Knock, knock. Who's there? HomeKit, finally!
Apple wants to bring some sanity to the smart home, and its HomeKit framework will integrate third-party apps and smart-home devices with iOS for Siri control and easier interoperability. Your Lyric thermostat can be adjusted with your iDevices app, for example, and smart plugs from three companies can be grouped together so a room full of lamps can flicker to life when you give Siri the command.
The first round of products debuted at International CES, and while each is quite simple on its face, we think that’s the entire point. These simple devices will be have easy setup, strong security, and flexible enough control to solve all kinds of problems around your home. We’ll keep this slideshow up-to-date when new devices are announced, and link to standalone reviews of the products as applicable too.
Elgato launched its new Eve line of HomeKit-compatible products, including the Eve Door & Window sensor, which connects to your iPhone with Bluetooth LE and has a battery that lasts six months. Next up, the Room sensor will measure the air quality indoors can help you determine how much it’s actually helping to use an air purifier or keep your window cracked.
The Eve line will also have a plug that could turn that air purifier on for you, or just automate and track the energy consumption of whatever you plug into it. The app will let you add more HomeKit devices later, and you’ll be able to control your Elgato devices from other HomeKit apps—the secondary competition in the apps space could be just as interesting.
Schlage is building HomeKit support into one new lock, the Schlage Sense, the company’s first Bluetooth lock. Bluetooth and HomeKit will let your smartphone act as the key, but the lock has an illuminated touchscreen as well, so you can program no-phone-required codes for houseguests or the dogwalker.
HomeKit support will let your lock recognize your phone without you having to dig it out when your hands are full of grocery bags, as well as letting Siri assure you your front door is locked before you turn in to bed at night. The Schlage Sense will be out later this year, with exact timing and pricing to be determined.
You might know iDevices for its Bluetooth cooking gadgets. Now the company is betting on HomeKit in a big way, with a $10 million investment leading to its first in a series of products, the Switch. This is a small connected plug that doesn’t hog the second power outlet and also sports a color-changing LED strip that acts as a nightlight. The Switch will let you use Siri or HomeKit apps to control lights, fans, air purifiers, anything with that kind of mechanical on/off switch.
Each Switch has Bluetooth LE as well as Wi-Fi, so you can connect to it via iDevice’s cloud to check in while you’re away from home, and the company’s well-designed HomeKit app will work with other devices too, like locks from Schlage, MyQ garage door openers from Chamberlain, and the Lyric thermostat from Honeywell. The Switch is shipping in April, for $50.
iHome is known for a huge array of audio products, and its first HomeKit device will be a Wi-Fi connected plug. Like iDevices’ Switch, iHome designed its iSP5 SmartPlug so it’s stackable—you can fit two onto a standard power outlet. You’ll be able to plug devices like lamps, fans, or portable heaters into the Plug, and then turn them on and off in iHome’s app. The app makes it easy to name each device that’s plugged in, group them by room, and set up scheduling and scenes that you can run with one tap in the app, or by asking Siri. Plug will hit stores in the second quarter of 2015, with a tentative price of $39.
The Tempo Environment Monitor is a battery-powered indoor/outdoor sensor that monitors temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, so you can keep tabs on conditions inside your nursery, humidor, or terrarium. It’s also got an iBeacon mode that sends out a constant ping, and can trigger actions in nearby Bluetooth devices running iBeacon apps, although so far iBeacon is mostly used in retail settings. HomeKit’s spec doesn’t support Tempo’s sensors just yet, but its maker Blue Maestro hopes down the road to use the HomeKit framework to let Tempo’s sensor data trigger actions like turning on an air purifier or fan.
The Withings Home camera joins the crowded IP camera space with a few cool features: HomeKit support; environmental sensors to detect volatile organic compounts, or VOCs; and the easy-to-use timeline feature in its app, including an automatic time-lapse of the last 12 hours. The app also strives to give you real advice based on the sensor’s data. In our demo, waving freshly poured hand sanitizer near the camera immediately changed the air quality readout in the app from Good to Bad, and can send you an alert, so you know to open a window. The 5-megapixel, 135-degree camera is about the size of a scented candle and even looks somewhat decorative in its bamboo-and-white shell. It detects motion now, with people detection coming later, via firmware update. Withings Home is available for $200.
Velvetwire already makes the best iPhone charger in the business, the Powerslayer, and at CES debuted the next-gen Powerslayer Blu. This adds Bluetooth and an app, so you can get a notification on your iPhone when your iPad is done charging, or you can set a goal for charging (say, you want to be at 45 percent before you leave the house), and hear a chime when it gets there. You can even get a notification when your phone and the Powerslayer lose their connection, which can help you avoid leaving it behind in hotel rooms. More features to come later include the ability to evaluate the health of your iPhone or iPad’s battery, and even put it through battery calisthentics to keep it in tip-top condition. Powerslayer Blu will be out this month, with an anticipated price of around $79.
Chamberlain knows you’re probably not going to run out and buy a new garage door opener just so you can use it with your phone instead of the little remote control that’s worked perfectly fine for decades. That's why, although the company would love to sell you its new top-of-the-line Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener with MyQ, its $130 MyQ Garage kit can add app-controlled connectivity—including HomeKit support—to the garage door opener you already have. All you have to do is install a small Wi-Fi hub and a door sensor, and you can check the garage door—and of course close it—from anywhere.
Insteon is no newcomer to the connected home space—the company already has more than 200 products in the market, and has been working to connect them to popular platforms and ecosystems, like Nest and even Cortana support for Windows 8.1.
Announced at CES, a $150 Insteon Hub brings HomeKit support to existing Insteon products, bridging Insteon’s own communications protocol with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Even though other HomeKit devices don't need a hub, Insteon gear is available now. HomeKit will allow access from outside the house, with the Apple TV providing a secure gateway for connections from HomeKit-compatible apps, like the company’s own Insteon App, which will allow control of any HomeKit-compatible device. The Hub is available for preorder now, and should ship around February.
Incipio debuted three HomeKit devices at CES, including the Incipio Direct Wireless Smart Outlet for plugging things in, and the Smart Lamp Adapter for making dumb lightbulbs smart, each selling for $25, as well as the four-port Power Strip for $60. All will work with the Incipio Direct app for iOS, which allows grouping of devices, one-touch scenes, and proximity awareness. All the devices are expected in Q2 of 2015.
Honeywell is building out the Lyric family with a slate of professionally installed and monitored home security products, but the real news for DIY-ers is that the Lyric thermostat, which debuted last year, is getting HomeKit support—including control from the Apple Watch. A Honeywell spokesperson says Apple Watch-using Lyric owners will be able to get a real-time snapshot of their home system with Glances, and the Watch’s geofencing feature will let you engage Out of Town mode with one tap when the Watch leaves range of your home network. The Lyric thermostat is on sale now, and the Apple Watch is expected to be released this spring, probably sometime in March.
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