|At a glance|
|Product||Apple Home () [Website]|
|Summary||Feature in Apple iOS 10 to control HomeKit devices|
|Pros||• Installs most HomeKit devices using a common installation interface|
• Easy to navigate
• Customizable Home screen with favorite devices, scenes, and status
• Accessory icons show device status
|Cons||• iOS 10 only|
• Must have Apple TV or iOS 10.x device activated as a hub to create automation tasks
• Application controls and uses only basic features of more advanced accessories.
• Firmware upgrades must use the manufacturer's app
• Complex automation may require using manufacturer's app to create
• Requires Apple TV or dedicated on-site iPad as hub for remote access
Typical Price: $0
HomeKit's rollout hasn't been as fast as one would expect for a company with Apple's clout. First, HomeKit certified devices were slow to make it to market. Since 2015, I've reviewed only two HomeKit compatible products, the Insteon Hub Pro - a hub that bridges between Insteon networks and HomeKit devices and iHome's ISP5 SmartPlug - a simple HomeKit certified "smart" outlet.
The other stumbling block for HomeKit was the absence of a unifying HomeKit app from Apple. If you installed hardware from more than one manufacturer, you were stuck using each manufacturer's app to control the product. This was demonstrated in my recent review of three HomeKit Smart Plugs with power monitoring capabilities. That review was written using an iOS 9.3.5 iPad and relied on the applications supplied for each device.
But HomeKit finally appears to have matured enough for Apple to make it a key feature in iOS 10. The new Home app claims to eliminate the need for third party apps by providing full-featured control of all HomeKit certified products.
Since many of the features across the products are common to the HomeKit Platform, before delving into the individual products, let's take a look at general Pros and Cons of the HomeKit platform.
|HomeKit At a Glance|
|Pros||• Siri Voice control of zones, rooms, devices, scenes, and automation tasks
• Wi-Fi devices do not require a hub
• Unified iOS Home app (iOS 10 only)
• Secure peer-to-peer communication between HomeKit devices and iOS device
• Works without an Internet connection
• Simple setup
• Stores HomeKit data in iCloud
|Cons||• iOS devices only - Android not supported
• Remote access requires a dedicated local iOS 10 device or an Apple TV
• No Apple Home support for iOS versions before iOS 10
• Can be controlled by only one "Master" iOS device or invited guests
• No email, SMS or in-app notifications
In this review, I'm putting Apple Home to the test by using the three smart outlets from my previous review and adding a few other devices to the mix. Here's the list:
- Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet
- Elgato eve energy Switch & Power Meter
- Koogeek Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Plug P1
- iHome ISP5 SmartPlug
- Elgato Eve Room
- Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit
- Incipio Smart Light Bulb Adapter With Dimming
While we previously reviewed Philips' Hue starter kit, the Philips kit used in this review has a HomeKit capable hub. The Elgato Eve Room sensor is a battery-powered Bluetooth device that monitors temperature, humidity and air quality. Finally, the Incipio Smart Light Bulb Adapter is a HomeKit-enabled Wi-Fi device that screws into a light socket. Screw any dimmable bulb into the adapter, and you can control it
I will attempt to install all devices using the Home app and test the features of the devices to see if the Home app really can be the one to rule them all.
The blank page shown at the top of the review will appear when you first open the Apple Home app if you haven't previously installed any HomeKit devices. Otherwise, previously installed HomeKit devices should appear. (Apple refers to HomeKit devices as "Accessories"; I'll be using both terms interchangeably.)
Setting up new HomeKit accessories using the Home app is very simple. Just tap the "+" key in the upper right corner and select Add Accessory. A discovery screen will appear and find any unconfigured HomeKit devices. Then select the device you want to add. You may be prompted to allow the device to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
Next, you either manually enter the eight digit HomeKit code, or use the camera on your iOS device to scan the number from a label that's included with the product. An "Add Accessory" screen lets you rename the accessory, place the accessory in a room, define the accessory type, and include the accessory as a favorite on your home page. The process is virtually identical for all HomeKit accessories. It takes longer to remove a HomeKit device from its packaging than to configure it.
Though setup involves just a few steps, I've included a short gallery below to show how it looks. Remember, the process is the same for most products.
You may have noticed I said "most products". Of the seven products I attempted to install, five of them installed using the Apple Home app. For the Philips product, since it had a hub that needed to be configured separately, I first set up the hub, allowed it to update its firmware, then discover the two lightbulbs. Once the hub and lights were working within the Philips app, Apple Home discovered the Philips Hub as a HomeKit accessory as well as its two connected light bulbs.
I attempted to install the Elgato eve room accessory but ran into a hitch. The Apple Home app found the device and successfully paired it, but then jumped to the red screen below.
Apple HomeKit won't update accessory firmware
While it added the device to the Home screen the icon showed "Unknown, Not Supported".
eve room accessory not supported until firmware upgraded
After upgrading the firmware using the Elgato Eve app, the three sensors in eve room accessory (temperature, humidity, and air quality) each appeared as separate read-only icons.