Apple HomeKit Secure Video: Benefits and Drawbacks

Cupertino, July 8, 2024

The missing events and dropped connections continued on and off for months. It worked for a few weeks, or at least seemed to, but the problems always returned. Then I bought an Apple TV 4K. As soon as I set up the Apple TV as my home hub, the system started working almost flawlessly. I’ve been on the lookout for missed events or dropped connections, but aside from one missed event on the Aqara G4, I’ve had no issues (the Logitech Circle worked perfectly). Between Apple’s HomeKit architecture upgrade and the Apple TV, the system finally seems to be working as it’s supposed to.

Big Limitations to Consider

Even with the HSV cameras working properly, there are drawbacks to Apple’s system that might turn you off. The complete lack of support for Android phones and smart displays is frustrating. HSV only works with Apple devices. Without an iPhone, you’ll forget about getting notifications or checking the cameras when you’re away from home, and many of HSV’s best features require additional Apple devices like the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and HomePod.

You can view camera footage in the Home app on your iPhone, but HSV cameras can’t record video continuously. They only record motion events based on triggers and activity zones you choose. You can scroll back through the timeline, and events are marked with icons like a person or package, but there’s no easy way to search or filter through the recorded clips. All your video is uploaded to iCloud, and there’s no option to keep local copies on a memory card or hard drive.

Video quality is limited to 1080p. This wasn’t a big deal when Apple first released HSV, but 2K and 4K cameras are now common. Even if your chosen camera supports a higher resolution, your video will be limited to 1080p when using it with HSV. If you’re squinting to spot someone in a hat or find a license plate, the extra resolution will help. On the other hand, you’ll need a lot of internet bandwidth if you want to upload and stream 4K video.

HSV's limitations also prevent you from enjoying other features your camera can offer, like a siren to scare away intruders, pan and tilt controls, or alerts based on audio triggers. But the biggest drawback for me is that HSV doesn’t have any options to automate security camera recording. It can understand when family members are home or away, so I can have the cameras start recording when we all leave, but if I want to turn them on after we’ve all gone to bed at night, I have to do that manually.

Is HSV Right for You?

If testing security cameras weren’t my job, I would have given up on Apple HomeKit Secure Video long ago. I reached out to Apple about the issues I’ve encountered, but the company has declined to comment. Now that I have HSV working reliably thanks to a home hub, I have to admit that I quite like it despite its limitations.

Ultimately, for Apple-only households where all adults use iPhones and already have an Apple TV and an iCloud subscription, HSV is the obvious choice. It’s relatively fast and slick compared to rivals, but its reliable security is what sells it. Those with a mix of devices should choose something else from our Best Indoor Security Cameras, Best Outdoor Security Cameras, or Best Video Doorbells guides.

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