HomeKit Weekly: Smart home projects to pass the time during social distancing

We’re all getting stir crazy being stuck in our houses during the COVID–19 pandemic, but you can make good use of the time if you want to work on your HomeKit setup. Since pretty much every extracurricular activity has been canceled, spend this time getting your house to work for you through Apple’s HomeKit platform. Here are some fun projects that can help pass the time, along with being fun to install.

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HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

Automate your doors

Of all the HomeKit items I own, the August Smart Lock Pro is near the top of my list for favorite products. As I wrote in my review, I initially shied away from smart locks because I was concerned the installation process would be difficult and time-consuming.

The August Smart Lock can be installed in under twenty minutes, works perfectly with HomeKit, and is a game-changer for day to day simplicity. My wife and I love not having to worry about finding our keys to unlock the door.

Install a new security system

abode iota

I got a call from my old security company earlier this week wanting me to test my system because they had not received a signal in a while. Despite my emailing them, they still have not deactivated my account. I’ve had the abode security system for a few months now, and it’s incredible how much more user friendly it is than my previous one.

HomeKit compatibility takes it to a new level, though. Since all the accessories are exposed to HomeKit, you can create triggers based on various pieces of the abode system. A few things I am doing are to trigger my backyard lights when the back door is opened and turn on a couple of lamps in the morning when the abode motion sensor detects motion after 5:00 AM. If you were looking for just one HomeKit project to tackle, I would recommend this one as you’ll see a lot of benefits on top of the additional security for your home.

Create new automations

One of the critical benefits of HomeKit compatibility isn’t just the simplicity of using a single application to manage your home, but rather how you can integrate products from various vendors together. For me, I love being able to automate lighting based on using motion sensors.

I use my Netatamo camera to trigger lamps in our upstairs bonus room. If it stops detecting motion, it turns the lights back off. Another idea might be to trigger a specific lighting setup if the August Door Lock unlocks (at the end of your workday) or create a bedtime routine for 10:00 PM that dims your lights, enables your security system, and lowers your garage doors. If you are using some cool automations, I’d love to hear them.

Create a movie experience

philips hue

I have just recently started venturing into using Hue lights over only regular LED bulbs with a HomeKit switch, and one of the benefits I am finding is the ability to dim them to a certain percentage through HomeKit. With Hue, there are several products that you could set up to create a ‘movie experience.’ You could use the Hue Play to create a backlight behind your TV or use this starter kit to create the perfect movie-watching mood.

Set up a HomeKit router

HomeKit Router

eero just recently launched the first HomeKit router, so a great project, while you are stuck at home, is getting the additional security set up. As we reported, when it first launched, you might have to remove and re-add many of your devices to take advantage of the new features. Unfortunately, that is going to be time-consuming. Fortunately, a lot of us have more time on our hands that we’ve had in a while. Here are the three levels of security:

Here are the three levels of security Apple offers for accessories paired with HomeKit routers:

  1. Restrict to Home: Most secure. Your accessory can interact only with HomeKit through your Apple devices. The accessory won’t connect to the Internet or any local devices, so any third-party services, like firmware updates, might be blocked.
  2. Automatic: Default security. Your accessory can communicate with HomeKit and connections recommended by its manufacturer.
  3. No Restriction: Least secure. This setting bypasses the secure router and allows your accessory to interact with any device in your network or Internet-based service.

Update HomeKit firmware

If you’ve been putting off updating the firmware of many of your HomeKit devices, take this time to download the manufacturer’s apps and make sure all of your devices are on the latest firmware. Updating your firmware will not only benefit you from a security perspective, but it might even fix a few long-standing bugs you’ve had.

Wrap-up on HomeKit projects

These projects are just a few recommendations I came up with I’d love to hear about how our readers are using HomeKit in their homes. Leave a comment below to let us know about your unique use-cases with HomeKit.

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