How to create a status light for smart locks & sensors


HomeKit Automation #003: Create a status light for smart locks & sensors

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In our third entry to our HomeKit automation series, we explore a simple way to create a door lock status light. While the status light could represent many things, I use it as a way to be sure all my doors are closed and locked.

If you prefer to watch, rather than read, check our tutorial in video form.



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Now let’s go ahead and move on and look at this week’s challenge and tutorial.

The goal

I came up with this after a frequent question from my girlfriend. “Did you lock the door?” is something I would hear on a nightly basis. I would assure her I did, or on other occasions, I would ask Siri to confirm this for me. Both of these are totally adequate solutions, but I was looking for a way to appease her worry without having to be the one to answer.

I found an elegant solution, that works reliably, and lets me know that all my doors/windows are closed, and that the door is locked.

So let’s go jump in and take a look how.

How to create a smart lock status light

The general solution here is to use a nightlight as the status monitor, with a few well-crafted automation rules.

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To follow along at home, you need the Home app, a HomeKit lock, and (preferably) an iDevices accessory.

Note: You don’t need an iDevices accessory necessarily, but they all come with a small “nightlight” on their accessories that can be controlled via HomeKit. If you don’t have an iDevices outlet or wall switch, you really could use any HomeKit light in its place.

Once you’ve got your HomeKit lock and a light to use for the status, we can get to the automation.

1) Open the Home app and choose the Automation tab.

2) Tap the + button in the top right-hand corner.

3) Choose “An Accessory is Controlled” as the type of new automation.

4) The first step is to choose the accessory that will trigger the status light. In our situation, that means we want to choose our door lock.

5) The second step is to choose what the action is. We will need to set this up twice, once for locking, and once for unlocking. In the first round, we will choose Locks, any Time, with People turned off.

6) Now find your light that we will control, in my case my iDevices nightlight.

7) The last step before saving the automation is to choose the brightness and color of the light. For me, I want it to turn red and be at 10% whenever the door locks. Then tap Done.

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8) Repeat these steps as above, but instead of Locks choose Unlocks, and instead of red make the color green or whichever color you’d like to use for unlocked.

You’re now all set up! In my setup, whenever the Dining Room Front Door (which happens to be my front door) locks, the nightlight in my bedroom changes to red at 10 percent brightness. If it unlocks, it goes to green at 10 percent brightness.

Here is what that automation looks like, but be aware, the summary screen doesn’t show you the color of the nightlight.

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Additional notes

This is a fairly basic example of a status light, and if you wanted to get even more complicated, you could use a series of conditional statements to make it immensely more inclusive.

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As an example, if you have HomeKit sensors on your windows, you could have them change the status light to green when they are opened, and turn to red, when they close with a conditional based on the door also being locked.

You would then have to update your door automation to only turn red if the windows are also closed.

You can see how this can easily become complicated, but still effective.

Wrap up

Creating a status light is something that was born out of a need in our home. People like feeling secure, and til now, there is not much in the form of HomeKit security systems. You are more or less relegated to setting up your own system yourself.

Hopefully, in the future, you could take the “security system” further by making a speaker play an audio track to let you know if a door or window is opened after a certain time, assuming that speaker supported AirPlay 2.

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Did you give this HomeKit tip a try?

Let me know how it went, or any modifications you made, down in the comments!

Feature Request: How HomeKit could improve with CarPlay


Feature Request: How HomeKit could improve with CarPlay

CarPlay isn’t expected to gain any major features this year according to recent reporting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. One simple change I would love to see in some future update is support for HomeKit alerts through CarPlay. Going a step further, a dedicated Home app for CarPlay with a few key features could be very beneficial.

CarPlay prevents most alerts from reaching your car so you don’t get distracted by a new email or tweet while driving, but that filter can sometimes catch useful alerts too.

For example, if you create an automation in HomeKit to automatically open your garage door or unlock your front door when you arrive home, the Home app requires confirming through an alert. Requiring confirmation on your iPhone prevents you from accidentally opening your garage or unlocking your front door when you’re near your house but not going inside, but that alert does not come through CarPlay.

Apple doesn’t actually have to make a Home app for CarPlay for alerts to come through either. Clock alarms and alerts from Reminders and Calendar are examples of apps that can send alerts through CarPlay without offering CarPlay versions of their iPhone apps.

For example, my wife’s work appointment for a somehow mandatory staff meeting on our shared calendar came through CarPlay while I was driving this morning:

The current alternative to interacting with the iPhone is to use Siri each time you arrive home which is certainly convenient but not as efficient or proactive. Having an actionable alert that you tap to confirm would be way easier.

Here’s how the system looks now:

And here’s how it could look (ignore my poor Pixelmator skills):

Battery icon appears when using Wireless CarPlay

Going a step further, CarPlay could benefit from a dedicated Home app that launches to reveal favorited scenes (groups of smart accessory actions) like “I’m Home” and “I’m Leaving” so commonly used commands are a tap away.

HomeKit control through CarPlay is easily accessible through Siri today, but adding an on-screen interface optimized like the other CarPlay apps could prove very useful for drivers.

Additional apps like Waze would also be welcome, but supporting a third-party map sounds a lot less likely than one of Apple’s own apps joining the scene.

For more on CarPlay:


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How to create a smart home in a smart way


How to create a smart home in a smart way

Those of you who’ve been following my Smart Home Diary series will know that I’ve learned a number of lessons – some of them the hard way. But I thought it would be useful to distill these into a single piece offering my best advice for anyone planning to create a smart home from scratch today.

And that advice begins with considering whether or not creating a smart home is a smart choice for you …

Think about cost

Smart home tech isn’t cheap. Not only that, but costs have a sneaky way of adding up over time. You start with a bulb or two, and a year later you’re well into four figures.

There are two financial aspects I think worth considering at the outset:

  • Available budget
  • How much home automation is worth to you

If, realistically, the amount you can invest in smart home tech is very limited, then it’s particularly important to spend your money on the right things – the things that will make the biggest difference to your life.

But, ironically, it can be even more important to think about budget if you have more disposable income to play with – because there’s almost no limit to what you can do if you throw enough money at it. Which is where the second question becomes important. How much difference will a smart home make to your life?

Is waking up in the morning, saying ‘Hey Siri, Morning’ and seeing your home spring to life something that will bring you a frisson of pleasure each time you do it? Do you take the view that anything that can be automated should be automated? Do you love the thought that simply tapping a button on your iPhone when you go to bed saves you the trouble of wandering around your home switching off lights, closing blinds and ensuring the heating is off? If so, you can justify a significant spend, because it’s something from which you’ll get substantial value.

But if you think smart home tech is kind of neat but not that big a deal, you could end up investing a lot of cash in something that will make little lasting difference to your life, especially once the novelty has worn off. That money might be put to better use elsewhere.

Think too about time, effort and reliability

Take it from me: configuring and trouble-shooting a smart home is something that takes a significant amount of both time and effort. There will be swearing involved.

Smart home tech is still something I’d consider bleeding-edge technology. Neither set up nor reliability is at a level I’d yet say is ready for mass-market consumers. If you’re not willing to do battle with Wi-Fi connectivity, delay your plans to go to bed to work out why one of your blinds isn’t responding or find the ideal positioning for a motion sensor via an awful lot of trial-and-error, then you may want to wait a while.

HomeKit has gone a long way toward making things ready for prime-time, but Just Works is still some way off.

How patient are you?

The somewhat flakey reliability of smart home devices means you also need to ask yourself how patient you are in the face of things that don’t work as they should.

You will see devices report that they are unavailable. You will see things that show themselves as constantly updating and therefore unresponsive. You will find that one of the seven lights that should have turned off is still stubbornly on for no apparent reason. You will find there are times when you lose full control of something until you update its firmware.

If you are someone who will simply roll your eyes and get on with it, no problem. If, however, a piece of misbehaving technology turns you into an incandescent ball of concentrated fury, maybe now isn’t quite the right time to create a smart home.

Family considerations

Even if you’re the greatest technology fan in the world, and can think of nothing more interesting than the challenge of figuring out why your living-room lights don’t turn on when they should, you also need to consider the attitude of your partner and any kids or other household members.

If you have any technophobes in the home, they’re unlikely to be amused by swapping simple light switches for a Siri-controlled world that relies on you remembering the name of a particular light.

But even reasonably tech-savvy people may not share your enthusiasm for automating everything in sight. For example, my partner is more tech-aware than the average mass-market consumer out there, and she’s also reasonably embedded in the Apple world, with a Mac, an iPad and an iPhone. But she still wasn’t happy about having to use an iPhone to switch on lights.

That doesn’t mean you have to rein-in your plans, but you may have to adapt them. In our case, we added a bunch of Hue Dimmer Switches to the walls so that Steph had the option of using physical switches – even if they were Wi-Fi ones. That adds cost as well as effort.

Start by dipping a toe into the water

Ok, so you’ve decided you love gadgets and you can afford them; you’re willing to put in the work; you have a laid-back attitude to uncooperative technology; and your family is on-board. Even with all this in place, I’d still recommend dipping a toe into the smart home water first.

Take a look around at what’s out there, and see what has greatest appeal to you – but for most people, I’d say that a Philips Hue Starter Kit is going to be a good entry into the smart home world. For under $200, you’ll get either two or three bulbs (depending on which version you opt for) and the bridge that makes them HomeKit-compatible.

With this, you’ll get the experience of all the key aspects of configuring and using smart home tech:

  • Setting up a bridge (needed for many HomeKit devices)
  • Adding a device to its app
  • Setting up one or more rooms in the Home app
  • Controlling devices using the Home app
  • Controlling devices via Siri

By the time you’ve done this, you’ll have a good sense of the amount of effort involved, and the benefit you see from using it.

Buy the right thing once

Whether you take my advice to start small, or jump in with both feet, the age-old advice to buy the right thing once applies. Don’t buy something cheap that you’ll want to replace further down the line, as that only ends up costing more in the long run.

Personally, I’d recommend sticking to major brands, for several reasons:

  • They are likely to work reliably (for smart home values of ‘reliably’)
  • The company is likely to stand by their products if they fail
  • They are likely to be around for a long time

Which includes HomeKit compatibility

HomeKit support makes such a big difference to usability that I’d say you want to almost view this as a must-have.

For example, if your lights, blinds and heating are all HomeKit-compatible, then a single Siri command or button tap like ‘Goodnight, home’ can take care of everything that needs to be done before going to bed. For non-HomeKit devices, you can’t use Siri, and you’ll have to go into each individual app in turn to control their respective devices.

I say ‘almost’ as you may find you have to make some exceptions – especially outside the USA, where compatible devices aren’t always available. And sometimes the price difference between the same thing with and without HomeKit support can be dramatic.

For example, our heating system uses electric radiators, which can’t be controlled by the Tado system we had before. There aren’t any HomeKit-compatible ones, but it’s really not a big deal because – for the most part – they operate on timers.

With blinds, we took a bit of chance, opting for ones that are iPhone-controlled but not yet HomeKit compatible – with later support promised. Since the company’s app already supports Scenes (one-button ways to set the positions of multiple blinds), then we’re reasonably confident that it is all set for HomeKit – and in the worst of cases, it’s not a massive convenience to tap two buttons rather than one in morning and evening. The reason we did that? HomeKit-compatible ones were literally twice the price.

Smart switches are likely to be cheaper than smart bulbs

Depending on how many lights you have in your home, and how they are configured, it will generally work out cheaper to replace dumb switches with smart ones than to replace dumb bulbs with smart ones.

For example, if you have a living-room switch that controls four lights, each with two bulbs, a single switch might cost you $50 rather than spending $200 or more on eight bulbs.

In the USA, there are quite a few brands to choose from now – but always check HomeKit compatibility for the specific switches.

However …

For light bulbs, consider color ones

Smart bulbs can do more than smart switches. For example, smart bulbs may allow you to select their color temperature, switching between bright white lighting when concentrating on something and a softer, yellower light when relaxing. They will also typically offer dimming – which smart switches do too, but don’t work with all bulb types.

However, the biggest benefit you get from opting for smart bulbs rather than smart switches is the option of color.

Attitudes to color bulbs vary. Some people are dismissive, seeing them as gimmicks that belong in nightclubs rather than homes. But many of us have come to love them.

For example, we often set the living-room floor lamps to blue or purple to provide enough light to see by without spoiling the view from the windows with bright reflections. In the bedroom, it’s nice to have the option of a warm and relaxing yellow-orange light.

The Philips Hue starter kit I recommended earlier gets you color bulbs, so you can then see how you get on with them and whether the added cost of color is worth it to you.

Philips Hue Light Strips are worth a special mention

I’m trying to keep the piece as general as possible, but I think Philips Hue Light Strips are worth a special mention, as they are so versatile.

These are long multi-color LED strips designed to provide mood lighting. You can use them for under-cabinet lighting in a kitchen, for example, setting them to white when you are cooking and a color when you just want accent lighting.

Other common uses are for TV consoles, desks and bookshelves. We even use them as wardrobe lights as a single strip provides both overhead and side lighting.

Smart plug sockets are another option

If you have floor or table lamps, another way to convert them to smart devices is to use a smart plug socket. Leave the lamp switched on, and then control the socket instead.

Elgato Eve Energy is the market leader here, and the app also monitors energy usage and costs into the bargain.

Smart thermostats save money as well as adding convenience

If you have a central heating system, a smart thermostat can be a great buy. Presence-detection means that when the system sees there is nobody home, it automatically turns down the heating to save money. With the Tado system I had before, for example, it reduced the heating bills by around 7%.

Nest, Tado and Ecobee are three big names here. This is one category where I’d say HomeKit compatibility is less important as mostly you’ll leave it to its own devices.

However, these probably only make sense if you’re staying put for a while. The payback time on a system saving 7% a year, for example, will be a number of years.

Smart locks are super-convenient but …

Walking up to your front door with your hands full and having the door automatically unlock when you approach it is undeniably convenient. Smart locks work by detecting your iPhone or Apple Watch via Bluetooth.

They also allow you to do things like allow timed access to specific individuals. For example, if your cleaner visits weekly on a Friday afternoon, the lock can be set to allow them in only between 1pm and 2pm on Fridays.

And if a friend is coming to stay and gets there before you do, you can grant them one-off access via a temporary code.

However, you do need to think about security. Even with HomeKit, which is designed to offer a very high level of security, there can be vulnerabilities – like the one we reported to Apple. You may consider smart locks to be one step too far.

Smart cameras too

The same applies to smart cameras. If you have young kids, for example, these can provide a great way to keep an eye on them wherever you are.

Cameras can also be set to send alerts when they detect motion, and some even have face-recognition so that they don’t bother alerting you to familiar faces.

Again, though, you have to be aware of the potential privacy risks of a camera feed that’s accessible via the Internet.

Smart speakers make a convenient interface

Finally, a smart speaker provides a really convenient way to control smart home technology. With this, you don’t need to have your iPhone or Watch with you as you wander around your home.

If everything you have is HomeKit-compatible, then a HomePod can control everything – but the cost only makes sense if you’re also looking for a decent speaker. Otherwise, an Amazon Echo Dot is a really low-cost device that will control most smart home devices – and is cheap enough that you could sprinkle a few around your home.

In summary …

Overall, then, my advice is this:

  • Think about whether smart home tech makes sense for you, your budget and your family
  • Dip a toe in the water first
  • Adopt a ‘buy the right thing once’ approach
  • Buy HomeKit-compatible devices wherever possible
  • Think about whether smart switches or bulbs make most sense for you
  • If bulbs, try color ones to see whether they add value
  • A smart thermostat likely makes financial sense if you have no plans to move
  • Think about the potential security risks of smart locks and cameras
  • Consider a smart speaker (or three) as a convenient means of control

You can check out my Smart Home Diary pieces for my own experiences, and please add your own tips in the comments.


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9 Common Sense Home Automations You Must Try



https://www.imore.com/common-sense-home-automations-you-must-try

9 Common Sense Home Automations You Must Try

It’s time to take your smart home setup to the next level with these common sense automations!

MIKAH SARGENT

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The Automation tab in iOS’s Home app can seem a bit intimidating at first, but it’s a great way to get more out of your smart accessories. Make them work for you instead of the other way around with these common sense automations!

Now before we get into the thick of things, you’re going to need to know a little bit about automations and how they work in Apple’s HomeKit system. Don’t worry, it’s a simple process that’s mostly pressing a couple buttons and solving some logic puzzles. 🤓 Here’s what you need to know about setting up, removing, and triggering automations! If you’re already experienced in the ways of Smart Home Automation™, you can skip ahead to the automation ideas.

How to set up an automation

  1. Launch the Home app.
  2. Tap the Automation tab (looks like a clock).
  3. Tap Create new Automation.
  4. Choose when you want the automation to occur. For this example, we’re going to choose A Time of Day Occurs.

  5. Dial in your specific time.
  6. Tap Next.
  7. Choose which accessories or scenes you’d like to control with this automation.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Adjust the settings of your chosen accessories to your desire.
  10. Tap Done.

    How to set up an Automation

How to remove an automation

There’s nothing worse than having an automation in place that you no longer want. If you’re tired of that bedroom light turning on every morning at 6 a.m. (hey, we all get a little hopeful from time to time), here’s how you go about shutting off automations:

  1. Launch the Home app.
  2. Tap the Automation tab (looks like a clock).
  3. Tap on one of the automations you’ve set up.
  4. Tap the switch next to Enable This Automation to temporarily disable an automation, then tap Done.

    How to set up an Automation

  5. Tap Delete Automation to remove the automation, then tap it again to confirm.

    How to set up an Automation

Understanding the different automation triggers

There are several different automation triggers you can choose from, so it can get a little overwhelming when you first set ’em up. Here’s what they all mean:

  • My Location Changes: Your automation takes place when you, someone else, or multiple people leave or arrive at a location.
  • A Time of Day Occurs: Your automation takes place at a specific time or at sunrise/sunset.
  • An Accessory is Controlled: Your automation takes place when you or someone else controls another accessory in your home.
  • A Sensor Detects Something: Your automation takes place when a sensor accessory (smoke detector, motion detector detects something).

9 Common Sense Home Automations You Must Try

Automations are a powerful tool for making your smart home work for you, but they can be a little overwhelming at first. It’s like a blank smart home canvas — what the heck do you automate

Home app humidifier automation

1. A sunset-driven humidifier

One automation I’m really happy I set up involves the iDevices switch connected to the humidifier I have in my bedroom. Every day at sunrise (it changes based on when the sun actually rises and sets, not just a static time) the humidifier automatically turns off, and every day at sunset it automatically turns on. That way the humidifier isn’t running while I’m away from my bedroom, but it automatically humidifies as I’m winding down and heading to bed for the night.

2. Turn on the lights as I arrive home from work, only after sunset.

It’s nice to be able to make your way through your home when you’ve arrived home from work. There’s no need to use Siri to trigger your lights or go tapping about in your Home app. If you set up a location-based automation, you can have your HomeKit setup turn on your lights as soon as you arrive home from work. What’s more, you can make it so it only activates if the sun is down.

3. Turn off the lights as I leave the house, only before sunset.

Conserve energy by making sure many of the lights in your house go off when you leave your home. If it’s during the day (i.e. the sun is still out), you can have HomeKit turn off your choice of lights when you leave the GPS bubble you setup in your Home app automation. Again, you can stipulate that this only works while the sun is still up so you don’t end up leaving a roommate or partner in the dark when you go to get some groceries!

4. Turn on the fan every day at 7 p.m.

Like to keep the air from getting stale? I often forget to turn on the fan in any given room I happen to be occupying, but love having a bit of movement in the air. You can keep yourself from having to remember this step by automating it! Turn on the fan in your living room every day at 7 p.m. And don’t forget: There are plenty of times and conditions you can add to this automation to get it just right.

5. Turn on the kitchen lights every morning at 6 a.m.

You probably don’t want to turn on the lights in your bedroom every morning at 6 a.m. … at least not too bright. You can get the coffee brewing and the light turned up to a bright-enough-to-wake-me-up-but-not-bright-enough-to-give-me-a-headache setting so you can get the jolt you need to get going!

6. Turn the office desk lamp blue when the front door lock is used.

This concept is one of my favorite home automations. Using your color-enabled lighting to notify you of different conditions in your HomeKit home is not only helpful, it’s just doggone cool! Say you’re in your office and you’d like to know when the garage door is opened or the front door is unlocked — you can use this type of automation to give you a subtle notification.

7. Turn on the fan in the bedroom when the bedroom lights are turned on.

If you’ve got a fan-light combo running on two different switches, this is a great way to combine the two into one “switch” by automating the turning on and turning off. When you hit the button or flip the switch to turn on the lights, the fan’ll come on. When you hit the button or flip the switch to turn off the lights, the fan’ll turn off. It’s handy!

8. Turn on all the lights at full brightness when the smoke detector detects smoke.

This automation in and of itself could sell just about anyone on a smart home. If you’ve got a HomeKit-enabled smoke or CO detector, you can set up this automation to turn on all the lights in your house at full brightness when things go awry. There’s no sleeping through a smoke detector alarm or CO warning when all the lights in your house are blasting your eyes with their sweet, sweet rays.

9. Turn on my garage lights when the motion sensor detects movement in the garage.

This is one that I’ve got set up in my own home. I found the garage lighting in my home a little lacking so I set up some clamp lights throughout the structure that are all powered by HomeKit-enabled plugs. A motion detector looks for motion and triggers the lights to turn on (you could also use a contact sensor placed on the garage door). The automation is set up to turn off the lights after a certain period in which it no longer detects motion, meaning I don’t have to remember to turn off the lights on my own when I’m done in the garage.

Any ideas?

As you can see, there are loads upon loads of different automations you can set up in the iOS Home app. Do you have any automations you swear by? I’d love to hear about them — shoot me a message on Twitter or leave a comment below!


HomeKit

HomeKit


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Mikah Sargent

Mikah Sargent is Senior Editor at Mobile Nations. When he’s not bothering his chihuahuas, Mikah spends entirely too much time and money on HomeKit products. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikahsargent if you’re so inclined.

How to create your own HomeKit-enabled accessories


How to create your own HomeKit-enabled accessories

Hey Siri, control my HomeKit-enabled coffee maker!

Apple has opened up the HomeKit Accessory Protocol Specification to all developers! What’s the “HomeKit Accessory Protocol Specification”? It’s the means by which connected home accessories communicate with Apple devices via HomeKit. In other words, you can make your own HomeKit-enabled accessories and control them with Siri and the Home app for iOS.

Up until now, only companies who intended to distribute their HomeKit-enabled accessories commercially could make use of Apple’s HomeKit Accessory Protocol Specification. Developers had to request licensing through Apple’s MFi program and go through reportedly rigorous testing to claim the coveted Works with Apple HomeKit badge. Now if you want to create HomeKit-enabled accessories for non-commercial purposes (if you’re a hobbyist or consider yourself a “Maker,” for example) you can! Here’s how you get the ball rolling.

First thing’s first: You’ve got to be a registered developer. You need a registered developer account in order to access the HomeKit Accessory Protocol (referred to as HAP here on out). Assuming you’re a registered developer, here are the first steps to take:

  1. Head to Apple’s developer page for the HAP Specification: https://developer.apple.com//homekit/specification/
  2. When prompted, sign in with your Apple ID and password.
  3. Click Continue to license agreement.
  4. Read the limited license agreement and check the box to confirm you’ve read it.
  5. Click I Agree.
  6. Click Download to download the HAP Specification.

The HAP Specification is a 256-page PDF filled with all the necessary information about creating HomeKit-enabled accessories that can communicate with Apple devices. There are certain requirements your accessory must meet in order to make use of the HomeKit framework, but they aren’t as rigorous as the requirements for commercial HomeKit accessories.

  • Apple says commercial accessories have to have the Apple Authentication Coprocessor, must adhere to the Bluetooth core specification or obtain Wi-Fi Alliance certification, and must be certified under Apple’s MFi Program.
  • Non-commercial HomeKit accessories won’t be able to tout the Works with Apple HomeKit badge. Anyone adding a non-commercial HomeKit accessory to their HomeKit setup will see a prompt indicating it’s not certified to work with HomeKit, but the prompt is nothing more than an alert — you’ll still be able to add the accessory.

Once you’ve read through the HAP Spec and know you can create a device that adheres to all the necessary specifications, it’s time to get crackin’!

Creating your own HomeKit-enabled accessory


HomeKit protocol spec is now open to all devs! Can build a smart device using Arduino and control it via HomeKit without getting MFI license

— Victor Ilyukevich (@yas375)


As Victor Ilyukevich‏ pointed out over on Twitter, that means buying or setting up an accessory using an Arduino and controlling it with Apple HomeKit.

You could, for example, get the Arduino MKR1000 which offers the following features:

  • SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU
  • WINC1500 low power 2.4GHz IEEE® 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • ECC508 CryptoAuthentication

See at Arduino

You could use it to create any number of HomeKit-enabled accessories so long as they follow the HAP Spec. Once you’ve got your idea figured out, your limited license agreement signed, your HAP Spec read, and your Arduino (or other communication accessory) set up, you’ll just want to make sure your device is adhering to the HAP spec and can communicate with Apple HomeKit. Everything you need to know can be found in the HAP Specification, which you can download by following along with these steps.

Thoughts, questions?

What do you think? Excited that anyone can create their own HomeKit-enabled accessories and control them using the Home app for iOS and Siri? I know I am! I’m going to attempt to dive into the HAP Specification and see if I can’t get my own HomeKit-enabled accessory rollin’ (dog treat delivery device, anyone?). I’ll be taking notes along the way so be sure to check back in the future for a potential in-depth how to!

How to connect incompatible accessories to HomeKit using Homebridge | iMore


How to connect incompatible accessories to HomeKit using Homebridge

Wish you could have a house full of HomeKit-enabled products? Homebridge might be able to help with that!

If you’re tired of waiting for your favorite home automation products to get HomeKit support, you might try Homebridge! Homebridge is a NodeJS server that acts as a HomeKit-enabled bridge, linking up non-HomeKit-enabled products to your HomeKit setup. Once you’ve set up a Homebridge server, you can download plugins for non-HomeKit-enabled devices in order to access them with the iOS Home app and control them using your voice with Siri.

We’re going to proceed through the tutorial assuming you want to install Homebridge on your Mac. You can also install Homebridge on Windows, Raspberry Pi, and other devices, but I’ve found the macOS installation process to be fairly straightforward and user-friendly.

Caveats and warnings

Before we dig in to Homebridge, there’s some stuff we need to talk about. Firstly, HomeKit-enabled products are such a small subset of the home automation market for a reason: Apple is very serious about compatibility and security.

HomeKit-enabled products have to go through rounds of testing and adhere to certain security guidelines. The same can’t be said for non-HomeKit-enabled products. Secondly, Homebridge and its accessory plugins are created and maintained by a community of developers — not a company.

If you choose to install Homebridge, proceed with caution and be mindful of what you choose to install on your computer and your devices. Homebridge requires some fussing with code and interaction with Terminal; if you’re uncomfortable with either of those things, it’s best not to proceed with this tutorial.

Lastly, don’t forget to back up your devices; if you mess something up along the way, it’s far easier to roll back changes than having to do a fresh install of macOS.

How to install Homebridge on your Mac

  • The prerequisites
  • Create the NodeJS server
  • Set up the configuration file
  • Understand the configuration file
  • How to install plugins

The prerequisites

  1. Make sure you have Xcode installed on your Mac. It’s free in the Mac App Store — here’s a link to download it.
  2. Download and install Node.js (which comes with the NPM package manager). It’s free — here’s a link to download it.

    Note: Installing Node.js is very straightforward. You’ll install it like any other non-Mac-App-Store application: Download, double click on the file, and follow along with the installation guide.

Create the NodeJS server

Here’s where we’re going to start working with Terminal. You’ll be typing in (or copy-pasting code) to the command line. Follow along step-by-step to properly install Homebridge.

  1. Launch Spotlight by pressing the following keyboard shortcut: Command ⌘ + Space bar.
  2. Start typing in Terminal. When the app appears in Spotlight, you can press Enter.
  3. Once Terminal’s up and running, enter the following to install Homebridge globally:

    sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge

  4. Homebridge will be installed using the NPM package manager. Wait until the process is complete.
  5. Type homebridge into Terminal to launch it.
  6. You should see the following message:

    No plugins found. See the README for information on installing plugins.

    That means you’ve successfully installed Homebridge on your Mac!

  7. Quit Homebridge by pressing the following keyboard shortcut: Control ⌃ + C.

Note: If you have trouble installing Homebridge on your Mac, check out the Homebridge support page or visit the Homebridge Slack to get help from the developers.

Set up the configuration file

Homebridge requires two things to add a new accessory to your HomeKit setup: a plugin (more on those in a bit) and an entry in the Homebridge configuration file. We need to create the configuration file before proceeding.

  1. Open up a Finder window and press the following keyboard shortcut: Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + G to open up the Go to Folder dialog.
  2. Paste the following path into the Go to Folder dialog:

    /usr/local/lib/node_modules/homebridge and press Enter on the keyboard.

  3. Copy the file called config-sample.json to your Desktop.
  4. Open up a Finder window and press the following keyboard shortcut: Shift ⇧ + Command ⌘ + G to open up the Go to Folder dialog.
  5. Paste the following path into the Go to Folder dialog:

    ~/.homebridge and press Enter on the keyboard.

  6. Drag the config-sample.json file from your Desktop to the .homebridge folder.
  7. Rename the file config.json (delete the -sample portion).

Great work! You’ve installed the configuration file in the proper location. Before we get a little more familiar with the configuration file, you’ll need to download a plain text editor. TextEdit on the Mac is great, but it’s been known to mess up the configuration by changing quotes and apostrophes to “smart quotes” and “smart apostrophes” which is a big no-no for the configuration file. Homebridge suggests the Atom text editor. It’s what I use to edit the Homebridge configuration and it works well!

Understand the configuration file

Open up the Homebridge configuration file (the one you copied to the following location ~/.homebridge) in the Atom text editor. You should see four groups of information: bridge, description, accessories, and platforms.

  • Bridge: This is information used to describe your bridge (like a Philips Hue or Lutron bridge). You can change its name and the HomeKit pin.
  • Description: This is a description of your bridge and the various plugins you’ve installed. You can edit the entire text portion.
  • Accessories: These are individual, bridgeless accessories you’ve connected to your bridge (like a smart switch or plug).
  • Platforms: These are accessories that are typically connected through a bridge (like Philips Hue or Lutron Caséta).

Homebridge will launch just fine with these faux accessories and platforms in place, but I’ve found it’s best to delete them so you can start fresh when you install real plugins. You’ll want to leave the accessories and platforms categories in place — just delete the data inside of the categories.

When you’ve cleaned out your file, it should look like this:

{

"bridge": {

"name": "Homebridge",

"username": "CC:22:3D:E3:CE:30",

"port": 51826,

"pin": "031-45-154"

},

"description": "This is an example configuration file with one fake accessory and one fake platform. You can use this as a template for creating your own configuration file containing devices you actually own.",

"accessories": [ ],

"platforms": []

}

How to install plugins

Homebridge plugins serve as the bridge between non-HomeKit-enabled accessories and the Homebridge server. The plugins speak the language of your home automation accessories and translate your iOS Home app and Siri commands. You can find plugins on NPM; all Homebridge plugins begin with the text homebridge-. I’ll walk you through the installation of a plugin for the TP-Link HS105 Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini. The installation process is exactly the same for all NPM Homebridge plugins, so you need only to find the plugin that corresponds with your product and follow along!

  1. Visit the NPM site by going to this link. The link will take you to a search query for Homebridge plugins.
  2. Start to type in hs100 until you see the homebridge-hs100 NPM plugin. Click on it.
  3. Underneath the Installation section, look for the text that tells you how to install it.
  4. Open up Terminal and enter the following:

    npm install -g homebridge-hs100

  5. This will install the TP-Link Homebridge plugin, so wait for the process to complete.

  6. Head back to the plugin page and look in the Configuration section. This will show you the text you need to enter into your Homebridge configuration file.
  7. Open up the Homebridge configuration file (the one you copied to the following location ~/.homebridge) in the Atom text editor.
  8. Enter the configuration text in the proper location and save your file. If you’re installing the TP-Link plugin, your configuration file should look like this:

{

"bridge": {

"name": "Homebridge",

"username": "CC:22:3D:E3:CE:30",

"port": 51826,

"pin": "031-45-154"

},

"description": "This is an example configuration file with one fake accessory and one fake platform. You can use this as a template for creating your own configuration file containing devices you actually own.",

"accessories": [],

"platforms": [

{

"platform": "Hs100"

}

]

}

How to connect Homebridge to your HomeKit house

Alright, we’ve got Homebridge installed, we’ve got a plugin ready to go, and we’re ready to get Homebridge up and running! Here’s how you add Homebridge to HomeKit and start controlling your accessories.

  1. Launch Terminal on the Mac.
  2. Type homebridge and press Enter.
  3. Homebridge should launch and begin to load up platforms and plugins.
  4. Head to your iOS device and launch the Home app.
  5. Tap the Add button in the top right corner of the screen (looks like a plus sign).
  6. Tap Add Accessory.
  7. Tap on the Homebridge accessory (mine’s just called Homebridge).
  8. You will see an alert that says, “This accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with HomeKit.” tap Add Anyway.
  9. Tap Enter Code Manually at the bottom of the screen.
  10. Enter the HomeKit code for your Homebridge accessory. You can find it in the Terminal window underneath the text that reads, “Scan this code with your HomeKit App on your iOS device to pair with Homebridge.”
  11. Add your Homebridge accessory and tap Next.
  12. Add your TP-Link Smart Plug (or other accessory you installed with a Homebridge plugin) and tap Done.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully linked a non-HomeKit-enabled smart home accessory to HomeKit. As long as there’s a plugin available, you can add any non-HomeKit-enabled accessories you like. Just be sure to install the plugin, fill out the configuration file, and quit and relaunch Homebridge in Terminal.

How are you feeling?

Installing Homebridge is no small task! Were you able to pull it off? Struggle along the way? Did you find help in the Homebridge support pages and Slack or are you still looking for assistance? I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience and your thoughts on Homebridge; share them with me in the comments below or over on Twitter!

Good news, HomeKit enthusiasts: Apple has a mini site just for you!


Good news, HomeKit enthusiasts: Apple has a mini site just for you!

Apple’s new HomeKit mini site is the perfect place to learn about new HomeKit-enabled accessories.

I’ve been waiting for Apple create its latest mini site since I first heard the word “HomeKit” way back in 2014. The site, lovingly nestled within the iOS section of Apple’s site features a fun film that shows off some of the cool stuff you can do with HomeKit-enabled accessories, Siri, and the iOS Home app. Personally, I think the gal in the video has way too many HomeKit scenes, but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re curious, you can check out the page at the following link. If you wanna know what you’re getting yourself into first, read on!

Apple’s HomeKit mini site

So what’s this mini site all about?

It’s all about HomeKit, the Home app, and HomeKit-enabled accessories. This site is dedicated to not only explaining what the heck that little orange, house-shaped tile on your iPhone is for, it’s dedicated to explaining the benefits and possibilities of home automation with HomeKit and the Home app.

You can get a brief overview of the Home app, learn about HomeKit scenes, Siri voice control, HomeKit automations, HomeKit-enabled accessories, and home hubs.

Can’t I get that right here on iMore?

HOW FUNNY! I was hoping you were going to ask that! Yes, yes you can.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, though: You should still check out Apple’s site, ’cause it’ll be one of the places I regularly check when I’m writing about HomeKit news.

Does the site help me set up HomeKit accessories?

Yup! It can be a little tricky setting up HomeKit-enabled accessories (mostly because they typically require third-party app set up before HomeKit set up), so Apple’s linked to a support article with loads of information about setting up your various gadgets in the Home app.

What else does the site feature?

Uh, only a dream come true (for me, anyway)! There’s now a page that shows all the HomeKit-enabled accessories approved by Apple. The page is beautifully designed and split into accessory type, so you can tap (or click) to jump to a specific section.

The list has links to the various accessories (YESSSS!) and offers up information about their availability. The availability tags include Announced and Coming Soon. It’s not entirely clear what they mean, but we can use context clues to decipher:

  • Announced: Either the product has been announced for the first time or HomeKit compatibility has been announced. I get the impression this means it’ll be awhile before we see the product available for purchase.
  • Coming soon: I take it this is a step above “Announced”. The product (or HomeKit compatibility) is right around the corner. I wish I knew the exact timeframe, ’cause there are a few accessories on the list I’m eyeballing.

Anything else?

Nope, that’s pretty much it! But it’s a whole heck of a lot, to be honest. Apple’s list of HomeKit-enabled accessories used to be buried in its vast Apple Support database. The page was a long, bulleted list (without links!) of available HomeKit-enabled accessories — upcoming accessories weren’t listed. It also wasn’t updated as often as HomeKit-enabled gadgetry was hitting the market.

This dedicated mini site coupled with Tim Cook describing his personal HomeKit setup in the last Apple earnings call gives me hope and loads of excitement for the future of HomeKit and Apple’s Home app. I love having a connected home and it’s clear Apple is committed to making the smart home all the more awesome.

HomeKit in iOS 10: Tim Cook’s routines, helpful resources, and more



https://9to5mac.com/2017/02/03/homekit-ios-10-resources/

FEBRUARY 3
AAPL: 129.08

During Apple’s Q1 earnings call this week, Tim Cook used HomeKit as an example of how the iPhone is expanding Apple’s ecosystem into new areas where it can innovate:

Our ecosystem is broadening to more and more of the areas where people spend their time. At the gym, on the go, in the home, and on the job. […]

And we are leading the industry by being the first to integrate home automation into a major platform with iOS 10.

As our resident HomeKit enthusiast, Cook discussing the feature during Apple’s earnings call caught my attention. Cook even describes how he’s personally using HomeKit. Below I’ll unpack exactly what Cook said about HomeKit, a bit about how I’m using it as well, and some helpful HomeKit resources.


A disclaimer up front: your mileage may vary outside of the United States since home accessories do not use the same standards around the world. For a UK perspective, my colleague Ben Lovejoy recently detailed his experience with getting started with HomeKit.

Now more from Tim Cook:

With Siri and the new Home app in iOS 10, everywhere you go you can easily and securely control all of your home accessories with your iPhone, iPad, or your Apple Watch.

You can also control HomeKit using Siri on the new Apple TV with tvOS 10. There’s no Home app for Apple TV (yet), but using the Siri Remote to control home accessories when picking a movie is convenient.

You actually need an Apple TV (3rd or 4th generation) to have remote access to HomeKit like Cook mentioned, and automation which is really useful requires an Apple TV (4th generation) with tvOS 10 or an iPad with iOS 10 that’s powered on and present to work.

The number of HomeKit compatible accessories continues to grow rapidly with many exciting solutions announced just this month including video cameras, motion detectors, and sensors for doors, windows, and even water leaks.

HomeKit product availability expanding is absolutely true. A lot of stuff is promised and coming soon, but you can already buy plenty of HomeKit accessories. One challenge I’ve found, though, is that there’s no single store for everything HomeKit including Apple.

I think the misconception that there isn’t much HomeKit hardware starts with how it was introduced.

HomeKit was announced with iOS 8 back in June 2014 but we didn’t see the first compatible accessories until a year later. Fast forward another year and Apple upgraded HomeKit with a built-in app to manage it and support for more accessories.

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Much of what Cook references was unveiled at CES at the beginning of the year and is coming throughout this year.

The pattern seems to be that Apple announces support through the HomeKit framework at its annual developer conference in June, then home accessory makers are able to catch up a year later.

Perhaps even more importantly, we are unmatched when it comes to securing your home with HomeKit enabled door locks, garage doors, and alarm systems.

HomeKit has been healthy on the door lock front for a while now with solutions from August, Schlage, and others, and the Home app on iOS 10 makes lock support better with Control Center access and automation.

Chamberlain is delivering HomeKit support to garage door openers starting this spring (after being a launch partner in 2014), and Honeywell has HomeKit support coming to its Lyric Security system (although I’m not totally sure how it will work with the Home app).

I’m personally using HomeKit accessories in the Home app to integrate iOS into my Home routine. Now when I say good morning to Siri, my house lights come on and my coffee starts brewing. When I go to the living room to relax in the evening, I use Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace.

Cook is talking about using scenes in HomeKit when he references telling Siri good morning to control accessories. Controlling individual accessories is neat, but where HomeKit really gets useful is when you group multiple actions under a single command or even an automation that happens on its own.

For example, I usually wake up at the same time every week day, manually turn off the bedroom fan, and walk around and turn on the same lights around the house. Through HomeKit, I have a scene called Good Morning that turns my bedroom fan off and turns the right lights on based on a time of day automation.

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I like that this occurs without even interacting with Siri, but Siri is a good solution if you wake up at different times like I do on the weekend.

It can be expensive to set up the right accessories for useful automation, but the products that can do it are definitely on the market now.

Cook also talks about location-based automation:

And when I leave the house, a simple tap on my iPhone turns the lights off, adjusts the thermostat down, and locks the doors. When I return to my house in the evening as I near my home, the house prepares itself for my arrival automatically by using a simple geofence.

Everything he describes here is totally possible now with Philips Hue or Lutron Caseta for lighting; ecobeeHoneywell, or iDevices for thermostats; and August or Schlage for locks set to the I’m Leaving scene.

Cook’s also describing using an automation based on location to enable the I’m Home scene with HomeKit using the same types of accessories.

This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago and it’s here today with iOS and HomeKit.

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HomeKit isn’t perfect but it’s come a long, long way in the last 18 months. I think it has a reputation for being a feature without hardware to support it since that was true during the first year, but it’s easy to spend a lot of money (trust me) on real HomeKit hardware now and even more accessories are coming this year.

There are opportunities to make HomeKit more user-friendly and compatible accessories easier to find, but Apple has definitely made progress by promoting HomeKit to a built-in app in iOS 10.

If you want to learn more about HomeKit, these resources from Apple are useful:

Apple also has a section on its online store dedicated to HomeKit accessories, although you’ll find some HomeKit accessories at Best BuyAmazon, and other retailers just by searching ‘HomeKit’ that aren’t available from Apple.

For the most up-to-date HomeKit news, bookmark 9to5Mac‘s HomeKit Guide and stay caught up on product announcements, news, and reviews before they hit stores.

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Cook describing how HomeKit works for him motivated me to revisit how I can do the same with scenes and automation based on my routines. It can be super basic but useful every day.

For example, I take my dog out first thing in the morning which is before sunrise while it’s still dark outside. I created an automation to turn the porch lights on at 5 a.m. and another to turn them off at sunrise so they come on and off as needed.

Later in the day, the porch lights turn on at sunset and turn back off at 11 p.m. automatically. That’s four separate automations in the Home app which you have to set up once ahead of time, but it’s rewarding when you base it around your existing habits.

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Another example is my Work scene. My Good Morning scene automatically turns of the right lights in the morning, but I work from my home office and don’t use the I’m Leaving scene to shut the house down.

Instead, I created a scene called Work that turns off all the lights in the house, locks the front door, and leaves anything in my home office turned on. This is an example of noticing a pattern in my routine over a long period of time, then finally putting a scene together that can achieve what I was doing manually (or meaning to do) before.

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Everything you set up in Apple’s Home app can be shared with family over iCloud and be mirrored on their iPhones and iPads based on what you create and how you arrange it. Control Center favorites are even matched so you can be the manager of your smart home and let your family benefit without having to set it up too.

Apple’s Home app even intelligently uses location to know which homes to show. For example, I can share my HomeKit setup with my mother-in-law so she can use Siri and the Home app to control accessories when she’s visiting, but her Home app will only default to my home accessories when she’s nearby.

Based on Tim Cook pitching HomeKit during an earnings call and Apple promoting HomeKit to a built-in app with iOS 10, I’m optimistic that it’s not just a hobby project for the company and instead one that will continue to improve with time.

Apple’s investment into the feature should also send a message to accessory makers that HomeKit support is something customers will expect. The next sign I’ll be looking for is what changes HomeKit receives in iOS 11 and if HomeKit comes to the Mac with the next macOS update.


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Did your HomeKit home disappear? Here’s how to reset HomeKit sync


Did your HomeKit home disappear? Here’s how to reset HomeKit sync

If your HomeKit house disappears or is having trouble syncing, here’s what you can do to fix it.

When I updated to iOS 9.2 on my iPhone this week, I ran into a terrifying bug: Upon restart, my HomeKit house vanished.

First, the good news. The data still showed up on my other devices, including on a device I’d given guest access to, so it thankfully hadn’t vanished into the ether and I didn’t have to consider resetting my whole HomeKit house. (I’ve done that for troubleshooting articles before. It’s not fun.)

But no matter what I did, I just couldn’t see HomeKit on my iPhone. The HomeKit scren appeared in the Settings app, but instead of “The Palace,” I saw a mournful “You currently do not have any homes or invitations to homes.” No bueno.

After some consultation and experimentation, it turns out that a strange app bug had glitched my iCloud syncing. As a result, myHomeKit data in iCloud stopped syncing with my physical device, presenting as a device with no data. (I’ve also seen a bug where your accessories show up, but you can’t interact with any of them.) Your data is fine—as evidenced by perfectly-functioning HomeKit apps on other iOS accessories logged into your account—but it just can’t communicate with your iPhone any longer.

If you’ve run into something similar yourself, here are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to try and fix it.

Step 1: Reboot your device.

Sometimes a simple device reboot is all your iPhone needs to right itself back with the iCloud sync repository.

Step 2: Turn iCloud Keychain off.

If a reboot doesn’t work, try rebooting the next best thing: iCloud Keychain. Your HomeKit data syncs via iCloud’s encrypted storage locker, and turning it off and on again forces a re-sync between your device and the keychain.

NOTE: Before you turn off iCloud Keychain, make sure you either know your security code or have another device of yours logged in to iCloud nearby so you can reauthenticate your iPhone.

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud.
  2. Tap on Keychain.
  3. Turn iCloud Keychain off.


  4. Reboot your device.
  5. Go to Settings > iCloud > Keychain and turn iCloud Keychain back on.
  6. Approve iCloud Keychain from another device or enter your security code.
  7. Wait a few minutes to see if your Home data reappears; if it doesn’t, try rebooting your device again.

Step 3: Reset your iCloud account on your device

If rebooting iCloud Keychain didn’t do the trick, it’s time to consider the nuclear option: Logging out of iCloud on your device. This can be a pain for a number of different reasons, but the biggest annoyance is that it resets all credit and loyalty cards you have in Apple Pay. Still, if you haven’t had luck with any of the above steps, it might be time to give this a try.

For this step, you’ll also need a second Apple ID—to help reset iCloud sync. If you don’t have one (or live with a significant other who has one), you can create one for free at the sign in screen.

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud.
  2. Tap Sign Out, and confirm.
  3. You’ll be prompted that all iCloud-stored notes and images will be deleted from your device. Press Delete to confirm.


  4. Press Keep on My [device] when iCloud prompts you about locally-stored calendars, News data, Safari data, and more (to reduce sync time).
  5. Enter your Apple ID password and press Turn Off.
  6. After your account is disabled, go back to the iCloud settings screen.
  7. Log in with your other iCloud account (or create a new iCloud account at this time).
  8. Tap Don’t Merge when asked about your data.


  9. Log out of the secondary iCloud account (follow steps 2-5).
  10. Log back into your primary iCloud account.
  11. Tap Merge when asked about your data.
  12. Go to the Keychain screen and turn iCloud Keychain back on.
  13. Approve iCloud Keychain from another device or enter your security code.
  14. Wait a few minutes to see if your Home data reappears in your HomeKit app of choice; if it doesn’t, try rebooting your device.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments. Step 3 was the step that finally worked for me, though it did come at the cost of having to set up my Apple Pay cards once more. With luck, you’ll be able to reset your HomeKit data with one of the earlier steps.