The internet has been a part of our lives for a few decades now, but for the most part, not a lot of things have changed. Apart from the rise of apps and social media, the internet has mainly been a product made accessible by devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that’s set to change.
If you’re a keen techie, you’ll no doubt have heard of the Internet of Things. While it sounds nothing more than a confusing tech term, it actually has big consequences for us all. Essentially, it refers to a whole manner of products being connected to the internet, from fridges to cars. And pundits believe that over the next few years, we’ll see even more internet-connected objects come to fruition.
In fact, according to Cisco, there could be 50 billion things connected to the internet by 2020. And the IoT industry will also generate trillions in profit annually. Although the benefits of connected technology will be felt in many areas, the home will benefit from it hugely. It’s where we spend most of our lives when we’re not working, and it’s generally the place where we feel the most comfortable.
What is HomeKit?
Our homes are growing ever smarter, and Apple is one of the tech giants betting on the potential IoT offers in our homes and personal lives. That’s exactly why it launched HomeKit, a framework that developers can use to enable their smart products to be controlled via an iOS app, either from inside or outside of a user’s home, in 2014.
HomeKit was first introduced during WWDC in June 2014, and during WWDC 2016Apple unveiled its new Home app, which arrived in iOS 10. The Home app on your iPhone places the controls for any HomeKit products you own into one simple-to-use app.
HomeKit is Apple’s own smart home IoT framework. Built for manufacturers and developers, it can turn the iPhone into a smart home remote. With HomeKit functionality, you’re able to control smart home products through iOS apps and Siri voice commands.
What is the Home app on the iPhone?
Home is an Apple app, available for your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, that lets you control all of your HomeKit products. With Home, you’ll be able manage each of your smart products from one app, and even create Scenes and Room presets. Scenes can include “Leaving home”, for example, which would turn off the lights, lock your doors and lower the temperature in the home. Home works with Siri, too, so you could say “Good night” to set the Bedtime scene, or “Lock the front door” if you’re already in the car or in bed.
HomeKit has been around for a few years now, so as you can imagine, there are more products out there that can work with the platform. From smart thermostats to connected lightbulbs, this technology has matured and there’s so much more you can do with it. We look at the best, most innovative HomeKit-enabled products available on the market today.
Not every smart gadget works with HomeKit and the Home app. It’s important to look for HomeKit-compatible products with the little yellow house symbol. Here, to get your started, we’ve gathered some of the best Internet of Things devices for your smart home – those that are compatible with HomeKit, those that are likely to get HomeKit support in the future, and those that can be controlled via their own apps on iPhone or iPad. We specify how each device is controlled next to its write-up.
What are the best smart home devices for Apple Home?
We have a selection of some of the best accessories that work with HomeKit below, but you can also take a look on Apple’s website to see some of the newest home automation products that are hitting the market with HomeKit support. See: HomeKit accessories.
The Apple web page links to the store so you can see which Apple Home Kit accessories are available in the UK – unfortunately there are a lot of accessories available in the US that aren’t available here. You will also see that some accessories are ‘announced’ while others are ‘Coming soon’.
There is also a ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ logo that you should start to see in shops. This indicates that a product can be controlled with the Apple Home app.
Search the Apple Store for HomeKit accessories you can buy in the UK here: Apple UK HomeKit devices.
Thermostats & heating
It’s brilliantly convenient being able to monitor and control the temperature of your house while you’re out – turning on the heating when you’re 20 minutes from your front door on a freezing-cold evening, for instance, or just checking you remembered to turn it off when you’re halfway to the airport.
Apple includes a number of HomeKitc-compliant thermostats, such as the Honeywell Lyric T6R, the Netatmo Thermostat, and the Elgato Eve Wireless Room Sensor.
Want to keep an eye on your house from your desk? HomeKit cameras and related security products include the D-Link Omna 180 Cam and the Elgato Eve Motion Sensor.
Perfect for adding the finishing atmospheric touch to a Scene: lower the lights for your chill-out preset, turn off the downstairs lights when you activate “Bedtime” and so on. HomeKit lights include the Philips Hue White Ambiance Lighting Starter Kit.
What smart home devices don’t work with Apple Home? Does Nest work with Home Kit?
Unfortunately one of the most popular thermostatic devices don’t work with Apple Home and may never do so.
Nest doesn’t work with HomeKit. However, the myHome Plus app, available from the App Store, lets you control Apple HomeKit accessories, as well as the Nest Thermostat. Get the myHome Plus app here.
All of the devices we look at below can be controlled via an iOS device, but not all of them are compatible with HomeKit and the Home app. We indicate whether a product is HomeKit-certified in each entry. Some of the products their own dedicated app that you’ll need to download to control the device; in every case these apps are free.