A regularly updated stream of HomeKit and HomeKit-enabled accessory news!
Thanks to Apple's HomeKit framework, dozens of companies can create smart home products that work together in a secure, user friendly way. From the HomeKit pairing process to the use of iPads and Apple TVs as HomeKit hubs within the home, Apple has crafted an elegant way to control your smart home products. The framework's popularity means news about HomeKit and HomeKit-enabled devices breaks all the time; bookmark this page and check back regularly for the latest, greatest, or most outrageous smart home news.
May 17, 2017 - Logitech POP Smart Button now available in Apple Stores and online
Logitech's new HomeKit-enabled smart button, the Logitech POP, is now available for purchase in Apple retail stores. The Logitech POP Smart Button Kit includes an updated HomeKit-enabled bridge that enables both Siri voice control and interactions via the Home app for iOS.
If you're eager to get your hands on the new POP and can't get to an Apple store, keep checking Apple's online store — Logitech says it plans to sell the POP in Apple's online store before it comes to other stores later this year.
You can also check Logitech's site where the updated POP kit is currently out of stock. You should be able to purchase the device when stock returns!
You can read more about the HomeKit enabled Logitech POP button here:
May 9, 2017 - Quadriplegic man uses HomeKit and Apple's accessibility integrations to improve his independence
NBC News published an empowering story about an IT consultant named Todd Stabelfeldt who uses Apple's HomeKit framework to live a more independent life. Stabelfeldt is a 38-year-old quadriplegic man who, as the result of an injury when he was eight years old, has had no movement below his shoulders for more than 30 years.
Using the HomeKit-enabled accessories in his self-titled, "Quadthedral" smart home, Stabelfeldt is able to leverage both Siri and Apple's Home app to go about his day:
Features like Apple's "Home" app allow Stabelfeldt to control a variety of smart accessories in his house — from door locks and window shades, to lights and his garage door. The best part for Stabelfeldt? He can command Apple's intelligent digital assistant Siri to work it all.
When he's not using his voice to control his smart home technology, Stabelfeldt makes use of Apple's Switch Control software which allows him to use special hardware for controlling iOS without the use of his hands.
It's really incredible seeing how Stabelfeldt has taken this technology and used it to not only increase his independence, but improve the way he works in his home. I encourage you to read the feature over on NBC News — it's a touching example of how tech can improve our lives and a reminder of what we sometimes take for granted. I think that sentiment is captured perfectly in what Apple's Sarah Herrlinger told NBC News:
For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity.
May 3, 2017 - ecobee announces Alexa- and HomeKit-enabled ecobee4 smart thermostat
The cat's out of the bag, folks, and the Alexa-enabled ecobee4 smart thermostat is very real and very awesome!
The ecobee4 comes with embedded microphones that feature far-field voice recognition (the same technology that makes the Amazon Echo hear you from across the room) and a speaker that makes Alexa sound loud and clear, despite coming from a thermostat fastened to your wall.
That means, on top of having all the same great features as the ecobee3 (HomeKit-enabled, satellite room sensors, energy-saving benefits), you can use the ecobee4 in the same way you'd use an Echo, Echo Dot, or Tap. Ask Alexa to set a timer, adjust the lighting, give you the steps to a recipe, play some jazz — you can do it all right from your smart thermostat.
Ecobee4 is available for pre-order at the moment; the Alexa-enabled smart thermostat will run you $249.
Ecobee teases HomeKit-enabled, Alexa-enabled ecobee4 smart thermostat
I just got an email this morning from Ecobee that's hinting at something big coming from the company on May 3. Here's an excerpt from the email along with an animated GIF that reveals something awfully familiar:
We've got something big in the works and we want you to be one of the first people to know what it is. Let's just say it's worth talking about.
Ecobee says it'll be making an announcement on its Facebook page via Facebook Live. You can keep an eye on Ecobee's Facebook page by Liking it. I'll update this post on May 3 with any details the company shares!
Alleged Ecobee 4 marketing materials leak
The Verge has just made my morning. The site shared a glorious discovery from Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny that suggests Ecobee's next smart thermostat is about to get a whole lot smarter. According to product marketing materials discovered by Zatz, the ecobee4 smart thermostat will feature Amazon's Alexa smart assistant.
Let me be clear: We're not talking Amazon Alexa support — the ecobee3 already features Alexa support — we're talking full-on, built-in Alexa. Zatz Not Funny recently shared FCC documents that show a speaker on the back of the device. The new marketing materials show an LED light strip across the top of the device that's reminiscent of other Alexa-Enabled devices. And lest ye think it'll just be a fancy way to adjust the temperature in your home, the marketing materials seem to suggest otherwise. From Zatz Not Funny:
Newly discovered ecobee4 product marketing materials confirm the presence of Alexa … to not only adjust one's temperature via speech recognition, but leverage many if not all of Amazon's voice assistant capabilities.
I may or may not have cursed excitedly when I came across this leak (I definitely did). My love for the ecobee3 Smart Thermostat is well-documented: It's a superior thermostat to the popular Nest Learning Thermostat, it's a HomeKit-enabled device, it features remote room sensors (that are also HomeKit-enabled), and it integrates with almost every smart home platform. That Ecobee might build Alexa into the device makes my love grow 10 sizes. I'm going to enjoy having Alexa in yet another place in my home, but I think there's something more important here: Folks who have yet to add an always-on smart assistant to their smart home setup can kill two smart birds with one smart stone. Thermostats are typically installed in centralized locations within the home; adding smart thermostat functionality and a voice-controlled assistant in a central location, all in one purchase is a fan-friggin'-tastic deal.
While we're on the subject of leaks and rumors, our friends at Thrifter have unearthed a nearly $60 discount on the ecobee3 smart thermostat. Could these ongoing discounts from ecobee be a sign that it's trying to clear out stock of the ecobee3 before launching ecobee4? 🤷♀️ I'm not sayin' … I'm just sayin'.
May 3, 2017 - Brookfield Residential will offer HomeKit compatibility as a standard in new builds
Homebuilding company Brookfield Residential says it will offer HomeKit compatibility in all new community builds as a standard. The Delano neighborhood in Irvine's Eastwood Village will be the first neighborhood to get HomeKit-enabled homes. Brookfield Residential will also offer HomeKit compatibility in the following neighborhoods:
- The Collection in Playa Vista
- Flora, Prado, and Haciendas at Escaya in Chula Vista
- Vientos, Candela, and Terracina at Rancho Tesoro in San Marcos
- Beverly at Eastwood in Irvine
- Citrus in Palm at Rosedale in Azusa
- Shutters at Edenglen in Ontario Ranch
While home owners will be able to add any HomeKit-enabled accessories to their home and count on compatibility with their system, Brookfield Residential will include the following accessories in new builds:
- Lutron Caseta lighting
- Honeywell Lyric T6 Smart WiFi Thermostat
- Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt
The homebuilder will also include Ubiquiti Wireless Access Points in the home to improve Wi-Fi performance for the HomeKit-enabled accessories and internet access.
Brookfield Residential says security is a huge advantage of Apple's HomeKit framework and third-party HomeKit-enabled accessories:
HomeKit's advantages extend to security and privacy, because communication from the iOS device and home accessories are encrypted, with all home data living privately on the device, not stored in the cloud.
You can read more about Brookfield Residential's connected home efforts here.
April 25, 2017 - Hubbell Inc. acquires iDevices
Hubbell Incorporated, which manufactures electrical and electronic products, has acquired iDevices, LLC. Why? Here's iDevices' explanation:
By joining the Hubbell family, iDevices secures the backing and capabilities of a well-established industry leader, while Hubbell strengthens its innovation engine with iDevices' knowledge and expertise in the connected Internet of Things marketplace.
iDevices makes my all-time favorite Wi-Fi smart switch and I couldn't help but panic when I heard the company had been acquired; I don't want anything to happen to the most reliable, most user-friendly, most aesthetically pleasing smart switch one could ask for!
Still, from the press release, it sounds like Hubbell is a good fit for the company:
Combining iDevices' experience in developing and designing smart home solutions with Hubbell's extensive expertise in manufacturing and distribution across residential, commercial and industrial markets will lay the perfect groundwork for a partnership in IoT at a significant scale.
In other words, Hubbell wants a little of the internet of things action in return for better distribution to customers both residential and commercial/industrial. Heck, as long as Hubbell's doing the IoT learning, I think iDevices is in good hands.
April 18, 2017 - Logitech announces the first HomeKit-enabled programmable button
Logitech just announced the first ever HomeKit-enabled programmable button, as an upgrade to the company's Logitech POP Smart Button.
A programmable button, in HomeKit terms, is a device that can trigger different scenes and actions for your various HomeKit-enabled accessories. Depending on the button, different gestures can trigger different actions. Put in physical terms, you hit the button and stuff happens in your house: You might have it set up to turn on all the lights in your kitchen, turn down the thermostat, or lock the front door — the possibilities are endless! The Logitech POP Smart Button is only the first HomeKit-enabled programmable button; you can bet more companies will create programmable buttons of their own.
The POP Smart Button is a tiny (2.36 in x 2.36 in) programmable button that comes in four colors: white, coral, teal, and alloy. To get things going you'll buy the POP Smart Button Starter Kit — that includes a white POP, a tiny white bridge device (same size as the POP), and mounting tape for stickin' your Smart Button wherever you'd like! After you've got a POP bridge, you can buy as many extra buttons you want in any of the colors I mentioned before. You won't have to buy a load of POPs to control a room, because each POP supports three separate actions: pressing once, pressing twice, and pressing and holding will all trigger different actions. You also won't have to buy a load of batteries to keep POP running. Logitech says the button's replaceable battery lasts about five years.
The HomeKit-enabled POP will support any HomeKit-enabled accessories. The POP also natively supports the following devices:
- Philips Hue bulbs
- Insteon bulbs
- LIFX bulbs
- Lutron lighting and shades
- Hunter-Douglas shades
- August Smart Lock
- Sonos speakers
- SmartThings hub
- Belkin WeMo
- IFTTT integrations
- Several Harmony remotes and hubs
So when and where can you get one? When? Logitech says soon. Where? The POP Smart Button Kit and POP Add-on Smart Buttons will, for a time, be exclusive to Apple stores and on Apple's site. The Kit and Buttons will hit other retailers later this year. As for price, the POP is actually one of the least-expensive HomeKit-enabled products I've come across!
- POP Smart Button Kit: $59.99
- Add-on POP Buttons: $39.99
You can check out this video for a demonstration of the Logitech POP Smart Button.
March 16, 2017 - HomeKit-enabled, WiFi-connected iLuv Rainbow8 bulbs now available
Underneath the Lights section on Apple's new HomeKit page several bulbs claim to be coming soon. The iLuv Rainbow8 bulb just beat the others to the punch. The Rainbow8 is a WiFi-connected, HomeKit-enabled bulb that's a lot like the Philips Hue White and Color bulb.
The iLuv Rainbow8 bulb is a 60W equivalent lightbulb — that means you're looking at a light output of 800 Lumens. And, just like any other LED bulb, you can count on upwards of 20,000 hours of bulb life. The bulbs can dim and change color. iLuv says there are more than 16 million possible colors to choose from.
I'm kind of in love with iLuv's method for communicating status. Here are a couple status messages and the way they're communicated with bulb colors:
- Searching for WiFi network: pulsating white color
- Reset WiFi router info: flashing five colors (red, yellow, green, blue and purple) then change to white color
- OTA firmware upgrade success: flashing green color
- OTA firmware upgrade failed: flashing red color
One of the things that sets this bulb apart (and one of the things iLuv keeps mentioning in its promotional copy) is its WiFi connectivity. Most smart bulbs use either Bluetooth LE or a bridge to send and receive communications. When you issue a command to your Philips Hue bulbs, you're actually issuing a command to the Philips Hue bridge. The bridge then tells the bulbs what they need to do. For Bluetooth LE, you're using a potentially less-reliable Bluetooth connection to control your bulbs — WiFi seems to handle interference and distance far better than Bluetooth LE.
The Rainbow8 bulb costs $49.99. That's comparable to a Philips Hue White and Color bulb, but there's something important to consider in comparing prices: A single Philips Hue White and Color bulb costs $49.99 but you still have to buy the Philips Hue bridge to control said light. When you buy the $49.99 Rainbow8 bulb, that's all you need to buy — it's one complete package — bulb and connectivity — per bulb.
March 10, 2017 - WeberHaus pre-fab homes to feature HomeKit control
Apple's been tackling HomeKit saturation on two fronts: product integration and home construction. As more and more HomeKit-enabled accessories hit the market, more and more home builders are offering HomeKit integration as part of the construction package.
WeberHaus, a European home manufacturer, is the latest home builder to offer HomeKit control. The company has been making pre-fabricated homes with connected home technology for some time, but later this year it'll offer pre-fab homes with built-in HomeKit control.
I have to say, I'm a little (a lot) jealous of the possibilities that a fully HomeKit-enabled home offers. Get a load of this line from the WeberHaus press release:
With the Apple Home app, and Siri, home owners can control main home systems like underfloor heating, blinds and the installed light system as well as additional HomeKit enabled accessories including light bulbs, smart plugs, radiator valves, sensors for measuring air quality and water leaks, and more.
In case that didn't quite sink in, you can control your doggone underfloor heating with your doggone iPhone and your doggone voice! Now that's the doggone future.
I've always held that the biggest hurdle for home automation is complete and total permeation within the home. You truly can't grasp the awesomeness that is the connected home until you've got all your lights, heating, locks, doors, windows, fans, etc. working together to offer you your personalized living experience. Turning on a single light bulb in your home with your phone is cool the first five or six times, but the real power is having an entire room activate as you enter it.
If I had a choice between slowly building out my connected home over time with individual products or buying an already outfitted connected home, I'd choose the latter. I haven't figured out a way (yet) to HomeKit enable my underfloor heating. With a pre-fab WeberHaus home, I wouldn't have to.
WeberHaus will be showing a demo house with HomeKit control at the "World of Living" exhibit in Rheinau-Linx. If you live anywhere nearby, I expect photos!
March 3, 2017 - Apple launches mini site devoted to HomeKit and the Home app
I've been waiting for Apple create its latest mini site since I first heard the word "HomeKit" way back in 2014. The site, lovingly nestled within the iOS section of Apple's site features a fun film that shows off some of the cool stuff you can do with HomeKit-enabled accessories, Siri, and the iOS Home app. Personally, I think the gal in the video has way too many HomeKit scenes, but that's neither here nor there.
If you're curious, you can check out the page at the following link. If you wanna know what you're getting yourself into first, read on!
The mini site is all about HomeKit, the Home app, and HomeKit-enabled accessories. It's dedicated to not only explaining what the heck that little orange, house-shaped tile on your iPhone is for, it's dedicated to explaining the benefits and possibilities of home automation with HomeKit and the Home app.
You can get a brief overview of the Home app, learn about HomeKit scenes, Siri voice control, HomeKit automations, HomeKit-enabled accessories, and home hubs. You can also get help with setup. Apple's linked to a support article with loads of information about setting up your various gadgets in the Home app.
Most importantly, there's now a page that shows all the HomeKit-enabled accessories approved by Apple. The page is beautifully designed and split into accessory type, so you can tap (or click) to jump to a specific section.
The list has links to the various accessories (YESSSS!) and offers up information about their availability. The availability tags include Announced and Coming Soon. It's not entirely clear what they mean, but we can use context clues to decipher:
- Announced: Either the product has been announced for the first time or HomeKit compatibility has been announced. I get the impression this means it'll be awhile before we see the product available for purchase.
- Coming soon: I take it this is a step above "Announced". The product (or HomeKit compatibility) is right around the corner. I wish I knew the exact timeframe, 'cause there are a few accessories on the list I'm eyeballing.
Apple's list of HomeKit-enabled accessories used to be buried in its vast Apple Support database. The page was a long, bulleted list (without links!) of available HomeKit-enabled accessories — upcoming accessories weren't listed. It also wasn't updated as often as HomeKit-enabled gadgetry was hitting the market.
This dedicated mini site coupled with Tim Cook describing his personal HomeKit setup in the last Apple earnings call gives me hope and loads of excitement for the future of HomeKit and Apple's Home app. I love having a connected home and it's clear Apple is committed to making the smart home all the more awesome.
February 15, 2017 - D-Link announces Omna 180 Cam, the first HomeKit-enabled security camera
This is not a drill! The first HomeKit-enabled camera has hit Apple's online store. D-Link's Omna 180 Cam is now available for purchase online and will soon be sold in Apple stores around the world.
The D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD is a HomeKit-enabled, 1080p HD camera that offers a unique 180º field of view.
The device features motion detection, two-way audio (i.e. a speaker and a microphone), a MicroSD card slot for local recording, IR LEDs for viewing in low-light conditions, and a very svelte metallic frame.
The D-Link Omna is your pretty standard package when it comes to in-home cameras, save for one detail: HomeKit support! D-Link has successfully taken the lead on the HomeKit-enabled security camera market.
I hope D-Link's win inspires more companies to get their cameras ship-shape and out on the market soon.
The D-Link Omna 180 Cam retails for $199.99 in the U.S.
January 12, 2017 - Ecobee makes Ecobee3's smart sensors HomeKit compatible
Ecobee is rolling out an update for its ecobee3 smart Wi-Fi thermostat that enables HomeKit compatibility for its motion and temperature sensors. Now you can use the individual sensors as HomeKit-enabled accessories of their own, increasing your home automation possibilities!
When it comes to smart thermostats, I'll say this time and time again: Ecobee's ecobee3 Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat is the best money can buy. Not only is it HomeKit-enabled (a must for me), but it also features a handy trick that many other thermostats don't: remote room sensors that keep track of temperature and motion in different locations within your home. Why is this important? Because not all rooms are heated (or cooled) equally — the sensor helps your thermostat understand the actual temperature throughout your home, not just the area around your thermostat.
One thing that disappointed me about the ecobee3, though, was that the temperature and motion sensing capabilities were walled off from HomeKit and the iOS Home app. Ecobee must've heard me crying myself to sleep at night over it, 'cause they've updated their firmware to give users access to the motion and temperature sensors!
If you have an ecobee3, keep your eyes peeled for firmware update 184.108.40.2069 (it's rolling out). In the meantime, you can plan some nifty new tricks for your smart home by checking out my piece on adding Automations with the iOS Home app. Think of the possibilities!
By the way, if you're still on the fence about which smart thermostat makes the most sense for your home, take it from me: You honestly cannot go wrong with the ecobee3.
Between the HomeKit compatibility and the remote sensors, it slides right on past the competition. It was incredibly easy to set up, too, which can be a bit of an issue for other smart thermostats out there.
If you're running iOS and you're looking to go smart with your HVAC, it's a no-brainer.
November 18, 2016 - KB Home announces HomeKit-enabled San Jose properties
Homebuilding company KB Home just announced they're building my dream home, so I guess I'm packing up and moving to California!
The company is building a set of properties in San Jose, California that will sport a smart home package filled to the brim with HomeKit-enabled accessories.
From the press release:
KB homeowners can simply and securely monitor and control Apple HomeKit-compatible accessories, such as lighting, door locks and other security features, and more, conveniently from their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
It's unclear which accessories will be available in the new homes, but KB Home has a model home set up with all the included goodies! It's already open for tours, so if you're anywhere near 307 Adeline Street in San Jose, you should definitely check it out.
The announcement from KB Home comes after Tim Cook's WWDC keynote where he revealed Apple would be working with homebuilders to build HomeKit-enabled homes from the outset.
Home automation's single greatest hurdle is lifestyle integration. Early adopters and enthusiasts (like myself) are fine grafting these accessories onto and into our homes and lifestyles, but for most people there's a steep learning curve and an even steeper accessory-saturation curve.
An "accessory-saturation" what now‽
What I mean by "accessory-saturation curve" is it often takes a long time for a person to build out a HomeKit-enabled house. They buy a couple lights, add a smart lock, install an internet-connected fan, get a camera, etc., but that can be a multi-year process.
The power and convenience (and utter awesomeness) of home automation, I'd argue, isn't realized until you've got accessory-saturation. When a HomeKit-enabled motion sensor can trigger the lights, start the fan, and turn up the heat all at once — that is the power of home automation. Flipping on and off a single light with your voice is fun at first, but it loses its novelty after awhile. It's not as powerful as a whole-home home-automation setup.
That, I think, is why getting homebuilders involved in the process is going to be a boon for home automation: We will have accessory-saturation from the get go, giving us the opportunity to see the true power of this stuff.
October 26, 2016 - Elgato launches HomeKit-enabled Eve Light Switch
One of the peskiest hurdles in home automation is replacing your current home setup and re-learning habits. You go from flipping switches on walls to commanding virtual assistants with your voice or poking at a phone with your finger. And while you eventually do pick up the new habits, it can be a struggle instructing guests on how to control the lighting, heating and cooling, fans, blinds, etc. in your home.
Elgato's new Eve Light Switch solves this problem by combining the familiarity of a light switch with the convenience and — I'll admit it — coolness of home automation.
Elgato isn't the first company to offer a HomeKit-enabled light switch. Lutron's Caséta Wireless line has HomeKit-enabled switches and dimmers. The difference, however, is that Lutron's line requires a centralized hub — one you have to purchase separately. The Eve Light Switch uses Bluetooth LE that's built right into the switch, so you don't need a separate hub.
You can learn more about the Eve Light Switch on Elgato's site.