The HomeKit app and Apple Home haven’t received a lot of time in these dub-fast fire years, but there have been some significant announcements. For this year’s iOS release, Apple is adding improvements to face detection for its HomeKit Secure Video feature, deeper integration of the HomePod and Apple TV, and changing the color for the lights. Of course, some minor changes and visual features have also been announced, so let’s dive into everything that comes in iOS 14.
In iOS / iPadOS 14 setting up a HomeKit accessory will look a little different, but familiar. As with AirPods and HomePods, users will now see that an overlap occurs when a HomeKit accessory is available to pair.
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Once an accessory is paired, users will receive handy suggestions for the device, such as adding it to a light scene or location-based automation.
HomeKit controls have also gotten some love in iOS 14, in the form of a new look of the control center. The latest update supports individual scenes and favorite props in line with other controls, so you no longer have to tap a Home icon to access them.
HomeKit accessories are displayed with the same icon as other control buttons, such as screen recording. Scenes have larger icons that mimic their appearance in the Home app. It is currently unclear whether they are limited to favorites so far, but we would definitely like to see that be the case.
Overview of the startup application
In the Home app, Apple has redesigned the status overview to include circular icons for the accessories that are used. This new view replaces the text descriptions that are used to transmit the number of lights in the house or if a door is unlocked.
In iOS 14, the text area has been replaced with a set of circular icons to represent the state of the home at a glance. Users can tap directly on these icons to quickly change accessory states, such as closing the garage door, if it is listed as open.
First introduced with iOS 9.3 in 2016, Night Shift, Apple’s color-changing feature, designed to promote rest and improve sleep, has made its way into the world of smart home accessories. iMore contributor and co-founder of Anxiety-videos.com Georgia Dow, summarized the feature in an excellent breakdown when it was first introduced:
During the day we get wet from the sunlight. Unlike Superman or Supergirl, which gives it an incredible power, in our light suppresses melatonin. As it gets darker, we produce more melatonin. It usually starts a few hours before bedtime and grows a lot around midnight. This helps us fall asleep and make sure we get a good night’s rest.
A blue light with a shorter wavelength, on the other hand, does the opposite: it suppresses melatonin and accumulates histamine that helps us wake up. Unfortunately, electronic displays such as those on phones and tablets have a higher concentration of blue light than the sun. So when you lie down at night playing Candy Crush, watching YouTube or reading iMore, you are enticed by the blue light and wreak havoc with our circadian rhythm. In other words, it resets that feeling of fatigue and hurts our sleep cycle.
For the home, Apple is able to use the multitude of light bulbs, lamps and temperature-adjustable smart panels to create an automatic program that changes throughout the day. Once activated, HomeKit will adjust the colors during the day to cooler shades of white, and during the evening, HomeKit will change color to warmer, yellow tones.
The best part of the feature is that it requires nothing more than a few taps in the Home app. There are also no bulbs or special brands to buy to use the function, any adjustable bulb will work, but the actual results may vary.
Apple’s secure HomeKit video, while still in its infancy, is already running in the background to provide smart, action-based notifications from the supported camera vision. In combination with a HomeKit hub, such as an Apple TV, HomePod, or an iPad, image analysis is performed locally to determine if a motion event includes a human, animal, or vehicle.
Camcorders and door bells can now identify the people you’ve tagged in the Photos app.4 Easily tag people and choose to be notified based on that person.
In iOS 14, Apple continues this analysis process even more, by detecting the face. As its name suggests, the latest feature can distinguish between people in a camera or ringtone view, and can provide notifications that include a person’s name. An example of this would be a notification stating that “Jon got home” or “Jon rings the bell”, which is perfect for keeping tabs on house events during the day.
Faces are trained by labeling in the Photos app, so there’s no new learning process, making it easy for everyone to get up and work.
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The latest face detection features for HomeKit also integrate with Apple’s smart speaker, HomePod. When someone presses the button on a HomeKit-enabled ringtone, the HomePod can announce who is actually at the door.
Areas of activity for cameras
HomeKit cameras, although great, have been hampered by the lack of custom activity areas, creating a mess when it comes to notifications. This is changing in iOS 14, with Apple finally providing this capability, which is set directly in the Home app.
The function allows users to define which areas of the camera view will be used for detection, by drawing and positioning custom shapes. In addition to drawing shapes for certain areas, users can also use a reverse option that can quickly cover larger areas.
When combined with A.I. Image analysis features already offered through HomeKit Secure Video, users can exclude animals or vehicles, and now parts of viewing a room, such as a sidewalk, are occupied.
Apple TV Control Center
On the Apple TV, you can now find controls for Home apps in the control center, accessible by a long press of the Home button. Although it doesn’t look like every HomeKit accessory will be available, your favorite cameras and scenes have been displayed.
Clicking on a camera in this view will open a live view of the full screen, complete with audio. Previously, cameras on Apple TV were only accessible through third-party applications and did not include audio, which was a strange limitation.
More updates coming soon
We update the details on the new features that come with HomeKit and the Home app as we get to iOS 14. Come back later for more details!
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