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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.

Clear

“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/iPadOS 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. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Hannah, and their two children.

What's New in Version 1.3

Version 1.3 reflects HomeKit changes in iOS 14, iPadOS 14, macOS 11 Big Sur, and tvOS 14. Here are the high points:

  • HomeKit routers: Support for HomeKit routers has been around for a while, but is just now starting to take off commercially. To get the most security benefits, you need to either set up the router first or set up your accessories all over again. See “Configure Your Router with HomeKit.”
  • Accessory setup changes: The way you set up accessories has changed a bit, which I cover in “Set Up Accessories.”
  • Control Center overhaul in iOS/iPadOS: The way Home works with Control Center in iOS and iPadOS has been overhauled, so that you now have quick access to suggested accessories and you’re no longer limited to just nine favorite accessories and scenes. See “Use Control Center in iOS and iPadOS.”
  • Overhauled Home status: Previously, Home status was just a wall of text that wasn’t worth saying much about. Apple has overhauled it for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS 11 Big Sur to be more graphical and interactive, so I added a new section, “Check Accessory Status.”
  • Control Center in Apple TV: tvOS 14 introduced new Home controls in Control Center that lets you view camera feeds and activate scenes. See “Use Apple TV Control Center.”
  • Expanded coverage of cameras: iOS 13 introduced HomeKit Secure Video, but at the time there was only one camera that supported it, the camera was expensive, and you had to give up a lot of functionality to even use HomeKit Secure Video. There are now inexpensive HomeKit cameras from Eufy that I discuss in “Learn the Types of Accessories.” I cover configuring cameras in “Adjust Camera Settings,” and how to view them in “View and Control Cameras.”
  • Adaptive lighting: Apple has announced a feature that lets smart lights change color throughout the day, sort of like Night Shift for real life. Unfortunately, there aren’t any smart lights that support this yet, so there isn’t anything to say. When there is, we’ll update the book again.
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.3
    • What Was New in Version 1.2
  • Introduction
  • HomeKit Quick Start
  • Get Started with HomeKit
    • Understand What HomeKit Is
    • Understand What HomeKit Does
    • Learn the HomeKit Hierarchy
    • Understand HomeKit in Practice
  • Plan Your HomeKit Home
    • Learn the Types of Accessories
    • Consider Your Needs
    • Choose Your First Accessories
  • Set Up Accessories
    • Configure Your Router with HomeKit
    • Identify the HomeKit Code
    • Activate Accessories
    • Tweak Accessories
    • Adjust Camera Settings
    • Troubleshooting Accessory Additions
  • Use Accessories
    • Check Accessory Status
    • Control Your Accessories
    • Deal with Switches
  • Explore Homes, Rooms, and Zones
    • Set Up Homes
    • Establish and Configure Rooms
  • Set Scenes
    • Consider Your Scenes
    • Make a Scene
    • Control Scenes
    • Ponder These Scene Ideas
  • Set Your Home on Autopilot
    • Set Up a Home Hub
    • Plan Automations Carefully
    • Create Automations
    • Automate Your Music
    • Convert Automations to Shortcuts
    • Adjust Automations
    • Automate with Eve for HomeKit
  • Install Advanced Accessories
    • Install a Door and Window Sensor
    • Work with Electricity Safely
    • Install a Light Switch
    • Install a Thermostat
  • Troubleshoot HomeKit
    • Fix Unresponsive Accessories
    • Update Accessory Firmware
    • Fix Remote Automations
    • Fix Home Sharing
    • Reset HomeKit
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
    • Credits
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Josh Centers discusses Apple home automation (again) on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on November 8, 2020

Josh Centers joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices in a two-part interview to discuss his updated book Take Control of Apple Home Automation.

In Part 1, Josh covers changes to HomeKit Secure Video and cameras that support it, and discusses his favorite (and least favorite) equipment brands.

In Part 2, Josh discusses the redesigned Home app in iOS 14 and talks about additional HomeKit devices.

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