Home app: What's changed in iOS 13

Cupertino, September 19, 2019

What's new in the Home app?

The Apple Home app may not be the brightest app of the moment, but it is essential for those who interact daily with their HomeKit accessories. Although the basics of the application are still the same in iOS 13, the application has got a much needed variety on some of the icons used to represent our props. Orders for some accessories have also been updated to provide a more consistent user experience.

Icons updated (finally!)

ios13 home app icons

Finally, yes, Apple has provided new accessory icons in the Home application. Gone are the days when one had to use a suspension icon to represent a chandelier or desk lamp for a more decorative table lamp. Here is the complete list of new icons available:

  • Table lamp
  • Recessed light
  • Strip of Light
  • Cylindrical floor lamp
  • Chandelier
  • Seeing
  • Bulb
  • Ceiling fan
  • Tower fan
  • Curtains
  • Roller blind
  • blind
  • Port window (hatch)
  • Sliding window
  • Single-pane window
  • Sliding glass door
  • Door
  • French doors
  • Door lock with keyboard
  • Smoke detector
  • CO detector
  • Motion sensor
  • Outlets (various forms around the world)
  • Cameras
  • Moisture sensor
  • Sprinkler

The icons for the scenes however remain intact, with the same set available for years, still taking the responsibility to cover our complicated scenes.

Fantasy animations

ios13 home app icon animation

In addition to the updated game icons, the Home application has received new whimsical animations. Most of these animations come to life when you activate and deactivate your accessories, such as a bright bulb or a swing door handle to illustrate the unlocking of your HomeKit lock. Some animations, like those of HomeKit cameras, will be played when you scroll through them in the Home application, which is subtle but still nice to see. Accessory animations for devices such as fans are also displayed in the Automations tab, which allows you to quickly view the states involved in automation.

New controls

The control screens for some accessories have also been revamped in iOS 13. These screens (which can be detected by touching a device haptically) offer a completely different way of interacting with the thermostat settings. Instead of a slider, thermostats are now described as semicircles, following the familiar curved form factor that thermostats are synonymous with.

homekit ios13 wwdc2019 thermostat controls

Devices with multiple controls now display more compactly, each displayed on a single screen. Accessories such as smart color bulbs have both a power switch and fast color presets on the same screen. Finally, for HomeKit cameras, a new option to display the controls of devices in the same "room" is available with a simple tap while viewing the camera's stream.

Sensor grouping

Although we are happy to see some of the updated visuals in the Home application, there is an update in iOS 13 that seems to be a step backwards. In each version of the Home application since its inception, accessories with multiple sensors have been provided with a separate "mosaic" for each indicated metric. So, a device that reports motion, temperature and humidity, will have 3 individual tiles in the application, making the information available at a glance.

ios13 home app sensor grouping

In iOS 13, accessories with multiple sensors are now grouped into a device tile. This means that our previous example of device with motion, temperature and humidity sensors will be condensed to only 1 mosaic for the 3 metrics, which will remove the glanceability we had before. Suppose that if this device is a motion sensor, it will display the status of movement on the device's thumbnail. To see other sensor data, you must now tap the thumbnail. We can see that this is very painful for those who like to review their temperatures for these multi-sensors from the Favorites tab as they will now require prior interaction.

Splash screens an abundance

ios13 home app splash screen

IOS 13 also offers a new set of integration screens or splash screens designed to inform the user of changes. These screens include a general overview of what's new, explanation of commands, HomePod personal queries, support for multiple voice on HomePod, and Apple TV profiles. During the beta versions of iOS 13, users have also seen a splash screen for HomeKit Secure Video, which, unfortunately, is not yet fully cooked.

Under the hood

Although there has not been a ton of new under the hood, an API change will be interesting for HomeKit application developers. These developers will now be able to determine whether home access has been assigned to the application by the user. This allows developers to provide a troubleshooting step if your accessories do not appear in a third-party application.

Missing features of HomeKit in iOS 13

As with some of the other features promised with iOS 13, Apple had to cancel some major changes to HomeKit. One missing feature is the HomeKit Secure Video, which is an attempt by Apple to lock the streams and recordings of your HomeKit camera to protect your data and in iCloud. This feature has progressed during the beta period as developers can find some of the UI and splash screens for this feature, but this feature is not yet available.

ios 13 homekit secure video

HomeKit compatible routers are also missing at the moment. Introduced at WWDC in June, this feature will allow HomeKit routers to better manage data passing through and between your HomeKit accessories. Since the unveiling, Apple and router manufacturers have made no announcement about the brands and models that can support it, so it seems that this may still be non-existent.

AirPlay 2 and shortcuts in HomeKit automations will also not appear in the initial version of iOS 13. However, these features are currently available in the latest iOS 13.1 beta, which is scheduled for release at the end of the month. (more on the one below).

Chronology of missing features

Unfortunately, Apple has not yet provided a schedule indicating the conditions under which features such as HomeKit Secure Video compatible routers and HomeKit. However, the next iOS 13.1 release, scheduled for the end of September, will introduce AirPlay 2 devices into the fold of automation, thus offering truly fantastic features. One example is to play your favorite song on your HomePod when you set up a HomeKit scene to relax.

The shortcuts will also be expanded to further integrate HomeKit into iOS 13.1. This will allow users to mix their favorite shortcuts with HomeKit scenes and automations. This allows you to activate shortcuts such as turning off Wi-Fi on your iPhone when your start scene is turned on.

What do you think about the changes made to the Home app in iOS 13?

While the overall functionality of the Home app remains the same, Apple has sprinkled many visual enhancements that breathe new life into the utility application. What do you think about updated icon games? What do you think of the changes made to the display of several sensors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



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