Skip to main content

Apple's Home App Brings Your Smart Home Gadgets Under One Roof

One of the biggest issues surrounding smart home devices is that, absent a hub, it's not easy to get all the different pieces to integrate with each other. Apple hopes to solve that issue with its new Home app, which will not only let you control all your gadgets from one interface, but also let you group them together for different situations. The Home app, announced at WWDC 2016, will be available later this fall with the release of iOS 10.

From what we saw during the keynote address at WWDC, the Apple Home app will be substantially similar to other smart home hub apps, such as those from Samsung's SmartThings and Staples Connect. The app will let you add your various smart home components, and control them from one place. Additionally, the Home app will let you link them together in various scenes. For example, activating a "Good Night" scene could automatically turn off your lights, lower the shades, change the temperature, and lock your doors.

MORE: Best Smart Home Hub

Much of these features are already available with other smart home hubs. Where Apple will differentiate itself is though a more seamless integration with iOS 10. For example, you'll be able to use Siri to control individual devices and scenes. And, you'll also be able to access your devices through iOS' Control Center, simply by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Provided you have an Apple TV, you'll also be able to remotely control devices, as well as set up geofencing.

Another feature of the Home app will let you even control your smart home devices right from your iPhone's lock screen. If you have, say, a Nest Cam security camera or an August Smart Lock and Doorbell cam, when someone comes to your door, an image or a video will appear on your iPhone's lockscreen, with the option to chat with the person or unlock the door. However, Apple made no mention of any additional safeguards to prevent someone from stealing your phone and letting themselves into your home without your knowledge. We've reached out for comment.

A lot of this functionality is already built into HomeKit, which is available in iOS 9; however, unless you know what you're doing, it's a little hard to figure it out. The Home app should make integrating all these gadgets easier for newbies.

Regardless of Home app's features, the other key issue for its success will be the number of products that are compatible with HomeKit. There are only 34 products listed on Apple's Home Automation page, and while it does include the Ecobee3 thermostat, the Nest Learning thermostat, as well as many other popular smart home devices—such as Belkin's WeMo—are not compatible.

The new Home app won't be rolled out until this fall, so there's still time for Apple to make some tweaks to its functionality. But, if there are no secondary protections enabled, we recommend keeping this feature turned off.