon Echo. Many smart devices can be used with HomeKit and something else. Like with everything, read the fine print on the item before puchasing.

However, if the thought of using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to control your home accessories interests you, and your digital life rotates around Apple, then you may have found an excellent solution with HomeKit.

Building Your New Smart Home

Apple TV with HomeKit Abilities
Easily control your home using your favorite Apple devices. Apple Inc.

To get started, you will need to purchase HomeKit compatible accessories; these include an array of home devices including lights, switches, outlets, thermostats, fans, speakers, doorbells, cameras, and more. Any accessories that are designed to work with Apple’s home automation software will be marked with a ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ sticker on the box. You can locate these types of gadgets at your local Apple store or most big–box electronic retailers.

For those overwhelmed with the number of accessories available for HomeKit, an excellent place to start is with your home lighting. The most popular lighting solution remains Phillip’s Hue bulbs which can be purchased in bundles – merely install the new high–tech light bulbs into your existing lamps, and you are off to the races.

Once you have selected a HomeKit accessory, the best way to begin is to download the manufacture’s application from the App Store. For example, if we purchased a collection of Phillips Hue bulbs, we would start by downloading the official Phillips Hue app. The app will walk you through setting up the hardware for the first time and ensuring everything is updated. That’s right, in the future, even your lightbulbs need software updates.

Utilizing Apple’s HomeKit App

Apple HomeKit App on iPhone
Create different rooms to organize all of your household accessories. Apple Inc.

Now that we have established that your accessories can be controlled via the manufacturer’s app, it is time to fully set up your new acquisition via the Apple HomeKit application. If you haven’t deleted the app from your iPhone or iPad, you can find it as a white icon with an orange and yellow home. If you have already removed it from your device, you can require for no cost from the App Store by searching for ‘HomeKit.’

As you assemble your HomeKit devices, you may find that many of them come from different manufacturers. Instead of needing to switch between a number of endless apps to control your home, you will see that all HomeKit accessories are now collected nicely within the HomeKit application itself. As a result, any devices you have already set up should now be visible.

Using the Edit Button in the application’s upper right–hand corner, you can then tap on any device and rename as you see fit or change what room you have it registered within your home. It is essential to begin organizing your HomeKit devices immediately so that you don’t find your digital house cluttered and disorganized down the road.

Setting Up Automated Scenes

Apple HomeKit Scene Arriving Home
Creating HomeKit scenes can make controlling your favorite accessories a snap. Apple Inc.

One of the essential aspects to setting up your new digital HomeKit residence is to create what Apple calls scenes; these are groupings of various accessories so that you can easily control multiple devices with the tap of a button. You can begin creating these scenes by heading to the Room Tab at the bottom of the HomeKit application and then selecting the ‘+’ symbol in the upper right–hand corner. Let’s take a look at a few example scenes that might prove to be useful.

Arrive Home: A typical scene to set up is one that automatically responds to you arriving at your household. You may opt to create a scene that seamlessly turns on your home’s lights, unlock’s your front door, and turns on the thermostat to a set the perfect temperature when you arrive.

Movie Time: Everyone enjoys a good film from time to type. Create a scene that automatically lowers the lights and turns on your home theater when it is time to settle into a great flick. Watching a horror film? Have HomeKit lock your front door just to be safe.

Date Night: Ready to impress your new date with your fancy HomeKit setup? Create a scene to change your light’s colors for better ambiance, adjust the thermostat to the perfect temperature, and have your stereo switch on for some classic Barry White – or The Weekend, if that is your preference.

Expanding Your Personal HomeKit

Apple HomeKit Kitchen Scene
Consider different HomeKit scenes for the different areas of your house. Apple Inc.

HomeKit is most efficient when you consider purchasing accessories that make your life easier. Not everyone may have as much use with automated window blinds or humidifiers as other individuals. Setting up a smart home can be an expensive endeavor, so begin working room by room and adding on the pieces you find will affect your life the most. With over fifty manufacturers producing HomeKit devices, there is a ton of selection.

Now that you’ve purchased a few accessories set each device up within the manufacture’s app, and further customized their usefulness through the Apple HomeKit application, it is time to understand the many ways you can keep control over your home. The primary method, which we have already discussed, is merely opening the HomeKit app and tapping on your intended gadget. However, with other Apple devices in your home – there are more options available.

As long as you are signed into all of your Apple devices with your Apple ID, then the information from HomeKit should be shared amongst your iPhones and iPads; this means that you have access to that precious HomeKit application from more than one device. If you have an Apple Watch, you can even find a smaller version of the app included on there.

Other Apple devices that can control HomeKit are your Apple TV (fourth generation or later) and an Apple HomePod speaker. To issue a command via these devices, or even across your iPad or iPhone, just conjure up Siri and state your request.

If Siri fails to understand your appeal, make sure that you are referencing the device by what you named it within the HomeKit app – it must be the exact phrase specified. For example, ‘Turn off the den lights’ and “Turn off the den lights’ are two different commands.

Control your Devices While You’re Away

Apple HomeKit with Apple TV and HomePod Hub
Use an Apple TV or HomePod to act as your HomeKit hub when you are away. Apple Inc.

Lastly, if you have an Apple TV or HomePod within your house, HomeKit will automatically set up the devices to act as hubs so that you can issue remote commands to your home even when you aren’t physically there. The usefulness of a hub becomes apparent when you want to change the temperature or double check that your front door is locked when you are away.

That’s all there is to HomeKit. Purchase the devices that you find would fit your home best and begin creating a smarter home with your Apple devices. Need more assistance? We recommend visiting Apple’s Support website or stopping by your local Apple Store for more hands–on assistance and help with purchasing your first HomeKit device.