Wondering which smart bulbs work best with Apple HomeKit? While the offering isn't as robust as smart bulbs that work with Alexa and Google Assistant, there are a growing number of Apple HomeKit bulbs that work exclusively with your iOS devices. The best HomeKit bulbs can make all your old lighting fixtures compatible with your Apple smart home, and you can control them with Siri through an Apple smart speaker like the HomePod Mini or the Home app for iOS. After extensive testing, we're confident that the best HomeKit bulbs are the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (available at Amazon), which consistently ranks first for its bright colors, easy setup, easy-to-use app, and ample versatility. However, we've tested plenty of other HomeKit lights for you to choose from.
Credit: Reviewed / Nick Schmiedicker
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs offer some of the brightest and most vibrant colors of any smart bulb we tested that works with Alexa.
Hi, I'm Rachel Murphy, Review's home editor, and I've been into smart home devices for a number of years. I add to the previous testing by Sarah Kovac, Reviewed's accessibility editor (and former smart home).
To find out which smart bulb is best for Apple HomeKit, we bought the best-selling bulbs with the highest rating and tested them in a real home with lamps and different lighting fixtures. Each lamp was tested with the Home app on an iPhone or iPad. We also tested the companion app for each light on iOS devices to see if the experience was the same on both platforms, testing response times over the Wi-Fi network and data. Finally, we tested each lamp with Siri to measure the lamp's functionality and responsiveness to voice commands.
What you need to know about Apple HomeKit smart bulbs
Everything about Apple Home Hubs
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy
We tested the smart bulbs with an Apple HomePod (no longer available), but you can also use an iPad, HomePod Mini or an Apple TV as house use Center. An Apple Home Hub is required to control your HomeKit-enabled devices and run automations when you're away from home using the Home app or Siri voice control. The Apple Home Hub acts as an intermediary between you and your devices for remote control when you're away from home. An iPad, HomePod Mini, Apple TV, or the discontinued HomePod (if you have one) all work as a Home Hub. The Home Hub should stay at home, near your HomeKit gadgets, so you can control them when you're away.
Set up Apple HomeKit lights
All HomeKit devices have a scannable barcode with an eight-digit number that is unique to your specific device. You need this code to add your HomeKit lamp to the Apple Home app. To install an Apple HomeKit bulb, screw it into a lamp fixture. Open the Home app on your iOS device > tap the plus sign icon > tap 'Add Accessory'. Scan the barcode on the bulb in the Home app, enter the code manually or wait for the accessory to appear in the app (make sure it's turned on). A second barcode can usually be found in the manual if you have trouble scanning the code directly from the lamp. The Home app will guide you through the final steps, but it shouldn't take more than a minute or two for your Homekit lights to be online.
Apple HomeKit Lighting Features To Try
A Home Hub is also needed to take advantage of Apple's adaptive lighting feature. This is an optional feature that allows your lights to change color temperature based on the time of day. In short, it's an autopilot for anyone who doesn't want to fiddle with their lights all day, but you won't find it on every HomeKit smart bulb. The Home app offers even more useful automations, like turning the lights on when the first person comes home and turning them off when the last person leaves.
Privacy and Apple HomeKit
There's always a security risk when using internet-connected devices at home, but there are ways you can protect your privacy when using HomeKit devices. Apple claims that all HomeKit user data is encrypted end-to-end locally (i.e. on your Home Hub) before being sent to the cloud, so no one but you can access it. HomeKit's infrastructure uses iCloud, iOS, iPadOs and macOS to "protect and sync private data without exposing it" to others, including Apple employees. To further secure your account, enable two-factor authentication and ensure your password is unique and difficult to guess. You can read more about Apple's HomeKit data security policy. One thing to know is that by default, Apple saves your Siri voice interactions (one of the main ways to control HomeKit accessories) and may rate the audio clips to help improve Siri's accuracy. You can opt out by turning off Siri & Dictation by going to Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvement > Turn off Siri & Dictation Enhance. To delete your Siri voice history on a HomePod, open the Home app, press and hold the HomePod icon, select Siri History > tap Delete Siri History, then tap to confirm the deletion. To delete your Siri voice history on an iPhone or iPad, open Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History > Delete Siri & Dictation History. For more information, see Apple's Siri Dictation and Privacy Disclaimer.
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