Pro: puts Siri in charge of your smartphone by building connections, or scenes
Con: Not compatible with big brand systems such as Lowe's Iris and Samsung SmartThings
You love your iPhone, Apple TV, iPad and Apple Watch. If you're happy in Apple's well-designed world, then Apple's home networking protocol, HomeKit, may be right for you.
Apple's HomeKit smart home platform is neither a wireless protocol such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, nor is it an proprietary system such as The Home Depot's Wink, Lowe's Iris or Belkin's WeMo. It's a little of both.
HomeKit is a smart home language that allows you to control HomeKit-enabled smart home devices from Apple products. Along with individual device control, you can create scenarios in which these multiple HomeKit smart devices act in concert as part of what Apple calls a "scene."
- You can make the TV or a video game off-limits to the kids until a specified time;
- You can program house lights to automatically turn on when the garage door opens;
- Your washer and/or dryer can notify you when a laundry load is done.
- You can tell Siri to turn off all the lights;
- You can check the status of devices, such as "Did I leave the iron on?"
Best of all, instead of having to open an app and tap a control, you can use Siri to tell your HomeKit smart devices what to do.
Many of the initial HomeKit products are AC jacks that make any dumb device you plug into them – lights, a television even the dishwasher, to name a few – remotely controllable by an iPhone.
Dozens of companies have already jumped aboard, announcing HomeKit-enabled products, with many more sure to follow. A handful of the options already available include: August(smart locks), Chamberlain (garage door openers), ecobee3 (thermostats), Elgato (environmental sensors), Friday (smart locks), Haier (air conditioners), Honeywell (thermostat), Insteon (control hub), Kwikset (smart locks), Netatmo (home security sensors, cameras), Osram Schlage (smart lock), SkyBell (video doorbell) and Withings (baby monitors, scales).
But proprietary smart home vendors such as Lowe's Iris, Staples Connect, Belkin's WeMo and The Home Depot's Wink have not yet figured out how to bring HomeKit compatibility to their systems – at least not yet. We're told by all that everyone is talking with Apple. So expect some resolution to that scenario soon.
If you need help installing Apple HomeKit or other smart home products, you can visit HomeAdvisor.com to find a local trusted professional.