Apple hasn’t given up on making HomeKit happen, but it looks like the company isn’t alone in efforts to make the smart home platform easier to use.
HomeKit just received a helping hand from a fairly new third-party app called Home Widget (opens in new tab). Home Widget is essentially a dashboard for designing iPhone and iPad HomeKit widgets. So as long as you know how to add a widget to your iPhone's home screen, you could transform your device into an effective HomeKit controller with Home Widget.
The app’s key features are completely free. Without paying a premium, Home Widget supports all three widget panel sizes and a complete color spectrum of widget backgrounds to match your device’s wallpaper (or theme, if you’ve curated one.) You can add up to 12 individual controls to the large-sized widget, or employ a single control with the smallest widget.
Within minutes of downloading Home Widget, I made a medium-sized panel with three HomeKit buttons for the three of the best smart light fixtures in my living room: Nanoleaf Shapes and two different Philips Hue lights. I assigned each control a simple on and off function, though Home Widget supports dimmer options and controls relevant to the given device, too. I can even assign one device multiple controls.
Of course, Apple offers a native way to easily control the best HomeKit devices in the iPhone and iPad’s control centers. HomeKit controls can be added to the control center in device settings, but they remain hidden unless I swipe down from the top of my phone’s screen.
Why is there no dedicated HomeKit widget? Apple offers for weather, Apple News, photos, screen time and more, so it seems like a natural need for the avid HomeKit user, or perhaps just someone with a HomePod mini and one of the best smart plugs for simple smart home automations.
Regrettably, Home Widget seems like something Apple will render useless by eventually adding a native HomeKit widget in a future software update, if not a later version of iOS 15. But for now, Home Widget is already encouraging me to use HomeKit more than I normally do.
There is a Premium version of Home Widget ($3.99/year, $8.99 for a permanent license), but from what I can tell, it won’t enhance the experience much. Premium users can hide widget buttons and choose how often they want their widgets to refresh. There are also advanced controls for the best smart home devices with sensors, like motion detection, but the free version of Home Widget is still highly capable and highly recommended for any HomeKit user.