Apple

Apple HomeKit starter pack: 6 devices to help build your Siri smart home

Lay the foundations of your iPhone-controlled smart home with these products

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Although Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are the most popular ways of making your home smarter, Apple, Siri and the company's HomeKit platform should not be discounted.

It hasn't enjoyed the glitz and glamor of the iPhone, iPad or even the Apple Watch, but HomeKit has been around for longer than Alexa and Google Assistant, and can give you smart control of a huge range of devices and appliances, either by tapping on your iPhone and Watch, or by asking Siri.

So, following on from our starter kit features on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, it is Apple's time. Unlike those two, you don't need to buy Apple's smart speaker — the HomePod — to use HomeKit, as speaking to Siri on your iPhone has exactly the same outcome.

Here are some of our favorite HomeKit compatible smart home devices:

Smart plug: iDevices Switch - $30 or three for $80

iDevices

The smart plug is the perfect starting point for any smart home. Fit one to a wall outlet, connect to to your Wi-Fi network, then plug anything you like into it. Now, you can turn that device on or off with a tap of your iPhone, or by asking Siri.

We have picked the iDevices Switch for this feature, but in reality any smart plug with the 'Works with Apple HomeKit' logo on the box will work in a near-identical way. Try plugging a lamp into one for Siri-controlled lighting, or fit a fan to circulate the air whenever you ask. These plugs can also be controlled when you are away from home, and can be set to operate on a timer.


Door lock: August Smart Lock Pro - $260 (includes Connect sensor)


August

This smart door lock by August is one of the simplest to install, because it retro-fits onto your existing deadbolt; the August Smart Lock Pro works with HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant.

You can lock and unlock the door with a tap of the Home app on your iPhone, or have the lock work automatically based on your location. That way, the door will unlock as your approach from the outside, and lock itself the next time you head out. Because the lock connects to the internet via your Wi-Fi network, you can check the status of your door (and unlock or lock it) from anywhere in the world.

The latest third-generation August lock comes with the new Connect sensor, which uses a feature called DoorSense to tell you if the door is open or closed, not just locked or unlocked.


Lighting: Nanoleaf Aurora - $350 for 15-piece starter kit

Nanoleaf

Yes, we know this is a bit pricey for some lighting, but bear with us. You see, the usual players like Philips Hue and Lifx both work with HomeKit, so we decided to go for something a little different. The Nanoleaf Aurora is a smart feature lighting system which can be made into an almost limitless number of abstract shapes and designs. Each tile can be made any color you like, and the whole thing can be controlled from the Home app on your iPhone, or by speaking to Siri.


Thermostat: Ecobee4 - $250

Ecobee

Installing a smart thermostat might seem a little more involved than a smart plug or some attractive lighting, but this is a device which can save you money by lowering your energy bills.

A key part of this Ecobee4 system is how sensors can be placed throughout the home to tell the thermostat exactly which rooms need warming (or cooling) and which don't. If no one is in a cooler room, then the system won't waste energy warming it up.

Although the Ecobee4 works with HomeKit, it also comes with Amazon Alexa built-in, and there's support for Google Assistant too, making it something of an all-rounder.


Camera: Arlo Baby - $190

Arlo

Security cameras by D-Link and Logitech work with Apple HomeKit, but for something a bit different we're highlighting the new Arlo Baby. As the name suggests, this is a baby-monitoring camera designed to keep an eye on your child while they sleep.

Once set up, you can say: "Hey Siri, show me the baby room" and a live video stream from the Arlo Baby will appear on your iPhone. two -way audio means you can hear your baby if they're struggling getting to sleep.

Flood sensor: Fibaro Flood Sensor - $70

Fibaro

This might not be a particular fun smart home device, but the Fibaro Flood Sensor could one day be invaluable. Place the device under a pipe, next to your washing machine, or wherever you feel would be a likely place for a leak to occur, and you will be alerted the moment the device detects water on the floor.

The device also has a temperature sensor and will alert you if it detects anything unusual. This also means you can say: "Hey Siri, how warm is the upstairs bathroom?" before deciding whether the underfloor heating needs switching on before you head for a shower on a cold winter morning.

Fibaro's other smart home products, like door and window sensors motion sensors, and 'The Button' all hook up to HomeKit, providing a complete solution for iPhone users.


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