HomeKit: The networked caretaker

HomeKit is a software framework released by Apple in September 2014. Programmers use this framework to develop applications. HomeKit is supported on iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. Mac users will receive HomeKit support this fall with macOS Mojave, the latest version of the macOS operating system that is currently beta tested.

For all HomeKit applications that a user loads, there is a single point of contact: the home app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. It also sets up and controls Smart Home products that are HomeKit certified.

The certification is done by Apple itself, checks the encryption and equips licensed products with an MFi certificate, which you also see on the packaging of HomeKit compatible products.

Around 50 manufacturers are already building on HomeKit compatibility

Meanwhile, the corresponding certification has also been relaxed. Accessory manufacturers no longer have to rely on the MFi chip to establish a communication connection. This is now also possible via a software protocol. In the future, many smart home products, which were previously sold without a HomeKit certificate, will be upgraded with a software update for HomeKit. Provided that the respective providers are willing to upgrade the corresponding products.

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The key benefit that HomeKit brings is intelligent automation: Actions can be automatically controlled via the home app or third-party applications – or, more conveniently, by voice commands via Apple’s voice assistant Siri. This applies to all rooms in the apartment or in the house or for the HomeKit products used there.

Around 50 manufacturers already offer HomeKit-compatible products – in 17 categories: lights, switches, sockets, thermostats, windows, fans, air conditioners, humidifiers, air purifiers, speakers, sensors, security, locks, cameras, doorbells, garage doors and bridges, which serve as a hub.

HomeKit divides products into rooms

Another practical thing: you can make the control room by room in the home app, because the app groups the products for rooms such as bedroom, living room, kitchen or bathroom. So a short voice command is enough for Siri and in the desired room, for example, the heating is switched on or the light is switched on, without you having to do more than activate Siri or do the input with a short tap on the screen. So you also ensure the closing of the garage gate, without having to leave the house.

With over 50 manufacturers and countless products, the range of accessories has become a bit confusing. The following HomeKit certified products are just a small selection, suitable for beginners and advanced users, who make you a networked janitor.

Philips Hue for the light

The mother of all HomeKit-enabled smart home products is Philips Hue. Expanded over the years with countless products, the lighting division of Philips focuses on lighting in all its variants, from the starter set with two or three bulbs and Bridge to the Lightstrip, which serves as a light strip for decoration, to Hue garden spotlights, mobile Luminaires like Hue Go, table lamps like Hue Iris or the Beyond ceiling lamp (prices for lamps from approx. 25 Euro up to individual lamps around 500 Euro).

Philips Hue
(Photo: Philips)

Velux Active for the roof

Especially in loft apartments or the upper floors of houses jams the heat. Many residents rely on Velux shutters and sunscreen. With the “Velux Active” system, which is currently being presented in cooperation with Netatmo, temperature, CO 2 values ​​and air humidity are monitored. Depending on the measured values, the roof window can be opened and closed via HomeKit (approx. 250 Euro).

  • Velux Active 1
    (Photo: Velux)
  • Velux Active 2
    (Photo: Velux)

Nanoleaf Remote for the whole house

With “Nanoleaf Remote” not only decorative Aurora Light Panels can be controlled, but virtually all the HomeKit equipment. You can roll the product you want to control next, because the Nanoleaf is actually a twelve-sided die. It is controlled by simply turning. In each case, the hexagon on top allows the switching of desired scenes and automatisms (approx. 60 Euro).

  • Nanoleaf Remote 1
    (Photo: Nanoleaf)
  • Nanoleaf Remote 2
    (Photo: Nanoleaf)

Eve for heating, windows, garden and more

Elgato Systems has just become Eve in the smart home segment. Elgato has sold its streaming accessory division Elgato Gaming and now focuses entirely on Connected Home. The choice: Eve Thermo controls the heating with HomeKit, Eve Energy the power consumption with the socket, Eve Aqua takes over the watering of the garden, Eve Flare as the portable light the light control indoor and outdoor, Eve Degree uses the weather data, Eve Door & Windows act as smart contact sensors for windows and doors (open and check if they are closed), Eve Smoke reports smoke and heat to the home app and Eve Room controls the room climate (depending on the module 40 to about 100 euros) ,

Eve radiator thermostat
(Photo: Eve)

Tradfri for Köttbullar fans

Even IKEA has entered the market with HomeKit-compatible luminaires – the Tradfri series was originally planned for spring 2017, in November 2017 it was time. The lamps, sets, light doors and light panels are not quite mature, but this year there were problems with the firmware again: The lamps lost the connection to the home app again and again. Meanwhile, the bugs are largely eliminated (from about 25 euros).

Ikea Tradfri
(Photo: IKEA)

Netatmo for more security

Netatmo, like Philips Hue, is now a classic – especially with the Netatmo Welcome and Netatmo Presence security cameras. The welcome is intended for the interior. Thanks to facial recognition, it can identify strangers around the clock in Full HD. The videos can be saved for free. The Presence is an intelligent outdoor lighting that even monitors individual zones, for example in the garden. It combines outdoor light and security camera (about 200 or 300 euros).

  • Netatmo Welcome
    (Photo: Netatmo)
  • Netatmo Presence
    (Photo: Netatmo)

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