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If you haven't jumped into the wonderful world of smart homes yet, or are just curious about the possibilities beyond Alexa and Google, HomeKit may have caught your eye. Apple's smart home platform that rivals Alexa and Google Assistant, it's a slightly different (but no less appealing) proposition for those looking to add more automation to their home.
HomeKit actually launched in late 2014, but it's clearly evolved a lot since then. Than. The Home app, which we use now, appeared a few years later in 2016 and became available to iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch users. Since 2018, you can also control devices in your home with the HomePod and HomePod mini.
In this article, we'll cover the ways you can access Siri and HomeKit, but the basic idea of HomeKit is a smart home platform that prioritizes Apple devices and other compatible brands. Keep reading and check out our guide to the best smart speakers to learn more.
What do you use HomeKit for? In the simplest of terms, HomeKit is essentially the name for Apple's smart home platform. Like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant, HomeKit is where you control all of the smart tech and devices in your home, which you can access or control through Siri voice commands, your phone, or from other Apple devices such as Apple TV or iPads . Siri is Apple's virtual assistant, and they're the ones that respond to you when you use voice commands. For some inspiration on how to use them to control your home, check out our tricks to make Siri work harder.
As we'll discuss in the next section, HomeKit-compatible smart home devices are more limited than Alexa-compatible ones, but if you choose carefully there isn't much you can't automate, from the best wireless doorbells to air conditioners and smoke detectors. (Image: Arlo)
What are the downsides of HomeKit? Apple is known for its quality control and has transferred its critical nature to its smart home controls. This means there are far fewer compatible brands and devices for HomeKit users, but pretty much every area is covered in one way or another. According to the official Apple site, 50 brands currently offer compatibility, including Arlo, Hive, LIFX, Philips Hue, Bang & Olufsen, and JBL. The other limitation is your choice of smart speaker, as Apple currently only offers two options: the HomePod 2 and HomePod mini. While the mini is very reasonably priced at around $99, the recently released HomePod (2nd gen) comes in closer to $300 - very expensive in terms of the best smart speakers. Overall, using HomeKit for your smart home will also steer you towards Apple's other services, be it Apple Music or an Apple Watch, as they will work much more seamlessly than services running on Android or any other platform. (Image credit: Philips)
Why would you choose HomeKit over Alexa and Google? Now that we've covered the reasons why you shouldn't buy from the HomeKit ecosystem, how about some reasons why you should? A system purpose-built to work together - Alexa and Google Home may win in terms of the number of devices that work with their smart home systems, but Apple has unparalleled brand loyalty. A smaller number of devices means everything can work together smoothly, whether it's Apple-branded speakers or the best smart bulbs from third-party brands. Smart speaker quality - Apple's smart speakers are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to sound quality, with even the more budget HomePod mini impressing with its bass levels and 360 audio output. Most smart speakers aren't known for their performance in this area, so those who want their smart home hubs to also offer top-quality audio will do well with HomePod. (Image credit: Future)
How do you get HomeKit? If you've opted for HomeKit, your next step is to purchase a device that acts as a hub for your new smart home. It's almost always best to assign this task to a smart speaker (in this case, the HomePod 2 or HomePod mini), as it's the easiest way to control your other devices while expanding your system. However, products such as iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV also have Siri on board. Today's best HomePod deals
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