Manage your smart home with Apple’s HomeKit platform

Take Control of
Apple Home Automation

Josh Centers

Thanks to Apple’s HomeKit platform, you can easily configure smart home devices (such as light bulbs, outlets, thermostats, sensors, cameras, and door locks) from a variety of manufacturers to behave exactly as you need them to; integrate them with a hub such as a HomePod, Apple TV, or iPad; and control them with an iOS/iPadOS device, a Mac, an Apple Watch, Siri commands, or automated programming. This book gives you all the information you need to get started.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.

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“Smart home” devices are everywhere these days—you can buy internet-connected light bulbs, thermostats, door locks, sensors, and dozens of other products. But these devices aren’t very smart on their own. Apple’s HomeKit platform offers a way to integrate, monitor, control, and automate smart home devices from a wide variety of manufacturers. Using the built-in Home app on a Mac or iOS device (perhaps along with third-party apps), you can connect to your various smart devices, see what they’re up to, control them, and even get them to operate on a schedule or respond to changing conditions in your home automatically.

Even with HomeKit, however, home automation can be a daunting prospect. That’s why TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers wrote Take Control of Apple Home Automation. The book walks you carefully through every step of the process, showing you how you can start with a basic system that costs less than $50 and work your way up to as much complexity as you want or need. And you don’t have to be a computer geek to simplify and improve your life with HomeKit-compatible products. Even if you don’t know a wire nut from a macadamia or which end of a screwdriver to stick in a socket (spoiler: neither!), Josh’s thorough advice will enable you to work wonders in your home.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • The most common home automation myths (and why you shouldn’t worry about them)
  • How to choose HomeKit-compatible devices that meet your needs, and which products you might want to avoid
  • Exactly what HomeKit is, what it does, how it works, and what its limitations are
  • Why you need a hub (in the form of an Apple TV, HomePod, or iPad) and how to set it up
  • Important safety rules for working with electrical products, especially those that require wiring
  • How to install advanced accessories such as a smart switch, thermostat, or door/window sensor—including illustrated, step-by-step instructions
  • What Apple’s Home app for Mac and iOS/iPadOS does—and how to configure homes, zones, rooms, accessories, services, and scenes
  • Tips for controlling your smart home using a Mac, iOS/iPadOS device, Apple Watch, HomePod, or Siri
  • Ways to automate your smart home using schedules, sensors, geofencing, and other tools (without making your house seem haunted)
  • The best ways to troubleshoot home automation problems

This book was sponsored by Elgato (the original makers of the Eve line of HomeKit devices, which spun off into a separate company in 2018), so many of the examples feature Eve products, although nearly all the advice in the book is applicable to HomeKit products from any manufacturer. (You’ll also read about working with Philips Hue bulbs, ecobee thermostats, and numerous other devices.)

If you’re an Apple user who’s interested in joining the smart home revolution—or adding even more smarts to your existing setup—this book is the ideal guide.

Josh Centers

About Josh Centers

Josh Centers is the managing editor of TidBITS and a freelance writer who has written for Macworld, the Magazine, Boing Boing, and the Sweethome. He has been featured on Daring Fireball, the Loop, TUAW, and Scientific American, and is a frequent guest on MacVoices and the Tech Night Owl. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Hannah, and their two children.

What's New in Version 1.2

Version 1.2 reflects changes to HomeKit in iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS 10.15 Catalina:

  • New interface: The Home app interface has been overhauled in parts, which Josh references throughout the book.

  • HomeKit Secure Video: Apple now lets you securely store footage from HomeKit security cameras in iCloud, but right now support is severely limited. See the Cameras section in "Learn the Types of Accessories" for more information.

  • HomeKit-enabled routers: iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 introduced support for HomeKit-enabled routers from Eero, Linksys, and Spectrum, which can, in theory, isolate your HomeKit accessories from the rest of your network. However, none of those vendors have yet added support to their routers as of December 2019, so it’ll be covered in a future edition and/or on TidBITS.

  • Homepod and AirPlay 2 speakers: AirPlay 2 devices like the Apple TV and HomePod can be controlled and automated with HomeKit. See "Control Your Accessories" and "Automate Your Music."

  • Siri Shortcuts: You can now incorporate Siri Shortcuts into HomeKit automations. See "Convert Automations to Shortcuts."

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