If you’re trying to decide whether to use the Apple Smart ‘Home’ App that appeared from nowhere in Apple iOS10! you’re in the right place.
In this article, I’m going to cover the steps that I implemented to fully utilize the new Apple Home App.
What is Home?
More and more people are getting curious about the ‘Home’ app icon that has taken centre stage in the most recent version of iOS. The Home app is embedded into the iOS and Watch operating systems.
The Home app acts as a control center and lets you turn on lights, unlock doors, and even raise your window shades — all at once if you like.
Key Benefits of the Apple Home App
Here are examples of some Home features that you may not know about:
The Home app interface is clean, has a modern look, simple to use and supports the recognizable ‘wibbly wobbly’ icon drag-and-drop functionality familiar to all iOS users.
Home is a unified app that acts as a centralized hub to manage all your HomeKit compatible connected devices. No more need for need for countless proprietary apps.
Home fully supports 3D Touch functionality (new technology senses how deeply users press the display). This capability allows you to quickly adjust temperature, color, and brightness levels.
Home also lets you personalize the app experience through changeable wallpapers that are applied in the background. For instance, you can apply a unique wallpaper to each room.
Notes is an unusual yet innovative feature that allows family members to input little messages that can be viewed by anyone who has access to the Home app. This capability is popular amongst landlords who own HomeKit controlled properties and want to leave notes for their tenants.
Notifications and alerts to your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch are supported for certain HomeKit-enabled smart home products.
8 Steps to Setting up Your New Apple Home App
In an effort to increase awareness of Home app, I recorded the installation and configuration of my Apple HomeKit journey.
Dubbed project ‘Applification’, the process involved eight distinctive steps as follows:
1) Ensured That a Fast & Reliable Wi-Fi Network was in Place
Our home network needed to deliver reliable connectivity to HomeKit devices that rely on Wi-Fi for communication.
As a first step, I upgraded my home Wi-Fi system to support the new Apple based automation system.
2) Installed Apple Homekit Smart Plugs
Smart plugs are simple devices that plug into an electrical outlet. In late November I installed an HomeKit compliant plug and configured using the Apple Home App.
Initially, I used it to turn a projector of ours on and off, but when the Christmas tree arrived; I used the outlet to control the Christmas Lights with my iPhone.
3) Installed Homekit Smart Lighting
Cost savings, improved home safety, easy setup and having fun controlling lights on your smartphone are the key benefits of smart bulbs.
We already own a range of Philips Hue HomeKit compliant smart bulbs; so, adding smart lighting to my Home app was easy and straightforward.
The only thing that did take some time was applying names to each of the smart bulbs and assigning to the different rooms around the house.
Check out this video from the Build Your Own Smart Home Automation System Using Apple HomeKit Products course, where I show you how to setup smart bulbs in Home.
4) Installed a HomeKit Smart Thermostat
The O’Driscoll household is already populated with Google Nest smart thermostats and indeed Nest Protects, thus the installation of a new HomeKit enabled smart thermostat was a little bit on the tricky side.
The steps involved with connecting a smart thermostat from Netatmo to our furnace (boiler).
For the physical install, I opted to use a registered electrician to take care of the wiring and hooking up the actuator (comes with the Netatmo thermostat). I then set about using Home to pair the new thermostat, making it controllable within the Home App.
Here are some of the best features of the Netatmo thermostat that I like a lot:
The design of the thermostat itself is pretty unique and elegant.
It integrates nicely into various scenes and automations setup here at the O’Driscoll household.
It has some nice scheduling capabilities.
Check out this video, where I show the setup within the Home App of the Netatmo thermostat.
5) Added Various Homekit Security Sensors to Different Areas
Over the past number of years’ sensors have been key building blocks of the O’Driscoll smart home.
With project ‘Applification’ of our home! I decided to use Door & Window Sensors from two separate suppliers, namely Eve and Fibaro.
Eve Door Sensor: Setting up this sensor was relatively easy and I used the Home app rather than Elgato’s native app to pair the sensor with our smart home. Mounting was a bit more involved because the magnet and the sensor are not aligned (door and frame are at different levels), so ended up using some spacers with did come with the sensor itself. Check out this video, where I show you the setup in more detail.
Fibaro Motion Sensor: I love the Fibaro motion sensor! It sits in a prime location of our house and not only monitors for motion during our times away from home but also provides light levels and local temperature levels. So far, these are the features of the Fibaro motion sensor, that I love the most:
I can view the current state of motion sensor within the Apple Home app.
The setup and pairing process was simple.
Detects motion, light intensity and room temperature. Not sure, how I’m going to use the light intensity and temperature data but will certainly be using motion to increase security levels and improve energy efficiency.
It looks great in the kitchen and the kids love the flashing lights from the eye when they mess in front of it.
6) Added a Smart Water Sensor to the Configuration
If you have an area of the house like we have that worries you in terms of water leakage (the washing machine in the utility room is right next to our rack of A/V equipment); then install a sensor that will send a notification once water is detected.
7) Setup Remote Access to the O’Driscoll Household
Either an Apple TV or an iPad capable of running iOS 10 is required to access the features of our newly created HomeKit powered system when away from home. In our case, I decided to use an Apple TV box. The configuration was relatively easy to setup and involved logging in and out of my iCloud account a few times.
8) Living in Our New Apple Smart Home
Once I had all the HomeKit compliant gadgets in place and ‘paired’ with the Home App on my iPhone. I started to tweak and refine
Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been doing in recent times to optimise the Home App for daily family life:
Personalizing & Organizing the Home App – This involved creating a custom name for our home, adding rooms to Home app, assigning smart home products to each of the rooms and customizing the look and feel of the various IoT devices within the Home app.
Setting up some Apple HomeKit Scenes – Apple HomeKit systems allow you to set up “scenes” that will increase comfort levels at home. This is an ongoing process as regards how we utilize this feature to enhance the family’s convenience levels.
Setting up different types of Automations – To be honest, we are under-utiliizing this powerful feature at the moment. Over the coming weeks, I plan to really bring our smart home to life through the use of the automation feature included in the Home App.
How Are You Planning to Use the New Apple Home App?
The great thing about the new Home App for me is that it centralises control and management of our smart home. Each of the smart home products that I mentioned in this tutorial are awesome by themselves, that fact that they all interconnect under the Home App with each other means you can really take smart home automation to the next level.