Smart home app iPhone

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• View images of activity captured by motion sensors
• Search your complete event history
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• Know if someone changes your thermostat settings
• Be alerted if someone attempts to log on to your account
• And much more!

Most iOS users will already be used to using their iPhone or iPad in just about any situation – to kill a bit of time with some games; to check the train schedule; to write a shopping list; to watch a video – you can do a huge amount with these tiny computers.

But what you can do with the device isn’t just limited to things contained within its screen – you can control your home from it as well. Instead of getting up to hit the light switch, you can just grab your iPhone. To see what’s on and change the channel, grab your iPad. Everything from the temperature to the curtains can be controlled with the right apps and accessories.

It’s not just about giving commands, though. With wireless audio and video, and remote access to the files on your PC, you can use your iOS device to conduct your digital life like an orchestra. You can even monitor the security of your home when away (or just keep an eye on the baby).

If you think you use an iPhone for everything now, just wait until you’re changing the colour of your mood lighting with it. Soon, you’ll never have to leave your sofa again (with the exception of basic human needs).

The automated home

The idea of home automation has been around for years, with systems that let you control the level of lighting in your home, the temperature, what time the doors lock; systems that can open and close the curtains, turn appliances on and off and much more. In the past, these were only available through expensive installations, and controlling them was awkward, requiring elaborate remote controls or wall-mounted panels.

While the comprehensive home installation is still an option (and is still expensive) for giving you the most complete control, there are also now easier accessories that can give you many of the same options, but just need to be plugged in.

The crucial thing these days is that they’re just about all app-connected – with the right download from the App Store, you can take total control of your house from your iPhone or iPad.

When it comes to lighting, one of the more outlandish options is the Philips Hue set. These LED lightbulbs just plug into regular light sockets, but are wirelessly controlled by a base station that connects to your iPhone or iPad, so you can make lighting changes from the accompanying app.

What makes the Hue different to other light-dimming systems is that you can change not just the brightness of the bulb, but also its colour. The app lets you customise colours, and if you have multiple Hue bulbs, they can be different colours – you can even tell them to match the various colours in a photograph, to set a scene.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hue bulbs are quite expensive, so if you want a similar system for less, have a look at LightwaveRF’s dimmable CFL bulbs. Like the Hue, they work in normal lighting fixtures and you control them from an iOS app. They don’t change colour, but you can control their brightness (or turn them off) without having to install custom light switches.

If you don’t want to buy expensive smart lightbulbs, installing custom light switches can be a great option. You basically replace your current light switch with one that can communicate wirelessly to a compatible base station, and you’ll gain dimmable and remote control of any light that switch connects to. LightwaveRF sells switches that work with its base station, as do many other companies, including Control4 and the X10 range (

I love lamp

If you use a lot of lamps in the home, you can use plug-based systems to control them. LightwaveRF makes plug sockets that can be controlled by your iOS device. Alternatively, the same company makes plug adapters for wireless control – plug your lamp into the adapter, which then plugs into the wall socket.

Belkin’s WeMo range also offers this kind of adapter. They’re more expensive than LightwaveRF for each unit, but don’t require a base station to function (they connect directly to your iPhone), so might cost less up front. In either case, you can then control multiple lamps either independently, or together.

With most of these controller apps, it’s then possible to group sets of lights together, so you can set ‘scenes’ or ‘moods’; a ‘movie’ mood might have your main light off and some side lamps on dimly, for example. The Control4 system includes a Goodnight option, which will turn off all lights in the house in one tap.

Of course, these iOS-controlled plugs and plug adapters can be used for more than just lights. You could control a fan remotely, or turn off your computer or TV at the wall to save power. There’s also a safety aspect – LightwaveRF touts the ability to immediately disable all the power sockets in a room if you’re worried about a child playing with them, for example.

Control freakery

Controlling the heating is something else that’s really useful to be able to do from your device – especially if you want to turn the heating on before you get home.

The Nest thermostat is a smart system that learns about how your home is heated and when you tend to feel cold, and adapts automatically, but it can also be controlled remotely from your iPhone (if you have more than one, you can control them independently too). Control4 also offers a wireless thermostat system, where multiple thermostats can be controlled independently if you have zoned heating.

If you want that kind of granular control without installing separated heating systems, though, there is a simpler option. LightwaveRF offers wirelessly controlled radiator valves that just replace the normal valves on your radiators. Each can be controlled individually, letting you create ‘zoned’ heating without having to have a full installation with multiple thermostats. You can then control the valves with your iPhone as well as the compatible wall-mounted control.

You can even use your iPhone to keep your house secure. This is at its most direct with Control4’s lock system – its smart deadbolt and handles can be installed instead of a regular lock, and can be controlled either by using a good old-fashioned key, by entering a code on the buttons above the lock, or by using your iPhone. Just before bed you could make sure all the locks on your doors are set just by grabbing your iPhone and hitting the button in the app. Z-Wave also offers this type of lock.

Most of these systems will also let you set timers for many things, such as the lights, so you can set them to come on and turn off at certain times, perhaps to give the impression that you’re in. This doesn’t require any further hardware than what we’ve already described – you can just set this in the app. Some systems, such as Z-Wave, even let you open and close the curtains from your iPhone – and that can also be scheduled, so it appears that someone is in your home when you’re on holiday.

Read on to discover how to control your home entertainment with your iOS device.

iPhone, iPad and Android Controlled Wifi Smart Light Bulb



When you’re away from home, set a timer for lights in the house to go on or off. This will deter possible burglars and you can also use this when you are at home too, to go off after you finish reading for the night, etc. This is made possible as they are Wifi light bulbs.


Let your light listen and dance to your music by simply placing your phone close to any music source. The music mode can be used anywhere.


EasyBulb even “knows” when you get SMS or text messages, notifications and more. You can program it to alert you when messages come in! How cool is that? A mood light modern day techno secretary! And it does much more than that! You can control entire lighting groups or individual lights to recognise activity in the house or office, program up to 10 sequence modes, and even create your own app!


EasyBulb Wifi light bulb was designed with conservation in mind so it is energy-efficient and earth-friendly while it also serves as Home Automation lights. They range between 4 to 9 watt LED lights. LEDs have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours, which is equivalent to 25 years of average use. EasyBulb also also comes free of any harmful chemicals such as mercury and other substances so you know the light that is emanating is not harming you, your family, or the earth. It is environment-friendly and features an efficient “dimming” feature which allows you to increase your savings the more you use it – So You Save as you dim. When compared to standard 60-100W bulbs, the Easybulb outshines and outlasts them with much less power output.

So head over to the Easybulb Plus Shop to find the right smart bulb for your home or business.

Smart home devices such as lights, plugs and heating that you can control even when you’re not at home has blossomed in popularity this year – it’s now a must-have rather than something only used by techies.

But with lots of different manufacturers creating different devices, you could find your smartphone is flooded with different apps that you need to control each system.

However, the good news is there is a way to control several different types of devices from one app, called Home, on your iPhone and it’s easy to use!

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How does it work?

Apple launched its HomeKit technology in 2017. It’s free for manufacturers to use this technology in their smart home devices. By doing this, they ensure that their smart home device can be set-up and be controlled by the Home app which comes pre-loaded on iPhones and iPads running iOS 10 or later and is also available for the Apple Watch if it’s running Watch OS3 and the Apple TV. However, you can also control the devices using Apple’s voice assistant Siri from any device that has the voice assistant built-in, including the the Apple smart speaker HomePod.

What devices can be used with the Home app?

Currently there are a more than 30 different smart home products that work with Apple’s HomeKit – everything from Philips Hue and Lifx smart lights to the Honeywell Lyric T6 and Netatmo smart thermostats, Logitech’s Circle wi-fi security camera and smart plugs from Eve and switches and sockets from Lightwave (although only generation 2 work with HomeKit). However, more will be added over time.


GHI TIP: Want to know if your smart home device can be used with Apple HomeKit? Check the box for a ‘Works with HomeKit’ sticker. There will also be a code in the box that can be used for easy set-up.

Is it easy to set-up?

One of the benefits of HomeKit is it makes it super-simple to set up smart home devices. Open the Home app and press the + icon. Then tap ‘add accessory’ and use the camera to scan the 8 digit code that came in the box with your smart home device. The app will locate the device on your network and add it as an accessory, then it’s ready to control.

It’s worth noting that with some smart home devices that require a bridge (or device that is hard-wired to your router and then connects to the smart item itself eg the light bulb) such as Philips Hue, you may need to use the original app to link the item to the bridge before they will be recognised by Home.

Related Story

What can I do with Home?

Not only can you control each individual smart home device from the Home app – eg switching a smart plug on or off or in the case of lights switching them on or off, dimming them or adjust the colour – you can also create different rooms and ensure that only the smart home devices in that room are listed. You can change the background picture of the room – even taking a picture of the room and using that as the wallpaper on the screen for that room.

Furthermore, you can create Scenes that do a combination of things, such as switching everything off for a scene called Goodnight or perhaps turning on a few lights and the heating on in a scene called Arrive Home. You can choose from Apple’s suggested scenes or create a custom one yourself.

Home automation

The Home app can also automate tasks in your home based on your location or time. For example, switching the lights and the TV on when you get home (using your smartphone’s location to determine when you’re home) or ensuring the kettle boils at 5:55 so it’s ready to make a cup of tea at 6pm. However, for this to work you will need an Apple TV 4K or Apple TV 4th generation that’s connected to your wifi network and switched on.

Westend61Getty Images


We tried out the Home app with an Elgato Eve Energy and Lightwave RF Smart sockets and a Lifx smart bulb. They were very straightforward to set-up through the Home app and controlling them and creating scenes was very easy. It certainly made controlling the different smart home devices much simpler and the voice control meant we weren’t always hunting for the phone to turn the lights on.

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Lightwave Power Starter Kit £184.99 TP-Link Smart Plug HS100 £19.99 Amazon Smart Plug £24.99 D-Link DSP-W115 Smart Plug £19.99 Hive Active Smart Plug £29.00 Eve Energy Samrt Plug £44.95 Drayton Wiser Smart Plug & Smart Heating System Range Extender – Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT £41.99 Echo Dot (3rd Gen) + Amazon Smart Plug bundle £49.99

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iOS 10: How to use the new Home app to control HomeKit devices [Video]

Controlling smart home devices with your iPhone or iPad is far from a new concept, but in iOS 10, Apple is lending much more focus to home automation. It’s all thanks to the new built-in Home app that ships with iOS 10 and watchOS 3.

Resident Apple HomeKit enthusiast, Zac Hall, already wrote a thorough walkthrough of the new Home app during the initial iOS 10 beta period, but now that iOS 10 and watchOS 3 are shipping, it’s only right to give it another in-depth visit with a corresponding walkthrough.

What is the Home app?

The new Home app is a centralized hub for managing Apple HomeKit-enabled devices. These are devices that have been specifically certified by Apple to work seamlessly. As you’ll learn, the set up process and day-to-day device interaction has much improved with the release of iOS 10.

Previously, users had to rely on third-party HomeKit apps in order to achieve similar functionality. A good example of this is the recently updated Home – Smart Home Automation app from Mattias Hochgatterer.

These apps work, and in some cases do things better than the stock Home app, but it’s difficult to compete with the level of native integration baked into a stock iOS app. There’s also something to be said for an app that appears on your Home screen by default; not to mention that it’s free.

With the new Home app in iOS 10, it’s super-easy to set up and manage HomeKit-enabled devices. The app features integration with Control Center, 3D Touch quick actions, and as you’d expect from anything HomeKit related, support for Siri. Home app settings are synced via iCloud, so any iCloud-enabled iOS device running iOS 10 — an iPod touch, iPhone, or an iPad — can be used to control your Home.

iOS 10 Home app video walkthrough

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You’ll need at least one HomeKit-enabled product

If you’ve never used a HomeKit product, then there is a slight learning curve associated with setting up devices and controlling them. Many home automation products compatible with HomeKit have their own standalone apps available in the App Store, but the advantage of using the Home app is that you can access and control all of your devices from one centralized location. You might still have to use standalone product apps to facilitate firmware updates or for other one-off situations, but most devices can be controlled solely from the Home app once configured.

The $69.99 Philips Hue Starter kit is a great first HomeKit accessory

Before you can begin using the Home app, you’ll need at least one HomeKit-certified product. Before today, I didn’t own any HomeKit-enabled products, but I went out and bought a Philips Hue Starter Kit for this tutorial. The Philips Hue Starter Kit costs $69.99, and comes with a Hue bridge and two white bulbs.

Philips, as you’re probably aware of, is one of the leaders in the connected home device category, and sells a variety of lighting-related products. If you’re just beginning, the Starter Kit is a great entry-level product that will introduce you to several of the concepts that you’ll need to learn in order to get the most out of HomeKit.

Other HomeKit-enabled accessories you might want to consider

Name Price Image
Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus $89.99
ecobee3 Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat $249.00
August Smart Lock $229.00

The HomeKit hierarchy

There is a basic hierarchy when it comes to using the Home app. Keeping this hierarchy in mind will make it much easier to understand how the app functions.

Home → Rooms → Accessories → (Groups, Scenes & Automation)

To use the Home app, you must have at least one home, one room, and one accessory. Groups, scenes, and automation are optional, but they allow for broader control over your home.

Using the Home app

Once you’ve acquired your first HomeKit device, launch the Home app, and you’ll be greeted with a “Welcome Home” splash screen that explains some of the things that are possible with the Home app. Tap the Get Started button to proceed.

The initial accessory setup process in the Home app is fairly straightforward

By default, you’ll see a new “My Home” screen that allows you to start building your connected home by adding locks, lights, thermostats, etc. You can customize the name of your Home, change its background wallpaper, and much more.

Before you get into customization, however, you should add your first HomeKit-enabled accessory. Tap the Add Accessory button, and the Home app will scan your Home network in an effort to find any HomeKit-enabled devices. Make sure that your iPhone is connected to your local network, and that your HomeKit-enabled device is as well.

Using the 8-digit setup code to get started

In my case, the Philips Hue bridge showed up under the list of available accessories. Once you tap the accessory, you’ll be prompted to enter the 8-digit setup code that appears on the device’s packaging or the accessory itself. The Home app features a handy camera frame that allows you to capture the HomeKit code without needing to manually type it in.

After the HomeKit code is successfully submitted, the Home app will pair with the HomeKit-enabled device. Once the pairing is completed, you’ll be taken to the Add Accessory page to finish up the pairing process.

With some standalone products, there may be a 1:1 relationship between the Home app and the product itself. However, since the Philips Hue includes the Hue bridge along with the lights, there is an extra layer of complexity added to the mix, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

The Add Accessory page allows you to identify the accessory by means of the Identify Accessory button. Tapping this button will cause the Hue bridge’s push-link button to flash as a means of identification. Other HomeKit-enabled products will have different ways to go about identification, but the basic premise remains the same.

You can rename your HomeKit accessories, by tapping in the name box and adding a name of your choice. Along with name customization, you can set a particular location for the accessory. The location (or Room) is designated area of your house. A few location suggestions, such as Bedroom, Dining Room, and Living Room, are provided by default, but users can add their own locations by tapping the Create New button.

You’ll need to rely on Philips’ Hue app to complete the bridge setup

The Include in Favorites option at the bottom of the Add Accessory page lets you designate a device as a preferred accessory. Favorites appear in Control Center and in the Home tab for quick and easy access. Since the Hue bridge isn’t something that we’ll need to interface with on a regular basis, I’m keeping the Include in Favorites switch disabled.

Pairing Philips Hue lights inside the Philips Hue app

In some cases, you’ll need to rely on the manufactures app for initial setup, firmware updates, etc. That’s the case with the Philips Hue Starter Pack. After connecting to the bridge, you’ll need to launch the Philips Hue app to pair the lights with the bridge.

When you launch the Hue app for the first time, it’ll search for the new bridge. Once it’s found, tap the Set up button to proceed with setup. You’ll need to press the push-link button on the Hue bridge in order to connect. Once the bridge connects, tap the Accept button to finish the bridge setup with the Hue app.

You’ll need to use the Hue app to finish the bridge setup and connect to your lights

Now it’s time to pair the lights. On the Light setup page, tap the ‘+’ button in the bottom right-hand corner to add a new light. To find new lights, make sure that the lights are connected to a lamp and powered on. Tap the Search button to begin searching for connected lights.Since I already had three Philips Hue color lights from an old Hue setup, the Light setup page showed a total of five lights.

You can always use the device manufacturer’s app to further customize the experience, but since this post is primarily about setting up and using the stock Home app, that’s all we’ll need to use the Hue app for.

Back to the Home app

Once the lights are paired with the Hue bridge, you can head back to the Home app, where you’ll see each light listed on the Home tab.

All of my Philips Hue lights recognized by the Home app

Customizing the Home tab

Tap the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner of the Home tab to enter edit mode. Here you can rename your home, see available Home Hubs, invite others to control accessories in your home, change home wallpaper, add notes that all shared users can see, and remove the home.

You can edit all sorts of elements that relate to each Home you have configured

If you frequent more than one home featuring HomeKit-enabled devices, you can additional homes by tapping the Add Home button in the upper left-hand corner. This allows you to control HomeKit devices in multiple locations via the Home app.

Adding a new accessory to a home

To add a new accessory to a home, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner while on the Home tab, and then tap Add Accessory. When adding a new accessory, you’ll need to step back through the initial setup process.

You can add a new accessory from the Home tab

Customizing the Rooms tab

Once an accessory is configured, a room is added by default. Like the Home tab, the Rooms tab can be customized, and like homes, multiple rooms can be added. A room should correspond to an actual place in your house or on your property. For example, if I have a Philips Hue light installed in my office, it would be wise for me to create a separate room called Office.

Customizing and creating new rooms is an integral part of the Home app experience

Once on the Rooms tab, tap the List button in the upper left-hand corner to edit the current room. There, you can edit the room name and change room wallpaper. It’s a good idea to take a picture of the room so that it can be quickly identified as you’re swiping through rooms in the Home app.

While most people probably won’t be adding multiple homes, almost everyone will have two or more rooms. To add an additional room, tap the Add Room button in the upper-left hand corner. Once a new room is added, you can swipe between rooms while on the Rooms tab.

Adding a new accessory to a room

To add a new accessory to a room, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner, followed by Add Accessory. From there, it’s just a matter of going back through the initial setup process as covered in the beginning of this tutorial.

You can also add a new accessory from the Rooms tab

Customizing accessories

To get the most out of the Home app, it’s important to organize your accessories in a way that makes sense. In most cases, you’ll want to create separate rooms for each physical room or location on your property that contains a HomeKit-enabled device. You’ll also want to make sure to give your accessory a name that makes it easy to identify.

The Home app lets you customize accessory names, icons, and more

To customize an accessory, long-press on an accessory tile and tap the Details button at the bottom of the screen. From the accessory customization screen, you can choose a new icon, rename your accessory, set its location, include in favorites, and include it in the status page on the main Home tab.

The customize accessory page is also where you can go to Group an accessory with other HomeKit-enabled devices. Once an accessory is grouped, it is treated as a singular device.

Controlling accessories

While the Home app has lots of depth, its most important feature involves directly controlling the HomeKit-enabled accessories that you configure. The Home app features a lot of rich ways to go about controlling accessories in a very intuitive and fun way.

Accessories can be controlled in one or more of the following ways:

  • The Home app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch
  • The Home section of Control Center on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  • 3D Touch Quick Actions on the Home app icon for 3D Touch-enabled devices
  • Siri on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch or Apple TV
  • Automation via the Home app (requires always-on iPad or Apple TV)

…via the Home app

The most basic way to control an accessory is via the Home app itself. For example, if I wanted to toggle a light on or off, a simple tap on an accessory tile will do the job. For more fine-grained control, a long-press on the tile will reveal additional options. In the case of Philips Hue lighting, a long-press will reveal a dimmer interface that allows you to dim or brighten any given light.

Dimming a Philips Hue light

For accessories that support enhanced functionality, you’ll find additional options after long-pressing. For example, with my Hue colored lights, I see a Color button that allows me to customize the color of the Hue lights directly from the Home app interface.

HomeKit accessories can also be controlled via the Apple Watch app on watchOS 3. The Home app comes with an Apple Watch complication, but the complication is just a shortcut to the Home app itself. Still, it might be a good idea to set up a complication or at least add the Home app to the Dock since you’ll experience faster load times by doing so.

…via Control Center

In iOS 10, the Home app has its very own section in Control Center — something that third-party apps can’t claim. You’ll find the Home section by opening Control Center and swiping all the way to the right. There, you’ll find quick access to all of your favorite HomeKit accessories. The big advantage to using the Control Center shortcut is that it can be accessed quickly from anywhere within iOS.

A tap on an accessory tile will let users quickly toggle an accessory on or off without launching the Home app. A long-press on an accessory tile within Control Center provides extended functionality, such as the ability to dim a light or change its color.

Along with accessing favorite accessories established in the Home app, the Home section of Control Center lets users selects favorite scenes. You can toggle between favorite accessories and favorite Scenes by tapping the Scenes/Accessories button in the upper right-hand corner of the Home section of Control Center.

…via 3D Touch Quick Actions

If you have a 3D Touch-enabled device (iPhone 6s or iPhone 7), then you can take advantage of 3D Touch Quick Action shortcuts on the Home app icon. Doing so will lend you quick access to favorite scenes.

…via Siri

Siri is one of the best ways to control HomeKit-enabled devices, because it can be performed from a variety of devices and from anywhere on the interface. Siri control works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and 4th-generation Apple TV.

Using Siri to turn off a light

Just say something like “Turn on my desk light” to control your devices via Siri. You can even get more specific by asking Siri to turn your office light purple or to turn your porch light brightness down to 50%. Siri is, by far, the most flexible way of going about controlling your HomeKit devices, because it is smart enough to recognize individual HomeKit accessories, rooms, and scenes.

Controlling HomeKit devices using the Apple TV and Siri Remote

You can control many HomeKit devices from a 4th-generation Apple TV as well, except for locks. Locks can only be controlled via an iOS device, presumably due to potential security issues.

…via Automation

We’ve yet to touch on Automation in this walkthrough, but this option allows you to automate HomeKit device actions based on specific criteria like location or time. Automation requires a 4th-generation Apple TV, or an iPad running iOS 10 that’s always on and always home. We’ll talk more about Automation near the end of this walkthrough.

Automate your devices by means of specialized criteria


Scenes are custom actions that generally involve two or more HomeKit-enabled devices in your Home. For example, you can create a scene called “Good Night” that turns off all of the interior lights and turns on the porch light. Scenes are different from groups because each accessory in a scene can still be controlled individually, and you can invoke different actions for each device.

How to create a new scene

On the Home or Rooms tab, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner followed by Add Scene. You’ll then be taken to the New Scene page.

Apple includes four suggested scenes to start with:

  • Arrive Home
  • Good Morning
  • Good Night
  • Leave Home

Users can also create their own custom scenes, with a customized icon and name, by tapping Custom at the bottom of the New Scene page. You can also customize any of the canned suggested scenes.

Scenes are a good way to fire off commands to multiple HomeKit accessories simultaneously

Once you arrive at the New Scene page, you can rename the scene, change its icon, and add or remove accessories from a scene. Accessories added to a scene can be further customized for that particular scene.

Once a scene is set up, shortcuts for it appear in various places, such as in Control Center

Apple includes a handy Test This Scene button near the bottom of the scene details for testing how a scene reacts. If you’re happy with the scene that you create, you can choose to Show in Favorites, which is enabled by default. Scenes added to favorites will appear in Control Center, on the Home tab in the Home app, and in the 3D Touch Quick Action popup.

Controlling accessories away from home

You can only interface with HomeKit devices while on your home Wi-Fi network, unless you have a device that acts as an always-on hub. The 4th-generation Apple TV or an iPad running iOS 10 can both work as a hub.

The 4th-generation Apple TV works well as a hub

To use off-network remote access, you’ll need to make sure that your devices are signed in to the same iCloud account. If you desire to use your iPad as a Home Hub, you need to go to Settings → Home on your iPad to ensure that the Home Hub option is enabled. If you’re using an Apple TV as a Home Hub, ensure that you’re signed in with the same iCloud account.

If you don’t own an Apple TV, you can use an iPad as a Home Hub

You can see a list of your Home Hubs by opening the Home app, tapping the Home tab, and tapping the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner. Under the Home Hubs heading, you’ll see a list of available hubs and the current status of each.

Check the status of Home Hubs via the Home app


If you have an eligible Apple TV or iPad established as a Home Hub, you can take advantage of the Home app’s Automation feature to automate accessories based on one of the follow four criteria:

  • My location changes
  • A time of day occurs
  • An accessory is controlled
  • A sensor detects something

To create a new Automated task, tap the Automation tab in the bottom right-hand corner of the Home app, followed by Create new Automation. Select any of the four available automation types on the New Automation page to begin building your automated tasks.

Building an automated task

Once you select your desired automation trigger, you can select the scenes and accessories to automate. You can mix and match scenes with accessories, and further customize those accessories as you build the automated task. Once completed, tap the Done button in the upper right-hand corner, and your automated task will be saved.

Completing the build of an automated task

Using Automation, I made it so that my porch light would turn off at sunrise and on at sunset. I could even change the light’s brightness via the granular brightness controls. Obviously, that’s pretty basic when it comes to automation, but if you have a variety of HomeKit-enabled devices, automation can get significantly more complex.

Inviting others to control your Home

If you have a lot of HomeKit-enabled devices, it goes without saying that you’ll probably want to share access with others in your household. Inviting others to control your home can also be useful for guests, house-sitters, etc.

As long as the person has an iOS device running iOS 10 with an iCloud account, they’ll be able to control designated aspects of your Home using their own device. Of course, people can also use the Apple TV’s Siri Remote to control various areas of the home without needing an invite.

To invite people to control your home from an iOS device, tap the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner of the Home app’s Home tab. Under the People heading, tap the Invite button to open the Add People page. Any family members that are found in your contacts will be instantly displayed for quick access. You can also invite people to control your home by using the To: field at the top of the page.

You can invite others to control the HomeKit accessories in your home

Once you have all of the people who you wish to invite added, tap the Send Invite button in the upper right-hand corner to send the invitation. Invited users will receive a push notification alerting them about the invitation.

Invited users will need to accept the invitation

Once an invitation is accepted, the “Invitation Pending” text below the invited user will disappear, and they’ll gain access to accessories in the Home.

By tapping on an invited person’s avatar, you can manage users permissions. User permissions consist of the ability to access the home from a remote location (off network) and to allow editing (adding or removing accessories, scenes, and other people.)

You can easily revoke invites by tapping the Remove Person button at the bottom of the individual people pages.


HomeKit has been around for several years now, but I feel like iOS 10 is its first mainstream introduction. Because Apple is placing HomeKit front and center with the new stock Home app, and because there is a nice assortment of HomeKit devices now available, it’s the perfect time to get started with home automation.

The Home app, while not the most intuitive app that Apple has made, is a really good app and handles most of the basic home automation needs. The app has room to grow with regard to it being an end-to-end buck-stops-here solution for HomeKit enabled devices, but it’s a wonderful start. I don’t like the fact that I had to bounce between two apps during the initial setup process of my Philips Hue Starter Kit, but once the initial configuration was finished, the Home app was able to meet nearly all of my needs.

Your experience with the Home app will largely depend on the types of HomeKit devices you use, but it seems as if Apple is serious about making the Home app, and thus HomeKit in general, a significant part of iOS 10.

Other iOS 10 how-to guides:

  • How to use the Messages app in iOS 10

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Apple wants to make it easier for smart accessories – like Philips Hue lights, Wink lights, and other smart speakers, thermostats, detectors, plugs, blinds, locks, sensors and so on – to communicate with each other.

HomeKit-enabled smart accessories are secure, easy to use, and work with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. Any manufacturer can implement HomeKit into their smart accessories.

You can use the Home app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to set up all your HomeKit-enabled smart accessories, and then you can use Siri to ultimately control them via voice commands.

It’s worth pointing out that while HomeKit itself isn’t compatible with smarthome ecosystems like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Works with Nest, the individual devices might work with several.

This guide will help you easily connect and manage all the smart accessories in your home. We’ll tell you how to get started with HomeKit, and how all the devices work together. Here’s everything you need to know.


What is HomeKit and how does it work?

So, you’re probably wondering to yourself: I’ve long owned smart lights and controlled them with their own separate iOS apps, so why is HomeKit necessary now? Well, imagine that you also own smart blinds.

Without HomeKit, your smart lights can’t communicate with your smart blinds, meaning you can’t hook them up together, control them with a single interface, or set them to perform actions together.

Imagine being able to make your lights automatically to turn off while simultaneously making your window blinds close at 9pm every night.

Until HomeKit and the Home app, you had to manually control each accessory with their own separate apps, and you’d have to set every one to do a specific task at a certain time in order to give the appearance that they worked together. That’s all rather tedious, right?

HomeKit-enabled smart accessories, however, can speak to each other, and best of all, you can control them using voice commands through Siri.

You can use Siri on your iPhone (say things like, “Turn on the lights in the garage” or “Good morning”) to trigger a bunch of actions. You can make your smart accessories turn on and do their thing. For instance, maybe your coffee can brew while your doors unlock.

Every HomeKit-enabled smart accessory automatically works with Siri once you set it up through its HomeKit-enabled app.

Siri is just the unified interface you use to bark voice commands to the smart accessories. You still need to use their separate apps, which every smart accessory has, to gain full access to settings, touch controls, and more.

Now, the last thing you need to know about HomeKit is that it can enforce end-to-end encryption between all smart accessories and your Apple devices. That means hackers can’t steal your data, work their way into your communications, or take control of your home.


How can you tell if something is HomeKit compatible?

Manufacturers can add support for HomeKit into their smart accessories, but they need to get their smart accessories approved by Apple in order to make them HomeKit compatible.

HomeKit-enabled smart accessories are marked with a “Works with Apple HomeKit” badge on their product packaging. If you own a smart accessory without that, it won’t work with HomeKit.

Which Apple devices work with HomeKit?

The following Apple devices work with HomeKit:

  • Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (running run iOS 10 or later)
  • Apple Watch (running WatchOS 3 or later)
  • Apple TV (fourth generation)
  • Apple HomePod
  • Macs with macOS 10.14 Mojave or later


What is the Home app and how does it work?

Apple launched its Home app in 2016 and it’s available for iOS as well as Macs running macOS 10.14 Mojave or later. It serves as a centralised hub for managing Apple HomeKit-enabled accessories. These are devices that have been specifically certified by Apple.

Many HomeKit-enabled smart accessories have their own separate apps, but the advantage of using the Home app is that you can access and control all of them from one centralised location.

With the new Home app, it’s now easy to set up and manage all your HomeKit-enabled smart accessories. The app features integration with Control Center, 3D Touch quick actions, and of course, support for Siri.

The app’s settings are also synced through Apple’s iCloud storage service, so any iCloud-enabled Apple device – whether that be an iPhone or iPad – can be used to control your Home.

Get started with the Home app

There is a pecking order when it comes to using the Home app, which is essential to understanding how the app functions: Home > Rooms > Accessories > (Groups, Scenes, and Automation). That last bit – groups, scenes, and automation – is optional, but we’ll get into that later. Once you launch the Home app, and you’ll be greeted with a “Welcome Home” screen that explains the Home app.

Tap the Get Started button to proceed. The initial smart accessory setup process in the Home app is easy to follow. By default you’ll see a new “My Home” screen, which allows you to start adding locks, lights, thermostats, etc. You can change the name of your Home, change the background wallpaper, and more. Also, notice that the Home app has three main tabs: Home, Rooms, and Automation.

But before we get into all that, add your first accessory.

Add an accessory in Home app

Tap the Add Accessory button. The Home app will then scan your Home network to find any HomeKit-enabled smart accessory. For this step to work, both your Apple device and your HomeKit-enabled device need to be connected to the same local network (like your home Wi-Fi). If you have the Philips Hue Starter kit, you will see the Philips Hue bridge appear under the list of available accessories.

Tap the accessory, and then you’ll be asked to enter an 8-digit setup code that’s either on the accessory or its packaging. The Home app will show a camera frame so that you can capture the HomeKit code without having to manually enter in the code.

Once done, the Home app will pair with the HomeKit-enabled smart accessory and reroute you to the Add Accessory screen to complete the pairing process.

To rename your accessories, tap in the name box and adjust it. You can set a location for the accessory; Bedroom, Dining Room, and Living Room, are provided by default.

To create your own location, tap the Create New button. You can also use the Include in Favourites option at the bottom of the Add Accessory screen to pin your accessory to the Control Center in iOS 10 and Home tab in the Home app.

Using an accessory’s separate app

It’s important to note that some smart accessories need you to use their own separate apps for initial setup, software updates and so on.

Editing your devices in the Home app

In the Home app you should see your paired accessories listed on the Home tab. From here, you can also customise the Home tab.

Just tap the Compass button in the corner, and then you can rename your home, see available Home Hubs, invite others to control your accessories, change home wallpaper, add notes for shared users, and so much more.

This is the screen you should go to when you want to edit anything related to each Home you have configured. You can additional homes by tapping the Add Home button in the corner.

To add a new accessory to a home, tap the ‘+’ button in the corner while on the Home tab, and then tap Add Accessory. Of course, when adding a new accessory, you’ll be thrown back into the initial setup process we covered.

Rooms in the Home app

Once you’ve added and configured an accessory, the Home app adds a room by default. The Rooms tab can be adjusted to include multiple rooms. We recommend using rooms that reflect the actual rooms in your home. So, if you have a Philips Hue light in your living room, create a room called Living Room. Just tap the List button in the corner to edit the room, change its name or room wallpaper, etc.

You can take a picture of the room, for instance, and add it as your room wallpaper. Now, to add an additional room, tap the Add Room button in the corner of the Rooms tab. Once you’ve added all your rooms, you can swipe between them on the Rooms tab. To add a new accessory to a room, tap the + button in the corner, then tap Add Accessory, and you’ll be thrown into that initial setup process again.

Automation tab in the Home app

The Automation tab enables you to automate accessory actions based on triggers like location or time. However, it requires a fourth-generation Apple TV, an iPad running iOS 10 or later, or a HomePod. When away from home, either of these can provide remote access and let you take advantage of the Home app’s Automation feature, which automates accessories based on the following triggers:

  • My location changes
  • A time of day occurs
  • An accessory is controlled
  • A sensor detects something

To create a new Automated task, tap the Automation tab in the corner of the Home app, then tap Create new Automation, and select one of the four automation triggers on the New Automation screen. Once you select a trigger, you can select the scenes and accessories to automate. You can play around with scenes to build a truly custom automated task, then tap the Done, and your automated task will be saved.

An example of an automated task would be having your living room lights turn on at sunset. You could have them turn on at a specific brightness level or colour even. The granular controls available to you of course depend on your smart accessory.

Customise and group accessories

Now that you’ve created rooms for each room in your home that contains a HomeKit-enabled smart accessory, you’ll also want to give your accessory a name to make it easier for you to access it. Just long-press on an accessory tile in the Home app, then tap the Details button at the bottom, and from the accessory customisation screen, you can rename it, set its location, include it in favourites, etc.

On this accessory customisation screen, you can also group an accessory with other HomeKit-enabled smart devices. This will make all the devices work together as a singular device. That also means you can control all your grouped smart accessories at once. This is the basics of home automation. However, accessories can be controlled in many different ways, which we explain in more detail below.

Create accessory scenes

But, first: scenes. These are actions that involve two or more accessories. You can create a scene called “Good Morning” that turns on all the lights in a room in the morning. Scenes are different from groups because each can still be controlled individually. You can invoke different actions for each device, so maybe one light will turn on and another will turn off. It all just depends on you and your preferences.

On the Home or Rooms tab, tap the + button in the corner, followed by Add Scene. You’ll then see a New Scene screen. Apple includes four suggested scenes to start with: Arrive Home, Good Morning, Good Night, Leave Home. You can of course create a custom scene, with a custom icon and name. Just tap Custom at the bottom of the New Scene page. You can also customise Apple’s suggested scenes.

Shortcuts to scenes will be available in the Control Center on your iOS device. You can also choose it to Show in Favourites, which is enabled by default. Scenes added to favourites will appear on the Home tab in the Home app and have 3D Touch quick action options.

Control your accessories

You can control a smart accessory through the Home app. So, if you want to turn your Philips Hue light on or off, simply tap on the accessory tile. Or, you can long-press on the tile will reveal additional options, such as a dimmer interface or maybe a colour-changing slider. This is different for every accessory, so it’s important to play around a bit to discover the type of granular controls available.

You can also control accessories through the Apple Watch. The Home app comes with an Apple Watch complication, which is a shortcut to the Home app. You can also add the Home app to your Dock in the Apple Watch. And in iOS 10 on iPhone or iPad, the Home app has its own spot in the Control Center. Just swipe up from your Home Screen to access the Control Center and then swipe all the way to the right.

You will then see all of your favourite HomeKit accessories and can tap on an accessory tile to toggle it on or off without having to launch the Home app. Once again, a long-press on an accessory tile in the Control Center will serve up more options. The Home section of Control Center also lets you select favourite scenes. Just tap the Scenes/Accessories button in the corner of the Home section.

Next, if you have a 3D Touch-enabled device, such as an iPhone 7, you can use 3D Touch quick action shortcuts on the Home app icon to quickly access favourite scenes. And, finally, you can control HomeKit accessories with Siri voice commands. Siri control works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, fourth-generation Apple TV and Siri Remote, and the new HomePod speaker.

Siri control is probably the easiest method. Just say something like “Turn on kitchen light” or “Turn my bedroom light purple” or to “Turn my office light brightness up to 90 per cent.” Siri is smart enough to recognise all your accessories, rooms, and scenes. Just keep in mind you can only control HomeKit devices on your home Wi-Fi network, unless you have a hub like an Apple TV or iPad.

To use off-network remote access, make sure your devices are logged into the same iCloud account. You can see a list of your Home Hubs by opening the Home app, tapping the Home tab, and tapping the Compass button in the corner.

Invite others to control your home

You can share access to your automated home and its accessories with anyone who has an iOS 10 device with an iCloud account. To invite people to control your home, tap the Compass button in the corner of the Home app’s Home tab. The,n under the People heading, tap the Invite button to open the Add People screen. You can find people in your contacts or by using the “To:” field at the top of the screen.

Be sure to tap the Send Invite button to send the invitation. Invited users will receive a push notification about the invitation. They will need to accept the invitation to gain access to the accessories your home Home. Just tap on any invited person’s avatar to manage their permissions. You can also revoke invites by tapping the Remove Person button at the bottom of a person’s screen. Easy.


When you add devices to your smarthome, you usually have to download and use additional apps, which is frustrating and confusing. You can avoid all that—and you don’t need a hub to do it. You just need one app.

The Key to Smarthome Bliss: A Single App

Are the lights in this room controlled by Alexa, Google, Philips, Smart Life, or Magic Home?

Other than voice, the best to way to control your smarthome is through a single app. This is especially true if multiple family members interact with your smarthome. If everyone is always second-guessing which app controls the living room lights and which controls the smart plugs, you might be tempted to give up in frustration.

It’s even worse when you have to change infrequently used options, like routines, timers, or scenes. If you can’t remember which app locks the door every day, you have to dig through all of them one by one.

If, however, you control every function of all your smarthome devices through a single app, you can eliminate all (or most) of the confusion. After it’s correctly set up, you’ll only need the other apps for firmware updates and, occasionally, some additional features.

You Have Options for Which App to Use

These devices come from four different sources.

The average smarthome might not need incredibly complex routines, in which case either Google Home or Alexa will work well as your single app. The bonus here is all your smartphone, tablet, and voice controls are all in one place.

You do have to make sure all your devices support your voice assistant of choice. That list is growing all the time, though. If you already own Google Home or Alexa speakers, definitely consider whether any smarthome gadget you buy is compatible with them.

If you’re an Apple fan, you can use HomeKit and the Home app. But just like Google Home and Alexa, you need to make sure all your devices have HomeKit support. HomeKit has some distinct advantages (like Apple Watch support) and, depending on your hardware, more local control. This means some of your commands will process more quickly than they would with Alexa or Google Home.

If you own a smarthub, like SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Hubitat, or HomeSeer, they also have apps with dashboards to control your devices. You might not be able to control all features (like routines) in the app, though. Also, many Wi-Fi devices created for Alexa and Google Home aren’t compatible with hubs.

Hubs don’t offer native voice control either, so you still have to pair everything to your Google Home or Alexa app if you want that. However, smarthubs generally provide more powerful automation than voice assistants do.

How to Set It Up

Unfortunately, “single app control” doesn’t mean “single app install.” To get started, you still have to install the app associated with your new smarthome device. You use that to set up the device and get it working. Then, you connect it to your single-app solution, whether that’s Google Home, Alexa, or HomeKit.

For Google Home, open the Home app, tap the add button, tap “Set Up Device,” and then tap the “Works with Google” option. The Google Home app presents you with a list of manufacturers. Find the right one and follow the linking process.

The process for Alexa is similar. Open the Alexa app, tap the hamburger menu in the top left, and then tap “Add Device.” Pick the category of the smart device—for example, “Light” or “Plug.” Select its manufacturer and follow the prompts to link your accounts.

HomeKit features the most intuitive process to add a device. Tap “Add Accessory,” and then use your iPhone or iPad’s camera to scan the QR code on the device’s box. Follow the prompts to name the device and add it to a room.


Every smarthub has a different method to add devices. The process can also vary depending on the type of device it is (Z-wave, Zigbee, light bulb, light switch, etc.). You can check the website for your smarthub to see the current method to add a device.

You can also set up sharing for your family members, so everyone has single-app access. In the Google Home app, tap “Add,” and then choose “Invite a Home Member.” For Alexa, you log in on Amazon’s and add members to your Alexa Household. In Apple’s Home app, tap the Home icon in the upper left-hand corner. Tap “Home Settings,” and then tap the Home (you most likely only have the one) to which you want to invite someone. Under the people section, tap “Invite” and follow the prompts.

You Still Have to Use the Original App (Sometimes)

Despite the single-app goal, you shouldn’t uninstall the original app for your smart devices. You’ll still need to use them sometimes. For example, Alexa and Google can’t upgrade firmware for your smart plugs, so you have to do that through the original app.

Sometimes, you also miss out on a few features when you go through a different app. For instance, the Philips Hue app offers more color choices for your light bulbs than the Google Home app. In that particular case, it might be helpful to create a scene in the Philips Hue app (there might be similar options for other devices in their specific apps).

Google Home, Alexa, and HomeKit all offer some amount of scene support, depending on the device, which lets you stay in your single app more often. For more fine-tuned control, though, you still need the original app.

Still, if you can control at least 90 percent of your devices, routines, timers, etc. in a single app, you’ll spend a lot less time trying to figure out which app to use. And you and the rest of your family will be thankful you put in the effort.

Home Automation Apps Are Gaining Momentum in 2019

In 2019, home automation apps are going to take a sharp turn straight into the future. All automation technology will get better at the jobs they already do and predicting what needs to happen next. Automation will eventually take the globe by storm, and 2019 is going to be a defining moment for the new era. With 5G also just around the bend, we’ll even start seeing self-driving cars as an everyday norm.
In the realm of household technology, however, we already have the means to make almost everything automated. From creating shopping lists to regulating room temperatures to choosing what new show to watch, technology already has your back. The prediction is that the automation will not only get better but will also completely change the way we live. Wearable technology and voice commands are only the tip of the iceberg with 2019’s momentum.

Google vs. Amazon

A rather large part of automation happening in the home comes down to voice recognition software. Already, we can verbally ask our devices to play a particular song, walk us through a recipe we haven’t tried or even buy things. Some have gone a step further to double as fire detectors or speaker systems. Whatever people are using them for, two big-name companies are on the vanguard of the entire market: Google and Amazon.
Google Home and Amazon Alexa are both devices that’ll get you more or less the same results, just from competing companies with different marketing techniques and prices. Because they’re so competitive, their advertising game has to be on point almost all the time. For instance, Google didn’t make an official announcement for its virtual assistant but instead put ads for the technology all over Las Vegas to get the word out.
The point is that the choice for voice recognition software in your home will almost always boil down to these two massive companies. If they’re already the leaders in this market, we can assume they’ll continue on this same track for years to come until one beats out the other eventually. For now, this decision may come down to the tech you already own and what you want from it in the coming year.

Artificial Intelligence

Talking about artificial intelligence (AI) in this context is probably not what everyone expected. However, AI is going to be a massive asset to automation technologies as we move along. After all, to be fully automated, AI tech needs to think on its feet. We’re not talking about automated machinery in a warehouse, though, even if that’s an interesting topic. The automation in your home may not seem to need an AI presence now, but the future is going to be a little more streamlined.
As of right now, for the technology in your home to work, you need to say what you want, whether by verbally asking or pressing a button or something else. In the not-too-distant future, these apps and smart hubs are going to predict behavior and interact accordingly without commands to do so. In other words, if you always ask your hub to play music when you get in from work, you’ll soon find the music playing for you as soon as you walk in the door.
There are a few messy concerns about AI, not least of which is privacy. If your Alexa knows what time you like listening to music, it’s logical to wonder what else your digital assistant or other devices may know about you. Collecting data from people is not a new trick, but expecting these companies to protect your more sensitive information may be more trust than some people are willing to give. However, many users have given their home hubs their credit card numbers to make purchases easier, so the price of convenience may not be so steep after all.

The Rise of 5G

Faster internet service is coming our way. Perhaps 5G won’t happen in 2019, as there’s a lot of work left to do — especially to infrastructure — but it’s undeniably on the way. If the new speeds don’t present themselves in 2019, the year will be dedicated to upgrading everything for 2020. However, we all know how fast 4G is, and some of us are wondering if the boost of 5G is worth all this fuss. The short answer is an absolute yes.
5G technology will give us or a 25GB game in five minutes. The perks will benefit those of us who like media and aren’t patient, so pulling things up on any device almost instantly is a plus. However, 5G is critical for self-driving vehicles and is one of the major reasons behind the push for the upgrade. Once 5G is widely available, even the sky won’t be the limit anymore.

Home automation apps to watch For

As 2019 chugs along, there are already some home automation apps to keep a close eye on. The App Store and Google Play have a few apps making a developmental debut in hopes they can change our lives for the better just a little bit at a time. If you’re interested in checking out these home automation apps, here are a few good ones.

1.SmartThings for iOS and Android devices works as a smart appliance hub right on your device. After purchasing the $300 kit for all the necessary sensors, you can control everything in your house from your phone.

2. Savant TrueColor for iOS devices is also a smart appliance hub with no money down. Instead, Savant works from Apple’s operating system to connect to other Apple devices in your home and control them from the hub.

3. WeMo is a device for anyone looking to upgrade to a smart home. You plug it into an outlet, plug any device into the WeMo and it suddenly becomes a smart device you can control from your iPhone or Android device. A single WeMo switch and motion sensor costs about $80.

4. Control4 MyHome and 4Sight is a sort of hub that connects your lighting, security, energy, entertainment and other systems to your Wi-Fi network to control on any device. Uniquely, 4Sight can monitor your home when you’re not there, and this extra bundle only costs $100 a year.

5. Nest is a smart thermostat that costs $250 plus another $120 for installation. Once everything’s set up, you control the temperature in every room of your house free of charge directly from your smart device.

6. Honeywell offers a similar thermostat to Nest and also costs $250. The main difference is looks, as Honeywell can change color to match wallpaper or paint surrounding it. As for the critical stuff, it controls and monitors temperatures while automating patterns you may not realize you have.

7. is an advanced security device that works remotely anywhere you are. Installation costs about $200 with a charge for about $70 a month. It also has a GPS to know where you are so it can start turning on lights and other things when you get near home.

8. Philips Hue allows you to change the color, tone and contrast of the lighting in your home remotely. The starter kit costs about $200, but you’ll be able to remotely change the lighting of your home whenever you want.

9. ADT Pulse works with ADT to monitor and arm your home. The hardware costs $150 with installation at $350, activation at $50 and a monthly payment of $50. Once everything’s set up, you’ll never have to worry about security again.

10. DirecTV offers a free app to their users on iOS and Android devices. The app uses voice recognition software to control the DVR, allowing you to record or watch whatever you like just by asking aloud.

Home automation apps of 2019

The coming year is going to have a lot of ups and downs, and the rise of technology is almost a given. Home automation apps will sweep the globe faster than ever before. With everyone talking to their devices and going nowhere without their phones, we’re becoming almost dependent on this futuristic ideal.
By the end of 2019, we’re going to wonder how we ever managed without them.

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