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Hands-on with all the HomeKit changes in iOS 15

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Hands-on with all the HomeKit changes in iOS 15

Apple’s HomeKit got a dedicated section of the WWDC keynote. With iOS 15 installed on our test device, we walk you through all the new features you can expect to see in the fall.

Siri enhancements

Let our hearts be calm. Apple has finally delivered one of the most frequent requests for HomeKit control. That would be the ability to ask Siri to control devices in the future. With this update, you can ask Siri to control your accessories at a certain time.

Siri Gets New Skills for HomeKit Users

Here are some examples. You can ask Siri to turn off the lights in the room in 45 minutes. You could ask Siri to turn on the kitchen lights in 20 minutes. Or maybe tell Siri to turn off your living room TV when you leave.

This allows for a much more natural conversation with Siri and will go a long way towards improving usability. Year after year we yearn for this feature and it is finally a possibility with iOS 15.

House key

Apple released an updated version of CarKey in WWDC ’21, but Apple also brought HomeKit to the Wallet app. With a compatible HomeKit lock, you will be able to walk up to your door and use a virtual key in the Wallet app to unlock your door.

HomeKey pass in the wallet

HomeKey pass in the wallet

By moving your home key to your wallet along with your credit cards, loyalty cards, car keys, and identification, HomeKey keeps all of your essentials in one place. You also won’t have to open the Home app or ask Siri to open the door for you. It will appear on your lock screen like other wallet passes, and you can authenticate and unlock your door without any hassle.

HomeKit Secure Video

With iOS 15, users can expect their HomeKit camera to identify not only people, vehicles, and animals, but packages as well.

Toggle Packet Detection for HomeKit Cameras

Packet Detection Switch for HomeKit Secure Video Cameras

HomeKit Secure Video gets a boost with iOS 15 thanks in part to the introduction of iCloud +. There are some features built into iCloud +. While retaining the same price as before, users on the 2TB plan go from five HomeKit secure video cameras to unlimited.

Siri-enabled accessories

Ecobee smart thermostat with voice control using Siri

Ecobee smart thermostat with voice control using Siri

For the first time, Siri will be available on a non-Apple device. Apple allows HomeKit device manufacturers to create Siri-enabled devices. Users will still need to have a HomePod or HomePod mini in their home, but can otherwise communicate with Siri through these third-party devices.

Ecobee was the first company to commit to support with a firmware update that will roll out later this year for the Ecobee smart thermostat with voice control.

Apple watch

New Apple Watch Home app

New Apple Watch Home app

Apple’s Home app for Apple Watch has often come up as an afterthought. It was just showing your favorite items and it wasn’t great to navigate. Thanks to iOS 15 and watchOS 8, users will now get a full-featured Apple Watch app for their HomeKit accessories.

The Intercom button is right at the top to quickly communicate with anyone in the home. Below that button are a series of status buttons that let you know the status of various sensors. Then Apple will intelligently, through machine learning, complete a series of scenes and devices that it thinks you may need. Below are all the rooms in your home.

Room view in the Home app enhanced in APple Watch

Room view in the improved Home app on Apple Watch

Each room will have its sensors above the view and all the individual devices for you to control. Users can view cameras and use two-way audio on those that support it, directly from Apple Watch.

Apple tv

Apple TV HomeKit Cameras

New HomeKit camera control on Apple TV

For Apple TV, Apple added improvements to HomeKit cameras. All cameras can be viewed at once in a grid view, allowing a complete look at your home. When viewing a specific camera, you can turn accessories on or off.

If you’re looking at your porch camera and you see someone approaching, you could turn on the lights for them as an example.

to import

Project Connected Home over IP – officially renamed Matter – will be fully compatible with iOS 15. Apple has more to share when it comes to developing these devices, but it looks promising.

Apple says that any device certified to work with Matter will be available directly within the Home app and controlled via Siri. Over time, this should drive more compatible smart home devices for HomeKit users.

Coming this fall

Apple is set to release iOS 15 to the masses this fall as a free software update for iPhone users. The changes to HomeKit represent just a small subset of countless new features making their debut.

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