Apple has always kept close control over its smart home ecosystem – named HomeKit – but with the upcoming release of the Siri-enabled HomePod speaker, it’s opened things up to allow more companies to connect their products to the new smart speaker – not to mention iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered together our pick of the best HomeKit devices around – all of which are compatible with the HomePod or can just be used through Siri with your iPhone or iPad.
Oh, and if you know you want fancy lights in particular, you might want to check out our dedicated guide to the best smart lights for Apple Home.
What is HomeKit?
HomeKit was first introduced during WWDC in June 2014, and during WWDC 2016 Apple unveiled its new Home app, which arrived in iOS 10. The Home app on your iPhone places the controls for any HomeKit products you own into one simple-to-use app.
HomeKit is Apple’s own smart home framework. Built for manufacturers and developers, it can turn the iPhone (or other Apple devices) into a smart home remote. With HomeKit functionality, you’re able to control smart home products through iOS apps and Siri voice commands.
What is the Home app on the iPhone?
Home is an Apple app, available for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, that lets you control all of your HomeKit products. With Home, you’ll be able manage each of your smart products from one app, and even create Scenes and Room presets. Scenes can include ‘Leaving home’, for example, which would turn off the lights, lock your doors, and lower the temperature in the home. Home works with Siri, too, so you could say ‘Good night’ to set the Bedtime scene, or ‘Lock the front door’ if you’re already in the car or in bed.
What is the HomePod?
The HomePod is the Siri-enabled smart speaker that Apple unveiled at WWDC 2017, intended to serve as a rival to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which use Alexa and the Google Assistant respectively to operate as smart home hubs.
The HomePod doesn’t offer much smart home or Siri functionality that your iPhone or iPad doesn’t already, but what it does offer is convenience when you’re at home, as it can just sit in your living room, kitchen, bedroom, or wherever, ready to accept voice commands at any time.
The HomePod is out now, and at £319/$349 it costs a good deal more than its rivals, but the impressive sound quality goes some way to make up for the price gap. Read our HomePod review to find out more about what we think of it.
What are the best smart home devices for Apple Home?
Not every smart gadget works with HomeKit and the Home app. It’s important to look for HomeKit-compatible products with the little yellow house symbol. This indicates that a product can be controlled with the Apple Home app.
We have a selection of some of the best accessories that work with HomeKit below, but you can also take a look on Apple’s store to see some of the other HomeKit products that are available to buy in the UK right now. Apple also maintains a full list of HomeKit devices, but bear in mind that some of these are only listed as ‘coming soon’, and even among the rest of them, some are only out in the US, not the UK.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
Smart light bulbs are popular option for modern homes, too. If lighting is what you’re looking to control remotely, the Philips Hue range is a good option. They’re WiFi-enabled and come with a smartphone app. Using it, you can turn them on/off and alter their brightness, tone, or colour.
In terms of design and functionality, the Hue lightbulbs are on the simple side. Once you’ve got them up and running, they’ll provide your home with a dimmable light. That’s handy if you don’t want to make your house look tacky.
What’s also great about the lightbulbs is that they last for around 25,000 hours and are compatible with ES light fittings. The bulbs don’t just act as lights, however. You can get them to wake you up in the morning and tell you once your food has finished cooking.
Netatmo Smart Thermostat
The Netatmo Thermostat is one of the most popular connected gadgets you can get for your dream smart home. Compatible with both the iPhone and iPad, you’re able to monitor your past energy consumption and record your boiler activity. This information is accessible through a free companion app.
That’s not all the thermostat can do, though. You can also get monthly reports to help you manage your heating effectively and save money on bills. It can even make adjustments to your heating based on your living habits and the amount of insulation you have in your house. The device itself comes in five interchangeable colours.
The Netatmo Presence is a security camera that doubles as a floodlight. It’s easy to install and it works well, too. It will detect people, animals and cars up to 65 feet away, sending alerts to your phone – and even your Apple Watch.
It’s relatively expensive compared to some outdoor security cameras, but bear in mind that dimmable LED floodlights aren’t cheap. Also, and more importantly, there’s no monthly subscription charge: an SD card is built-into the camera and stores the footage. You can also set the Presence up to save video to Dropbox, or your own FTP server.
It isn’t perfect, it isn’t cheap and it lacks a few features we’d like to see added to the app, but overall we really like the Netatmo Presence. It doesn’t look like a security camera and the LEDs do a good job of replacing an existing outdoor light. Plus, it’s not difficult to install and there’s no subscription to pay.
August Smart Lock
The HomeKit-connected Smart Lock from August lets you use your smartphone as a key, even if you’re away from home. You can create virtual keys for family and friends and limit their access to just one week, a specific date or an hour or two, for example. You can also delete guests at any time. You’ll be able to see who has been in and out of your house at any time with the key tracker.
If you want it to, the Smart Lock can auto-lock behind you as you leave your home, and unlock when you approach to save you fumbling in your bag for your keys. It’s easy to install, too.
Elgato Eve Thermo
The Elgato Eve home-monitoring system includes a wide range of electronic sensors for tracking air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, energy and water consumption and more.
The Eve range is wide ranging, and each is HomeKit-compatible. That means that, thanks to the Home app, your smart home is controllable through one central app with this lot. You can use iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and even control the Eve gadgets using Siri voice control.
Eve Room senses indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity. Eve Weather senses temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Eve Energy sees how much energy devices are using. Eve Door & Window knows whether your door or window is open or closed. Eve Motion notifies you via your iPhone or iPad whenever movement in the room is detected.
Eve Light Switch lets you switch your lights on and off using Siri, or with a tap on your iPhone. And Eve Thermo allows you to set your comfort temperature level, and create schedules to synchronise your heating with your routine. The Thermo costs £59.95 from Apple; read our Eve Thermo review.
Logi Circle 2
The Logi Circle 2 is a vast improvement on the original Circle security camera, with higher resolution streaming, a wider viewing angle and a range of accessories that extend the functionality of the smart camera – not to mention HomeKit support. It’s small, robust, and the Logi Circle app is well-built with a range of features and options for the camera.
It is a little pricey, though, and it’s worth bearing in mind that some features (person detection, dedicated motion zones) are locked to the £7.99 per month Circle Safe Premium subscription.
It’s available in either wired or wireless models, though the wire-free version does cost a little more.
Honeywell Lyric Thermostat
Honeywell’s Lyric Thermostat offers HomeKit support for controlling your heating with ease, as well as control via the Apple Watch should you happen to have Apple’s wearable, too.
Apple Watch users can see a snapshot of their home system in Glances, plus, thanks to the Apple Watch’s geofencing feature, your thermostat will automatically engage Out of Town mode when you leave range of your home.
LIFX Smart Bulb
LIFX makes a range of Wi-Fi LED bulbs which are controlled via the excellent app on your smartphone, with HomeKit support across the range.
LIFX bulbs are expensive – their main drawback – with a single Generation 3 costing £59.99/$59.99, but you can get small discounts if you buy in bulk direct from LIFX. The fact no hub is needed means you save money compared to other systems such as Philips Hue.
We particularly like the fact that the app separates whites and colours and you can adjust the colour temperature to mimic natural light at different times of day. If you have more than one bulb you can group them and either synchronise the colour and brightness, or use one of the ‘themes’ which sets their colours and brightness independently.
Nanoleaf Aurora Starter Kit
Nanoleaf’s Aurora is a set of nine triangular light panels which can be arranged in just about any pattern you want and mounted on the walls for a seriously impressive smart light fixture.
Each panel can be lit independently, giving you a ludicrous array of possible lighting configurations, including the option of various moving patterns and sequences – from presets to your own creations.
it’s all controllable from your iPhone or iPad, and you can also set it up with voice controls using Siri or other virtual assistants. There’s even an optional extra rhythm kit that can set the lights to react to music and flash in time to the beat.
Tado Smart Thermostat
Tado is the a smart thermostat that follows you and your smartphone via GPS, and turns the heating up or down as you get further away or nearer home. Most of us just set the timer and only go back to the boiler to flick it on or off when we get too hot or cold. Being able to control this (wherever you are) via an app on your phone is a much more intelligent way to control your heating and energy costs.
The initial cost isn’t cheap, but there is a money-back monthly payment option, and you should start saving on your heating bills within a few days. Plus it has some of the slickest design of any smart thermostat – surely important for any Apple acolyte.