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Apple HomeKit is a great hub for all of your smart devices that’s built right in to iOS. Rather than have to control everything from several apps, you have one central location to activate lights, control smart cameras and more.
Once you get a place of your own with a couple of bedrooms, there’s even more options for HomeKit smart devices. Rather than have to make sure you’re not getting anything that won’t come with you when you move (though there are still portable smart items on this list), you can permanently install smart systems that all work with a simple “Hey Siri.”
One of the easiest ways to build a new smart home is with a Philips Hue light kit. The smart bulbs work with HomeLink via the hub. What’s nice about the hub is that it’s a one-time investment. After you have one, you can control up to 50 bulbs. So what can you do with all those smart bulbs? Well, you can set up routines based on the time of day or whether people are home. You can control lights with Siri without having to be anywhere near a switch. You can also use HomeKit (or the Hue app) to tweak your settings and control your system while away from home. You'll find that the question quickly changes from “What can I do?” to “What else can I do?”
You’ll find dozens of scenarios where the Wemo Mini Smart Plug would be helpful. Turn your Christmas tree lights on (or off) when you’re home (or away). Start your coffee maker every morning at a certain time. You can also control a lamp with Siri. Plus, it doesn’t take up much room, so you don’t have to sacrifice two outlets just to make one of them smart.
Rachio takes the guesswork out of keeping a healthy lawn. The Rachio sprinkler controller is minimalist, attractive and eminently practical if you have some grass around your home. Think “Nest, but for lawns” and you’re on the right track. The real magic of the system is in the app. There are no timers or places to make schedules on the hardware itself. You can run the system manually from the controller, but you’d be missing the point if that’s all you did. Once Rachio is online, it gathers real-time hyper-local weather data for your residence. After you tell it about the zones that it’s going to be watering (the device I tested can control up to 16 zones), it determines how often it needs to water, taking scheduling out of your hands altogether.
The latest ecobee Smart Thermostat might be a full-fledged Alexa device, but it also integrates nicely with Apple HomeKit. In addition to voice control, you can use the app, HomeKit, or the user-friendly touchscreen to set your target temperatures for each time of day. It may not learn your schedule, like the Nest, but integrating it with HomeKit gives it plenty of added awareness. Apple will use the remote sensors (redesigned for this release) to keep track of temperatures and occupancy throughout your house. When you aren’t around, ecobee will switch to Away mode so that it’s not running your system while you’re away.
One of my favorite tricks in a HomeKit home is to have the front-door smart lock be part of the system. That way, the HomeKit knows when someone has arrived or left, and can adjust the thermostat settings accordingly. The third-generation August lock is a reliable, intelligent deadbolt that senses when you arrive or leave the house, unlocking without you having to do anything except walk up to your door. You can also control the lock via app and, with the Connect hub (included in this package), you can use Siri to activate it as well. Don’t worry, you can’t unlock the door with your voice unless you also know the passcode.
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I’ve been writing about technology, gadgets, and pop culture back before Apple had even thought of the iPhone. I’ve seen the rise and fall (and rise again) of Apple. I'
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