Apple HomeKit - What It Is and How It Works

What is the Apple HomeKit actually? What does the Home app do and what is it all for? This question (s) could be asked by Apple newbies or those who are thinking about one or the other solution for the smart home for the first time. In this post I will show you briefly what HomeKit is, what separates the term from the home app and how the entire smart home system works together.

What is HomeKit and how does it work? What are the Home app and Siri used for and when can the Smart Home be controlled using a Mac? All the answers and information about the Apple HomeKit can be found here!

What is HomeKit and how does it work? What are the Home app and Siri used for and when can the Smart Home be controlled using a Mac? All the answers and information about the Apple HomeKit can be found here!

Apple HomeKit is a framework or interface

While the Home App ultimately provides the user interface and the individual functions for operating smart home elements, the HomeKit is the software framework behind it. HomeKit provides the framework for the programming framework, thanks to which manufacturers can integrate their products into a smart home with Apple control. The HomeKit thus also serves as an interface between the hardware (lights, shutters, speakers, locks, etc.) and the control unit (app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac). In a nutshell, the appropriate one gives Wikipedia entry an insight into the definition of a software framework:

A framework is a programming framework that is used in software technology, in particular in the context of object-oriented software development and component-based development approaches. In a more general sense, a framework is also used to describe a regulatory framework.

Recommended reading: About macOS 10.14 Mojave (WWDC 2018)

Apple's "Home" app as a remote control for the smart home

The Apple HomeKit thus specifies the programming structure according to which manufacturers equip devices with software and offer them for interaction with control units. As a control unit in a HomeKit smart home, you can see various Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad or, from macOS Mojave, also the Mac. These require the so-called home app for use. Apple describes this on the official website on the subject as follows:

With the Home App you can control all your HomeKit accessories easily and safely. Have Siri turn off the lights from your iPhone. Check your iPad to see who's on the doorstep. Control your home remotely with Apple TV. You can even have your new HomePod turn up the music. With the Home app, all of your connected devices just work better - and just smarter.

Overview: These Mac models are compatible with macOS Mojave

Devices that work with HomeKit compatibility with Home

On the website named above, Apple already gives a general overview of the classes and types of electrical equipment that you can control via the home app. Which exact products these are ultimately depends on the manufacturers and whether they have used the HomeKit framework in the software of their devices:

  • lights
  • Switch
  • sockets
  • Thermostats
  • Window
  • Fans
  • air conditioning
  • humidifier
  • air cleaner
  • Loudspeakers
  • Sensors
  • Security
  • Castles
  • Cameras
  • Doorbells
  • Garage doors
  • Bridges

Apple offers a list of manufacturers and devices named by name apple.com/us/ios/home/accessories/ at. Manufacturers and brands such as Koogeek, IKEA, LIFX, OSRAM, Philips, Nanoleaf, Elgato (Eve), Honeywell, Netatmo, VELUX, Hunter, De'Longhi, Sonos are also mentioned there - and many more. Apple even has some products in its own shop: here..

Why HomeKit got off to a sluggish start

HomeKit and thus the possibility for device manufacturers to offer their products to Apple users with an affinity for smart home has been around since 2014 and iOS 8. However, in addition to the use of the HomeKit framework, a lot was also required on the hardware side for a long time. For example, the installation of a coprocessor for the encryption of the devices, which most manufacturers of course refused to do. The system was designed more and more freely; and although even now (fortunately for the end user) many safety criteria have to be met, at least no special hardware has to be installed. HomeKit has become more attractive and easier for manufacturers, which is why there are more and more products that can be controlled via the home app.

HomeKit can be used on the Mac from 2018

With macOS 10.14 Mojave, HomeKit or the Home app also comes to the Mac. The Home App for macOS Mojave should look similar to the Apple iPad. However, it remains to be seen whether AirPlay 2, which relies on HomeKit, will also be available on the Mac, iMac and MacBook from autumn 2018. As in a test with a Mojave beta from AppleInsider (look here), AirPlay 2 has not yet been included.

Counselor: Install macOS Mojave on old, unsupported Macs

Advantages of the smart home: automation, scenes, routines

If all devices in the house are compatible with HomeKit in unison or use its basic framework and therefore work in the Home app, schedules can also be put together or scenes can be set. These can then be linked to a single command, so that you can control multiple devices with just one sentence via Siri, for example, and execute certain commands. For example, "Hey Siri, I'm home.“Cause the light to come on in the hallway, relaxation music to be played and the thermostat to ensure your comfortable temperature.

Advantage or disadvantage: no hub is required

For example, if you set up the home app on your iPhone, you can control the latter via the WiFi network in which the iPhone and HomeKit devices are located. A hub, i.e. an additional device for communication between “remote control” and “receiver”, is not necessary. This is very practical if you want to give commands, call up scenes or perform actions at home using the app or Siri. The lack of a hub or bridge becomes a disadvantage if you want to control your home while on the move. Then, in addition to the iPhone with the Home app, you also need an Apple TV 4, an Apple TV 4K or an iPad that serves as a hub at home - an Apple device actually made for other tasks.

Summary

HomeKit is a software framework and thus an interface between smart home products and the home app used for control on Apple devices. Thanks to this interface, devices, systems, sensors and other electronic elements in the home can be controlled via iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and, from autumn 2018, also via macOS Mojave on the Mac. In addition, Siri - for example on the Apple HomePod - can be used either to control individual devices or to trigger action chains and scenes.

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