Apple’s new Home app aims to allow users to control their smart heating, lighting and home security all from one place. Will this help streamline the smart home experience?
Smart home technology has become confusing, with so many products available from a huge range of brands, all doing a myriad of different things. This makes controlling them, which for most you have to do via separate apps, rather messy. The Apple Home app aims to solve this by allowing you to control everything from one place.
More than 50 brands have already signed up their smart products to connect with the Apple Home app, including Philips Hue lighting, Canary All-in-One home security, and smart thermostat systems from Hive, Elgato and Netatmo.
If you’re intrigued but confused by smart home technology, visit our smart home automation guide to understand how it all works, what’s available and what the benefits and drawbacks are.
How does the Apple Home app work?
The Home app works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and you will need to have downloaded the latest software update, iOS 10. You can only use the app with HomeKit-enabled products, the name of the framework Apple has used to allow products to connect together.
To set it up, there are a few steps you’ll need to go through first, such as allowing the Home app to use your location. You’ll then need to add each product in turn, which the app calls accessories.
You can personalise the platform, for example giving accessories names, and organise them into categories, or “scenes.” This allows you to control your home room-by-room, or by a what you want them to do at a certain point, such when you leave the house.
You can also use Siri to operate your connected accessories with voice commands. So if, for example, you’re about to go to bed, you might ask Siri to ‘turn off all lights in the house’ or ‘activate sleep scene,’ so everything you need is done at once.
Smart home hubs
With manufacturers being aware that the smart home market needs to become more simplistic and less cluttered, other brands have released similar products that help to group smart appliance together so they can be controlled from a single place.
For example, the Samsung Smart Things hub, which primarily works as a security system with connected door and motion sensors, also connects products from other brands, such as Yale smart locks and LIFX lighting systems, all together. Amazon will also soon launch the Amazon Echo, which will allow you to control a range of smart devices through voice commands.
But many of these hubs are pricey – the basic Samsung hub package costs £199, while the Apple Home app is free. However, the Apple Home app can only be used on the Apple iSO operating system, while many of these hubs operate on Android and Windows, so what you choose will in part come down to what technology you already use.