How to use facial recognition in your photo library with Apple HomeKit Secure Video

Cupertino, February 11, 2021

Apple prefers that your private data remain on your devices. This philosophy has hindered and delayed a number of product features that some of Apple's competitors launched earlier, but the compromise is often worth it. A few months ago, Apple improved its HomeKit Secure Video integration with the Home iOS / iPadOS 14 app to allow you to link the People app to your photo library, while offering nothing Apple - or providing a hole for others. to spy.

However, there are many terms to unpack! HomeKit Secure Video is Apple's iCloud-based home security camera storage and monitoring system. Apple does not sell cameras, but this system works with about 10 cameras from several manufacturers. (I changed my existing Logitech circle from the Logitech system to Apple a few months ago.) You need a 200GB or 2TB iCloud storage subscription and a device that works as a HomeKit hub: an iPad (always connected), a Apple TV or a HomePod.

Like Apple's general approach to privacy, all data entering or leaving your network is encrypted with stored keys no more on your devices The HomeKit hub mediates this encryption, so you never have to deal with it. Access videos from the Home app on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, and you can view your camera on an Apple TV.

For facial recognition, Apple does not upload data from your network to its servers. Instead, it's based on faces you've already identified in the Photo app. This data is smartly synced across all your devices via iCloud, but always encrypted so that Apple can't access it even if it wants to. (This is more or less the same method used for end-to-end encrypted sync of iCloud Keychain, iMessages, and a few other categories of personal data.)

mac911 homekit name matching IDG

Videos in which someone is recognized appear with their name, as well as optional notifications. (Faded name for privacy.)

mac911 homekit face rec config IDG

You can configure face recognition to identify household members, among other options.

Home for macOS stays in place (even in Big Sur), so you need a device running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 to enable and set up facial recognition and a photo library connected to the same iCloud account used on your iPhone or iPad.

Here's how to use it:

  1. Launch the Home app.
  2. Select the camera preview.
  3. Click the wheel icon.
  4. Touch Facial recognition.

Then you have a number of options:

  • Touch Your name Library and control access to facial matches in your library, including if you want to share these matches with others who have access to the same devices through the Home app.
  • Touch Known for household and you can identify people living in the house and can hide notifications when they appear on the room. This reduces notifications.
  • As people appear in the camera view, they are added to the recent list. You can touch this and add names or associate faces, and those people are added to the household list.
mac911 homekit face add IDG

Unrecognized faces appear and can be labeled.

At no time do your matches or actions leave your computer to provide Apple with details about images, facial matches, or behavioral data based on their encryption policies and techniques.

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