Among smart home platforms, Apple’s HomeKit is probably my third favorite, trailing behind Alexa and SmartThings. With HomeKit, You can create a surprising number of clever routines to let your various smart home devices work with each other — much more than you can with Google Home, in fact.
However, there’s one problem with Apple’s smart home platform: There’s just not enough stuff that works with HomeKit. That point was driven home with the announcement at CES 2022 of the Eve Outdoor Cam and the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell. They represent, respectively, the second outdoor video camera and the third video doorbell that work with HomeKit Secure Video. And they’re both really expensive — $249 each. Meanwhile, if you want one of the best video doorbells that works with Alexa, you can spend as little as $49.
At least the news is better for HomeKit on the smart lock front. With the announcement of the new Schlage Encode Plus, there are now four smart locks that are HomeKit-compatible.
The same goes for other smart home categories: smart switches, smart plugs, smart thermostats — there’s just very little choice for homeowners who rely on HomeKit, and what there is, isn’t necessarily the best, or require some other device. Want to use the Nest Learning Thermostat with HomeKit? You'll need to use the Starling Home Hub as a workaround.
There’s hope on the horizon, though. Included in many of the announcements at CES has been support for Matter, the new smart home protocol that should make it easier for devices to work with any smart home platform, HomeKit included. Here’s some of the big names that either announced products, or pledged their support for Matter, at CES.
- Xfinity’s new Wi-Fi 6 Advanced Gateway, which will be available in the coming months, will act as a Matter hub, providing an instant upgrade for the thousands of people who use Comcast for their internet service.
- Sengled, which launched a light strip as well as a kinda-creepy bulb that can track you when you’re sleeping, also said it plans to support the new standard.
- Cync’s new smart thermostat, security camera, and smart lights will support Matter
- Wemo’s array of smart plugs will work with Matter — though to be fair, Wemo already works with HomeKit.
- Schlage’s aforementioned smart lock — which won a Tom’s Guide CES 2022 Award — will also work with Matter.
- Arlo, which finally announced its DIY home security system, joined the Matter Alliance.
Just as significantly, Amazon announced additional developer support for Matter devices, including “Frustration free setup” for such devices. While this has been around since 2018 and is used for all Alexa smart speakers, it’s now being expanded to include Matter products. It’s also adding a feature that will allow Alexa to connect to Matter devices either through the cloud or on a local network — handy if your internet connection goes down, but you still want to control your smart home devices.
While this last bit doesn’t have anything to do with HomeKit, Amazon’s commitment to Matter could be a greater incentive for other smart home device makers to update their products to support the standard — which is one step closer to making them compatible with HomeKit as well.
Speaking of fixing flaws, Apple has released iOS 15.2.1. to fix a problem in HomeKit that could be exploited by hackers to set iPads and iPhone into a restarting spiral.