Apple smart home: the intricacies of organizing home control systems from the apple company

Vasily Borutsky
Checked by a specialist: Vasily Borutsky
Author: Mikhail Yashin
Last update: May 2019

Many well-known manufacturers of electronics and software are now developing a promising and profitable area of ​​integrated automation of living space. One of these developments was the smart home Apple HomeKit.

The American giant has earned an impeccable reputation based on the quality of its products. This is the reason why you should definitely familiarize yourself with this interesting project.

We offer you to learn about the principles of operation and functionality of a smart home, the advantages and disadvantages of an automated system from Apple. Those who plan to use the HomeKit framework will find useful information about devices that can be integrated into a closed complex without problems.

Smart Home Principles

Connecting automation devices from Apple is implemented through the framework Homekitthat runs on iPhone, iPad, or AppleTV devices. It allows you to design and integrate project modules smart home.

HomeKit finds and registers the elements that will be included in the project. Then the user can specify the scenarios of their work, thus setting the order of automatic actions in the house or its individual rooms.

Objects on HomeKit
One of the benefits of Apple’s automation is that the control and information device is always at hand.

There are various types of simple scripts that can be implemented using HomeKit home automation.

Apple's system may respond to the following events:

  • Change in state of the environment. If the temperature in the room exceeds a predetermined figure, then the air conditioning system will turn on.
  • The onset of a particular time of day or day of the week. Turn on house lighting at night.
  • Getting directions from the user. Turn on the TV by voice command.
  • Change of position of residents. Automatically turns off the light if all people have left the house.

Based on the templates, the user can design more complex scenarios.All of this can be considered high-level programming with an intuitive interface familiar to owners of devices made by Apple.

In 2014, the company implemented for HomeKit connecting to the function of its cloud-based voice assistant Siri. After the words “hello Siri”, you can give a sound command (for example, “turn on the light in the kitchen” or “open the front door”) and the smart house will react to it.

Siri Voice Assistant
Siri's voice assistant is familiar to Apple device owners in other applications, so you don’t have to specially learn how to use it

At first there were a lot of complaints about Siri, but now progress in the development of voice-based question-answer management has led to a significant improvement in the work of this functionality. However, the Siri system does not always correctly “understand” the user's requirements. The Russian version of this service is available in iOS versions 8.3 and higher.

HomeKit Devices

The HomeKit system is closed. In order for devices to be recognized without additional tricks (for example, using special services such as HomeBridge), they must be certified by Apple. Therefore, the number of elements of a smart home is not as diverse as for projects carried out using the “open sources” technology.

Localization of accessories for Russia

There are few accessories of a smart home that are officially intended for use in Russia. All of them are presented on the official Apple website. The main vector for promoting this direction is the USA, where some standards differ from European ones. This mainly concerns the parameters of power supply.

Also, problems with the possibility of using devices that are designed for the American market arise with locks.

The American Deadbolt standard is designed for 1/2 or 3/4 turn of the key, and not for full cycles of 180 °. Therefore, together with SmartLock, you will have to write out and mount the locking mechanism.

Apple HomeKit Compatibility Mark
Devices compatible with Apple HomeKit are indicated by this icon. You can see their localization and characteristics in the device passport or in the technical documentation

There are many such examples of non-compliance with standards. Specialists of online stores offering accessories for HomeKit are not always aware of such subtleties, and often simply do not warn customers about this.

Therefore, the responsibility for the operability of purchased devices that are not intended for our country lies solely with the buyer.

Lamps and light modules

Apple offers Russian customers only 3 brand LED lamps Lifxthat operate on 220 V and have a standard threaded base E27:

  • Lifx A60 - multi-color lamp, consumes 11 watts, with a maximum brightness of 1100 lm;
  • Lifx Mini A60 - less overall analogue of the previous model; also multi-color, consumes 9 watts, while giving a brightness of 800 lm;
  • Lifx Mini Day & Dusk A60 - this lamp is similar to the previous model, only works in white or yellow spectrum. If there is no need for color lighting, then it is better to take it, since it is one third cheaper.

All lamps do not support glow at full power. For these devices, you do not need a hub or other elements, since everything you need is already integrated into them.

Smart Lamps for Apple
Such lamps are often used when lighting bedrooms and living rooms. They are expensive, so installing them around the house will be unprofitable

Lifx has 8 more lamp models, but they are designed for the E26 base, which is typical for lighting systems in the US and Canada. They will have to be adapted to our connection standards.

There are devices from other manufacturers, for example, Feit electric or Koogeekwho also work together with HomeKit. They may have other features: like a lamp Feit OM60 works from 120 V, so a step-down transformer will be necessary to install on the line.

In addition to lamps, other solutions can be used for lighting. Stylish designer item - light panel Nanoleaf light panelswhich has brightness and color adjustment.

It consists of LED modules, each of which has the shape of a regular triangle with each side about 25 cm long. They can be combined to create original patterns.

Nanoleaf Light Panels
The maximum number of modules in one design is 30 pieces. Their weight is small, so the sections can be glued to double-sided tape. Although the manufacturer can order branded mounting bolts

The module comes with the panel Rhythm. It is an audio visualizer that transmits a signal to the elements in accordance with the sound background. This combination is often used to design nightclubs.

Another stylish device is a wireless remote control Nanoleaf remote. It is made in the form of a dodecahedron (duohedral). Using HomeKit, you can set 12 modes of operation of the panels, and to select them, just put the Nanoleaf Remote on one of the faces. A simple rotation of this remote control can add or reduce the brightness of the panels.

Intelligent switches and sockets

Carrying your iPhone around the house all the time is not very convenient. Therefore, to perform standard actions, you can use the switches installed anywhere.

Model Eve button from company Elgato is a portable button. Using such devices, they control devices and run scripts when there is no iPhone at hand. It can be carried with you or attached in a place convenient for the user.

To work with this model, you need to configure iPad with iOS v.11.4 or Apple TV with tvOS v.11 as a home station. The button recognizes a single, double or long press, so you can develop 3 different scenarios for it. It is powered by CR2032 lithium batteries.

All models operating from the power supply network of this and other companies (Fibaro, iDevice, Koogeek etc.) are designed for 120 V, so they are not supplied for Russia.

Smart Button Elgato Eve Button
The front panel of the button is only black, so it does not always fit well into the interior. Object length and width: 54 mm, depth: 13 mm

You can solve the issue of integrating electrical appliances into a smart home that do not support HomeKit technology using outlets. They work according to the Apple standard and can supply power or turn it off. The choice of devices localized for Russia is also not very impressive: only one model is available Elgato eve energy.

There are five versions with different sizes of this device. For Russia, you need to order the “European” option. The maximum allowable current is 11 A, and the voltage value should be in the range from 100 to 240 V.

The socket also works as a counter, so with the help of HomeKit you can control the energy consumption of those devices that are powered through it.

The same manufacturer and many other companies (iDevice, Koogeek, Legrand, Vocolink) There are sockets for a smart home under the American standard 120 V.

Ventilation and air conditioning systems

So far, for Russia, Apple has not certified a single fan, air conditioner, heater, or air purification system. The reason is typical for electrical appliances running HomeKit - the power supply parameters. Those models that can be controlled from a smartphone are designed for a voltage of 100-120 V.

Types of sockets in different countries
Electricity supply standards vary in many countries. This is expressed in different voltage and shape of the outlets. When purchasing devices online, you need to make sure that they are designed for our country

Company Hunter releases 4 models of ceiling fans, 54 ″ wide, which work with the Apple system. Technically, they are almost identical and differ only in design.

So far, only air conditioners Haier passed Apple certification. His subsidiary General Electric Company released a line with a capacity of 8000-12000 BTU for the US market. One model is produced by the parent company only for the Chinese market.

Oil heater De’longhi Multi-Dynamic Heater power of 1.5 kW produced for the Japanese market. It has 5 steps of heating intensity and operates on a voltage of 100 V.

Taiwanese company launches Air Purifier for US market CviLux Corporation (O’pro9 brand) and Korean Coway corporation.

Sensors for smart home

Sensors are the most numerous and diverse group of elements of any smart home. Apple offers 4 diverse models for use in Russia.All of them are produced by a German company. Elgato.

Weather station Eve degree Detects and displays temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. Powered by CR2450 form factor batteries. Writes data to the Apple cloud service.

Eve Degree Weather Station
The station case is made of anodized aluminum. It is completely wireless and can be used both in the house and on the street.

Room air analyzer Eve room shows quality (presence of volatile organic substances), temperature and room humidity. There is a function of recording measurements, so you can track the dynamics of the observed indicators.

Information is displayed on the device display. The dimensions of the analyzer are 54 * 54 mm. Power can be either from the AC mains through the adapter, or from batteries.

Contact sensor Eve Door & Window designed to indicate the state of the door or window - they are open or closed. The device is wireless and runs on an ER14250 form factor battery. Data is transmitted using Bluetooth technology.

Wireless motion sensor Eve motion Designed to determine the process of displacement in the zone of its operation. It works via Bluetooth, and the power comes from removable “AA” batteries.

Among the sensors that Apple does not offer for various reasons for Russia, we can distinguish those that do not duplicate the functions of devices from Elgato:

  • Fibaro flood sensor - a device from a Polish company is designed to signal water leaks;
  • Netatmo Healthy Home Coach - this device from a French company duplicates the functions of a home weather station, measuring temperature and humidity, but it also gives an indicator of carbon dioxide concentration and noise level;
  • Netatmo Smart Smoke Alarm - Smoke detector with the function of immediate notification of the smartphone owner about a problem.

These sensors can be bought in Russia in various online stores.

Internet devices and multimedia

Apple has not included receivers, speakers, and network bridges in the list of products it offers in Russia. Nevertheless, you can buy these accessories in large networks and, especially, through the Internet.

Apple HomePod speakers
Apple has its own speakers - Apple HomePod. They are easy to set up and are well suited for creating a sound background in a smart home.

Apple has developed its own protocol for wireless transmission of sweat multimedia data over a local network between its products and other devices - Airplay. It was introduced back in 2004 and was called AirTunes, and in 2017 the AirPlay2 version was released. You can connect speakers and receivers to HomeKit if they support this standard.

Using the Home application, the owner of the iPhone or iPad can make flexible settings for multimedia equipment. It can be used as a single sound source or grouped into stereo pairs and multi-rooms.

Many models of receivers of a well-known Japanese company are suitable for HomeKit Denon, which specializes in the production of Hi-End class equipment. Three models of the Uniti series of the English company are also available. Naim.

In addition to the Apple HomePod, speakers from other companies can function on AirPlay2:

  • Danish Bang & olufsen;
  • Japanese Denon;
  • Danish Libratone;
  • Japanese Marantz;
  • English Naim;
  • American Sonos.

To remotely control a smart home from a mobile application, you need a special device, which manufacturers call differently:

  • network bridge (Bridge) - Apple, Philips;
  • smart hub (Smart Hub) - Amazon, Google, Samsung;
  • gateway (Gateway) - IKEA, Xiaomi.

If the house has an Apple TV, then it may well cope with this function, but in its absence you will either have to purchase a device from Apple or buy and configure a cheaper network bridge.

Network Bridge Scheme
The scheme of remote control of smart home devices using a network bridge. No special computer knowledge is required to set up such a system.

There are more than 20 firms offering network bridges that are compatible with HomeKit. Their list is on the website of Apple.

Security and Detection Systems

The only security integrated system developed by the American corporation is designed for HomeKit so far. Honeywell It is based on the Lyric Controller LCP500.

For Russia, this device is not suitable, since voice control supports only 4 languages: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. In addition, its power supply is rated at 110 V.

Apple proposes for Russia to use only one camera manufactured by the company in its HomeKit system D-link - A well-known Taiwanese manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.

Model Omna 180 Cam HD It has the most advanced technological features:

  • Resolution Full HD 1080;
  • viewing angle 180 °;
  • microSD support;
  • two-way audio transmission;
  • the night vision.

Connecting this camera to a smart home allows you to send video to user devices when registering movement. This is possible with Apple software starting with tvOS v. 10.1 or iOS v. 10.1.

For other countries, camcorders working in conjunction with HomeKit release Swiss Logitech, french Netatmo and Somfy.

Locks operated by Apple are not for sale in Russia.

Models produced for other countries can be divided into two categories:

  • lining on the locking device;
  • full mechanism with electronic filling.

When purchasing linings, you need to find out the type of lock for which they are designed.

Sense Smart Deadbolt
Castle of the American company Schlade. Sense Smart Deadbolt can be opened with a key or by dialing a four-digit code. When the state changes, a signal will be sent to Apple devices

Locks can work only with a key or also have a digital touch screen for dialing a code.

Automatic Window Curtains

Motorized curtains running Apple are designed for automated light control in the room. They can be closed or opened at the user's command or according to a specified schedule.

Apple does not offer such solutions for our country, so if you want to use the technology of automated curtains, you need to order a model of one of three companies yourself:

  • American Lutron - curtains Serena Motorized Shades;
  • Chinese Dooya - Smart Curtain model;
  • french Netatmo - curtains Velux Active.

To connect with Apple devices, complete with Lutron curtains, you need to purchase a Caseta Wireless network bridge.

Mechanized Garage Doors

Sliding or lifting garage doors are not so popular in Russia. Therefore, Apple does not offer for sale devices for their automatic opening.

Automated Overhead Garage Doors
A small proportion of sliding and lifting gates in Russia is due to the low percentage of private housing to multi-unit, as well as low temperatures that disable the mechanism

If desired, you can purchase sliding gate control devices yourself, but you need to understand that voice commands can only be given in English.

The following companies are compatible with HomeKit:

  • Italian Nice;
  • American Liftmaster;
  • English Chamberlain.

All controllers are designed to work with gate drives manufactured by the same companies.

Other certified solutions

Elgato has developed two more original devices for HomeKit, which are also localized for Russia.

Irrigation system Eve aqua designed to automate the irrigation system of the garden or greenhouse. It can be automatically controlled using HomeKit. The functionality of the water supply on schedule has been implemented. The device is made in the form of a hose connector and runs on batteries of type “AA”.

Watering system Elgato Eve Aqua
A flow sensor is integrated into the Eve Aqua watering system, which can stop the irrigation process when the set volume is reached

Thermostatic valve Evo termo allows you to set individual heating scenarios. With it, you can adjust the temperature depending on the time of day. It is mounted at the radiator inlet using a screw connection. This device is powered by two “AA” batteries.

Pros and Cons of the Apple System

Apple is far from the first company to develop its own smart home system. Among the largest manufacturers of electronics and software can be called Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and Xiaomi.

In addition, there are open systems, for example, based on circuit boards Arduino or Raspberry.

Main advantages of HomeKit

The first and most obvious advantage of Apple HomeKit is its ease of connection. In order to integrate the device into a smart home, you do not need specific knowledge in the field of electronics, electrics or programming. Almost any person is capable of twisting a light bulb into a base or attaching a light sensor to a wall.

Bulb for HomeKit
Owners of luminaires for HomeKit do not need to understand how to use a capacitor to smooth out flicker, since it is already embedded in the lamps. But for those who assemble a smart home at the level of electronics and details, this knowledge is required

The second plus is the ability to use Apple devices to control home appliances. This is especially true for fans of the company who are familiar with the interface of iOS-systems.

You can not ignore the assistant Siri, which allows you to use voice orders to control your smart home. Since the range of commands is not very large, the system works almost flawlessly and very rarely makes mistakes. The only thing that when using it is access to the Internet.

Another plus is the fact that all devices that will be marked for compatibility with HomeKit are certified by Apple. Since the company's brand is “expensive”, only high-quality devices will be able to go through this procedure.

Clear flaws and problems

Apple, with the involvement of manufacturers, went along a simple path - implemented a connecting interface and began to wait for firms to adapt their devices to it. The calculation was, obviously, on the promotion of the brand and the large army of potential customers who are fans of the iPhone.

IOS share in the US market
The iOS market share in the US is large enough for Apple to count on HomeKit's demand. Then the system will receive a good boost in development

We can say that the development of the HomeKit concept is a bit late. Therefore, the number of devices that can now be operated by a smart home is small. In addition, the company’s policy is focused primarily on the US market, so for Russia the list of suitable elements is very small.

Many devices that can work under HomeKit are designed for power supply of 100-120 V. In fact, it is not difficult to connect such devices, as you can power individual elements or entire circuits through a step-down transformer.

And when conducting the wiring of a new house, it is enough to foresee contours with suitable voltage values ​​in advance.

It should also be noted that the price of many elements for HomeKit is very high. The cost of the lighting system of the 6 cheapest Lifx Mini Day & Dusk A60 lamps will be about 20 thousand rubles. For comparison, the cost of the Arduino MKR WiFi 1010 board and 6 PLED-T32 / 115 LED lamps for 800 lm is about 3 thousand rubles.

Arduino-based lighting assembly
Assembling a lighting system based on Arduino or similar concepts is much cheaper. But this requires special knowledge

All HomeKit automation is implemented through “scripts." That is, there is no complete programming, analysis of several information channels and triggering events based on these data.

Although the example of the same iPhone shows that Apple first fulfills the basic functionality and only then develops the “intelligence” of the system. Therefore, it is possible that after some time HomeKit will indeed become “smart”, and not just automated.

Who will use the “apple” smart home?

You can opt for the HomeKit system if:

  • be the owner of devices from Apple and experience the comfort of working with iOS;
  • prefer more expensive, but simple to configure and operate solutions;
  • Do not require smart home to perform any non-standard tasks and be content with the functionality that Apple offers.

If a person does not meet at least one of the above criteria, then you need to pay attention to other proposals. Moreover, the topic of smart home is now very popular, which led to serious competition in the automation market of residential facilities.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Work with a smart home through HomePod. Examples of accessing the Siri sound assistant:

Overview of Elgato devices for Apple HomeKit. Socket, motion sensor, open door sensor. Management with Siri:

Work with bulbs of a smart home. Adjust brightness and color via iPhone:

Apple's HomeKit system offers expensive, but very easy to configure and manage solutions for automating residential space management. Now there are not so many devices that can be fully included in a smart home, but their list is gradually expanding.

Have something to supplement, or have questions about organizing Apple's smart home control systems? You can leave comments on the publication, participate in discussions and share your own experience in using automated systems. The contact form is located in the lower block.

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