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Our Verdict

Unlike  most of its rivals, the Arlo Q offers free cloud recording for seven days. It also has night vision, two-way communication and a well-designed app available for iOS, Android and FireOS.

Arlo Q Smart Camera review: Price & Availability

The Arlo Q costs £169.99 from Amazon. If you’re in the US you can buy an Arlo Q from Amazon for $149.99. 

This makes it a fairly affordable smart home security camera but if you’re after cheaper alternatives, check out our recommendations in our roundup of the best security cameras.

Arlo Q Smart Camera review: Design

Compared with some smart home cameras, the Arlo Q looks fairly simple and unassuming – exactly what a security camera should be. While some cameras sport futuristic, sexy designs, these are more likely to be spotted by potential intruders in your home while something fairly small, like the 69.8 x 71.1 x 114.3mm and 167g Arlo Q, is more likely to go unnoticed.

The base of the Arlo Q can be affixed to the wall for extra security, but I prefer the alternative method. You see, while many bulky home cameras offer options to attach the camera to a wall using screws or sat on a flat surface, the Arlo Q can be attached to metal surfaces using built-in magnets. It’s hassle free, and provides users with metal surfaces an easy way to set up the Arlo Q without getting the drill out.

While some cameras are designed to be portable and wireless, that isn’t the case with the Arlo Q. The home security camera requires constant power to work, and although it features a built-in battery for power cuts, etc, it won’t last too long unaided. This means that you have to consider where to place the camera, as it has to be near a power outlet. Of course, the upside to this is that you don’t need to worry about charging the system to keep it online – just plug it in and forget about it, until it’s required.

Arlo Q Smart Camera review: Features and performance

Setting up the Arlo Q at home was a surprisingly easy experience. In my experience, I find that it usually takes two or three setup attempts to get a smart security camera connected to Wi-Fi – however with the Arlo Q, I was set up and ready to go within minutes, as it worked the first time. It’s so simple to set up too – simply plug in the camera, download the app and input your details, then the app generates a QR code to share this information with the camera. All you need to do is raise your smartphone screen up to the camera and it’ll automatically connect itself to your home network. Like I said, nice and simple.

The Arlo Q supports the 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency too, not only 2.4GHz like other popular smart home security cameras, like the Piper Classic. Connecting to the 5GHz network allows users to access the live camera feed much more quickly, an important feature when checking the camera after a motion notification.

But how do you access it? Via a smartphone app, or via your browser. Users can download the Arlo Q app across iOS, Android and even Amazon’s FireOS, and those using a PC or Mac can access their cameras via a number of web browsers. There’s a common issue when it comes to security cameras though, where the security camera itself is packed full of cool tech, but the app often lets it down. It’s not the case with Arlo Q though, as the iOS app I used during my time with the camera was well designed and intuitive, worlds away from some of the sub-par security camera apps I’ve used in the past.

The Arlo Q features a 1080p HD camera with a wide angle lens, offering customers a 130-degree field of vision when looking at the live camera feed. The high quality of the stream also allows users to ‘pinch-to-zoom’ into certain areas of the room for a closer look, although the quality quickly degrades when zooming in. The quality is generally quite clear, impressively so in rooms flooded in daylight, although in dark conditions (that don’t quite merit the night vision mode) the video feed starts to lose clarity. 

As I briefly mentioned above, the Arlo Q also features night vision, allowing you to keep an eye on your home or business long after the sun has gone down without running up an expensive electric bill. According to the manufacturer the Arlo Q features 850nm infrared LEDs, illuminating the area up to 25 feet away from the camera. While I couldn’t confirm this for myself during testing, I have no complaints about clarity when using night vision in my living room (although it’s far from 25ft long). If you’re looking to secure a large area with the camera, it might be worth measuring the space first. 

The app allows you to converse with whoever you’re monitoring, too. Thanks to the built-in speaker and microphone of the Arlo Q, users can activate the two-way audio feature in-app, allowing them to talk and respond to whoever might be on camera. It can allow you to do fairly simple things like telling your kids to go back to sleep when you catch them sneaking out at night, to ordering intruders to leave the premises remotely. Of course no one is going to chat to a burglar mid-robbery, but informing them that the police are on the way (along with a few obscenities, of course) will hopefully get them to move on.

You can also set up Activity zones via the app, which monitor motion in specific areas instead of the room as a whole. This is ideal for those that have pets, as you can focus on motion detection at a height that pets can’t reach, avoiding false alarms at 4am when you think there’s a burglar, when in reality your dog was wandering around your front room. Of course that’s just one example and there are many other uses for activity zones, depending on the needs of the person in question. We found it fairly easy to set up activity zones in the app, and found them to be generally quite accurate during our testing.

What happens when motion or loud noises are detected? You’re alerted, of course, via push notification on your smartphone and email – although you can toggle either off at any time within the Arlo app. A video clip is also recorded, 15 second by default, that is uploaded to the cloud so even if the Arlo Q camera gets destroyed, the evidence is safe. The video is available to view from your smartphone within seconds, and can be saved to your device with a few taps. You can also set the camera to record constantly until no more movement is detected, although the mode is currently in beta testing and we wouldn’t rely on it if we didn’t have to.

Those that want the option of storing recorded videos locally should take a look at the Arlo Q’s bigger brother, the Arlo Q Plus. The Arlo Q Plus lets you record locally via a built-in microSD card slot, alongside a handful of other enhancements when compared to the standard Arlo Q.

There’s also an option to record 24/7, but this doesn’t come for free. While users are provided with seven days of free cloud recording when purchasing the Arlo Q, those interested in constant video and audio recording can pay a little extra for the capabilities.

Related articles for further reading Specs Netgear Arlo Q: Specs

1080p HD video, 30fps

130 degree FOV

Night vision, up to 25ft

8x digital zoom

Arlo app for iOS, Android & FireOS

Can be accessed by web browser

2-way communication

2.4 & 5GHz Wi-Fi support

69.8 x 71.1 x 114.3mm

167g

Magnetic base for easy attachment

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Smart Home Diary: Domestic Negotiations, And The Three Categories Of Smart Home Tech

A conversation this morning got me thinking about the different categories of smart home tech.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love gadgets for their own sake. If there’s a low-tech way of doing something and a hi-tech way of doing it, I’ll tend to favor the hi-tech option even where the benefit is marginal.

My partner is not of the same view. She’s not a Luddite by any means – she has an iPhone, iPad, Mac, and appreciates some hi-tech solutions – but for her, the default option is the traditional way of doing things. Any technological wizardry has to justify itself.

This results in some negotiations about the devices we have in our apartment, which led me to the conclusion that there are three categories of smart home tech …

More cool than useful

Unquestionably useful

No-brainer

Let’s look at a few examples …

More cool than useful

In the ‘more cool than useful’ category I’d put things like Nanoleaf light panels and Philips Hue Light Strips.

Note that I say more cool than useful. I don’t mean to imply that they aren’t useful at all. I currently use my Nanoleaf light panel as ambient lighting in my office, providing enough illumination when I have the blinds closed to keep out the sun.

Similarly with Hue Light Strips. At the back of my desk, it’s more mostly for fun, but the form-factor of Light Strips means they also tick the ‘useful’ box as kitchen counter-top and in-wardrobe lighting.

Unquestionably useful

The most obvious example of this category is Philips Hue lightbulbs.

They clearly aren’t necessary – human beings have survived for quite a long time with manually-operated light switches – but their usefulness is clear. Being able to ask Siri to switch lights on or off is really handy, as are scenes which trigger entire sets of lights when going to bed, for example.

Motion-sensors too definitely qualify as ‘unquestionably useful.’ Now, sure, we’ve had those for a long time – they don’t require smart bulbs – but smart home tech can do more.

For example, wander into our kitchen alcove, and the countertop lighting comes on and goes off again two minutes later. Dumb tech can do that. But if we’ve set the color to blue or pink as mood lighting for the living room, the motion sensor switches them to white lighting when you walk into the kitchen. (I just wish there was a way of reverting the color afterwards.)

Similarly with wardrobe lighting. Open the wardrobe doors, and normally you’ll get full brightness lighting. But do so after 11pm, when Steph is normally in bed, and it will only come on at 10% brightness – enough to hang up jacket and jeans but not enough to wake her.

Siri control, too, has been something that has won Steph over. Yes, she insisted on manual wall switches as well, but does now frequently switch lights on and off with a ‘Hey Siri’ command to a HomePod.

No-brainer

There’s a third category which I would argue are no-brainers if you can afford them.

If the machines can take the drudgery out of it and just leave us with the joy of drawing, then that’s the best of both worlds.

And that’s how I feel about automation generally: its greatest gift is freeing us from drudgery. If there’s a boring, repetitive task that can be automated, that’s worth a huge amount.

The window blinds we have in the winter garden are a good example for us. If you leave the blinds open on sunny days between May and September, things get unbearably hot. It would be a complete pain to have to manually close seven separate blinds at noon, opening them again at sunset. This is the type of repetitive task which calls out for automation, so having blinds that do that automatically is worth the not-insignificant cost.

Another example is vacuum cleaning. I liked the Neato D7 Connected so much that I immediately bought one when the review model went back. And this was one gadget where Steph not only immediately agreed, but indeed proactively suggested it. After a few weeks of use, she was hooked.

Negotiations are currently underway about a second, floor-mopping robot (review to follow shortly). I say it’s a no-brainer, Steph says two domestic robots is a step too far. Place your bets.

With perhaps a fourth?

Maybe there’s a fourth category: smart home tech you would never consider. Some people feel that way about smart speakers, for example, concerned about electronic eavesdropping. I don’t – we have HomePod, Echo Dot, and Google Home Mini speakers – but I do feel that way about in-home security cameras. The hacking risk, for me, is a step too far.

I used to feel the same way about smart locks. But I’ve recently re-evaluated that, simply because of our circumstances. We live in a building that requires a fob to access exterior and lobby doors, so the risk of unauthorized access is low. And it would be handy to be able to let neighbors in sometimes where we’re away without having to hand out a bunch of keys. So I’ll be checking out these in a future post.

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20 Best Smart Home Devices Compatible With Google Home (India)

The Google Home and Google Home Mini has been available in India for quite a while now and while they’re pretty handy when used by themselves, their real potential is unlocked when you pair them with other smart home devices which unlocks a whole new set of possibilities. If you’ve been wondering which smart home devices you can get your hands on in the Indian market, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the best smart home devices compatible with the Google Home that you can buy in India right now. Without much further ado, let’s jump right into the list and take a look at smart home devices compatible with the Google Home:

Smart Home Devices Compatible with Google Home

Smart Lights Compatible with Google Home 1. Philips Hue Mini Starter Kit

If you’re into home automation or smart home devices, then you’ve probably already heard of the Philips Hue. The Philips Hue smart light mini starter kit comes with a 10Watt Hue RGB bulb which can be screwed into any normal bulb socket in your house. The package also contains a Philips Hue Bridge which can be connected to your WiFi router and can be controlled using the Philips Hue app. As you’d expect, you can also set up the voice command feature with your Google Home, which will allow you to control your Philips Hue smart lights via voice commands remotely.

Buy from Amazon (₹6,499)

2. Philips Hue Go

Buy from Amazon (₹8,995)

3. Philips Hue Lightstrip

In case you’re looking for something more discreet, then you can opt for the Philips Hue Lightstrip which, as the name suggests, is an LED lightstrip that can be customized using a Philips Hue Bridge. Much like the aforementioned products, the LEDs can be customized with up to 16 million colors and can be remotely controlled using the Philips Hue app or via voice commands to your Google Assistant. Do note that the Philips Hue Lightstrip doesn’t come with a Philips Hue Bridge, which you’ll have to buy separately in order to use the product.

4. Xorb WiFi Smart LED Bulb

In case the aforementioned Philips Hue products seem a bit too costly, you can opt for the Xorb WiFi Smart LED Bulb, which is a 7Watt bulb that can be controlled using Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, or using its own app. The bulb has a life span of about 30,000 hours and even though it comes in fairly cheap, it also offers support for 16 million color options. However, since all of the bulb’s wireless components are included within its body, don’t expect it to perform as well as the Philips Hue setup which has a separate hub controlling all operations.

Buy from Amazon (₹1,499)

Smart Locks Compatible With Google Home 1. Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock Conversion Kit

If you’re interested in getting a smart lock for your home which you can control with your Google Home, then you can definitely consider the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock conversion kit. The kit will allow you to convert your regular deadbolt door lock into a smart lock which can be controlled via the Kevo app and also by voice commands, however you’ll require the Kevo Plus hub in order to do that. The smart lock will allow you to automatically lock or unlock the device in Bluetooth range.

Buy from Amazon (₹7,636)

2. August Smart Lock Pro

Another great smart lock that you can consider is the August Smart Lock Pro which will allow you to control and keep track of who enters and exits from your house via the mobile app. Much like the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock, the August Smart Lock Pro attaches to your existing deadbolt door lock, but it has a much smaller footprint and a very minimalist design. The August Smart Lock Pro is a certified Z-Wave Plus home product which maintains high standards of security to keep your home safe from intruders. The smart lock can be controlled via the mobile app and through voice commands to the Google Assistant, but it doesn’t require a separate hub which is definitely a great addition.

Buy from Amazon (₹26,711)

Smart Plugs, Sockets & Switches Compatible With Google Home 1. TP-Link HS200 Smart WiFi Light Switch

Buy from Amazon (₹2,399)

2. TP-Link HS100 WiFi Smart Plug

In case you want to remotely control your electrical appliances, you can opt for the TP-Link HS100 WiFi Smart Plug. You can connect any small electrical appliance to the smart plug and it’ll allow you to remotely control the appliance using the TP-Link Kasa app. You’ll also be able to control the appliances using voice control and it comes with support for the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana, so you won’t be limited to a single smart ecosystem.

3. Oakter Basic Smart Home Kit

The Oakter Basic Smart Home Kit is a combination of two smart plugs and a connecting hub which will allow you to control two smart appliances using your smartphone. The smart home kit consists of one 16A smart plug and one 6A smart plug which will allow you to connect one large and one small electrical appliance at the same time. The smart plugs can be controlled using the Oakter app and also comes with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to control the appliances via voice commands.

Buy from Amazon (₹5,823)

4. Sonoff Smart Switch

In case you’re looking for a smart home switch on a very tight budget, you can opt for the Sonoff Basic WiFi Smart Switch which can be used to control any electrical appliance remotely. The smart switch can be easily installed with any electrical appliance and can be controlled using the Sonoff app and through voice commands via the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Buy from Amazon (₹800)

5. Smarteefi 3 in 1 Smart Plug

The Smarteefi 3 in 1 Smart Plug is a very handy smart plug which doesn’t require any electrical work like most other smart plugs and switches on this list. The Smarteefi Smart Plug looks like a normal power strip with three plug points which can be individually controlled by connecting the device to your home WiFi. The smart plug has an Android app and web portal which will allow you to control your appliances remotely, and it even includes support for Google Home and Amazon Alexa for control via voice commands.

Buy from Amazon (₹2,999)

6. D-Link DS-W215 Smart Plug

Buy from Amazon (₹1,888)

7. IOT Smart Plug

Much like the D-Link DSP-W215, the IOT Smart Plug is another great smart plug which doesn’t require any complicated installation. Just plug it into any regular wall socket, connect you electrical appliance and you’re good to go. The WiFi based ITO Smart Plug can be controlled from anywhere using an app or via voice commands issued to Alexa or the Google Assistant. The IOT Smart Plug also offers an automated scheduling functionality and a timer function which will allow you to set schedules to turn on/off your connected devices.

Smart Security Cameras Compatible With Google Home 1. Nest Cam Outdoor Security

If you’re worried about your home’s security, then it’s a good idea to invest in a smart security camera like the Nest Cam Outdoor Security camera. The camera has a 130-degree wide-angle view which delivers 1080p HD footage of its field of view 24/7 directly to your smartphone. The installation is pretty simple, requiring you to connect it to a regular wall outlet and your home WiFi. The Nest Cam Outdoor can detect activity and send an instant alert to your smartphone or email along with a picture. It even has a built in microphone and speaker which will allow you to talk to or listen to someone using the companion app. As expected, it works wonderfully with your Google Home devices and can be completely automated to keep your house secure all the time.

Buy from Amazon (₹28,545)

2. Nest 1080P HD Camera

In case you’re looking for an indoor security camera solution, you can invest in the Nest 1080p HD Camera which can be placed anywhere in your home. Much like the outdoor security camera from Nest, the Nest 1080p HD delivers crisp and clear live footage to your smartphone via the companion app through its all-glass lens which has a 130-degree field of view. It even has a great night vision feature which will allow you to monitor activity even when the lights are turned off. The Nest 1080p HD Camera seamlessly connects to your Google Home, allowing you to control it by issuing voice commands.

Buy from Amazon (₹24,999)

3. Netgear Arlo Pro

If you’re looking for a more thorough smart security camera package, you can invest in the Netgear Arlo Pro Rechargeable HD Camera which not only provides all the functionality of the Nest cameras but also gives you the freedom to place them in areas where you don’t have a nearby power outlet. The completely wireless Arlo Pro kit also has a 2-way audio mic and speaker with push-to-talk functionality so that you can talk to people on the other end using your smartphone.

Buy from Amazon (₹39,500)

Smart Entertainment Devices Compatible With Google Home 1. Google Chromecast 2

Buy from Flipkart (₹3,399)

2. Google Chromecast Audio

Much like the Google Chromecast 2, the Chromecast Audio is a media streaming device which, as its name suggests, allows you to stream audio to any device which includes a 3.5mm input jack. The Chromecast Audio can also be controlled using your compatible smartphone and as you’d expect, you can even control it using your Google Home device. It even feature a handy multi-room feature which will allow you to connect multiple Chromecast devices to different speaker systems and play the same songs on each speaker system at the same time.

Smart Sensors Compatible With Google Home 1. Ecobee3 Room Sensor

The Ecobee3 Room Sensor is a very handy little gadget which you can place in any room in your house to monitor its temperature and automatically adjust the connected thermostat or air conditioner to alter the temperature of the room depending on its current occupancy. The Ecobee3 comes with two remote sensors which can be mounted on the walls or placed on any surface using the included stands. Do note that you’ll need a compatible thermostat in order to get this setup to work. As you’d expect, the Ecobee sensors can also be manually controlled using voice commands, allowing you to control the temperature of your room remotely.

Buy from Amazon (₹11,068)

2. Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

The Ecobee 4 is a smart thermostat and sensor package, which functions much like the Ecobee 3 but doesn’t require you to have a compatible thermostat as it comes with one in the box. The thermostat and sensor combo can also function automatically depending on your presets and it can also be controlled using the companion app, via voice commands through your Google Home and it’s also compatible with IFTTT.

Buy from Amazon (₹29,999)

SEE ALSO: 15 Best Smart Home Devices You Can Buy in India

Smart Home Devices Compatible with Google Home

The Best Smart Home Hubs For 2023

Home hubs are a great asset for anyone who wants to make their home “smarter.” With so many home hubs on the market, however, it can be confusing as to which are high quality and which are not worth your time.

That’s why we’ve collected the home hubs worth your money in 2023, because none of us have the time or the money to waste on sub-par home hubs!

What Is a Home Hub?

If you’re not sure what a home hub is, it’s essentially the “brain” of a smart home. Smart devices, by themselves, typically only collect data; they can’t really do anything with what they gather. They have to send it somewhere, so the data can be processed into information.

As such, a smart hub acts as a central point from which your smart gadgets can do their jobs. Some smart gadgets let you control them through the smart hub, such as changing the smart thermostat via voice command.

1. Amazon Echo Plus

How could we not start with this? The Amazon Echo Plus is one of the best smart home hubs on the market right now. It’s compatible with many third-party smart tools, such as the Philips Hue smart bulbs. All Amazon Echos have Alexa built in, which is handy for performing simple voice-activated commands.

2. Amazon Echo Show

Actually having a visual display is extremely useful on a device that you want to use to control your smart home. Yes, it’s cheaper to just get smart speakers, but they don’t give you an overview of what all your smart devices are doing in the same way.

That’s why the Echo Show, despite the higher price tag, is the best Echo device for those with a larger collection of smart devices. It has a lot of options for controlling smart devices, including the popular Zigbee wireless certification.

On the downside, it doesn’t have Z-wave functionality, which means it lags a bit behind devices like the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi. There are a couple of varieties of the Echo Show, but only the Echo Show 2nd gen packs full smart home hub functionality.

3. Google Home

The Google Home is arguably the best competition for the Amazon Echo right now; as a result, it’s not to be neglected. If you have connections to Google services, you’ll appreciate how Google Home integrates with them all natively. It’s also compatible with Nest if you’re planning to equip your home with smart security.

4. Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi

Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi may not be as popular as Amazon or Google’s entries, but it does have a very fascinating additional feature. You can just get the base model, or you can buy multiple SmartThings and connect them as a mesh. They also act as routers, meaning you can fix Wi-Fi dead zones in your home while also connecting everything to the smart home.

5. Lenovo Smart Display

At first glance, the Lenovo Smart Display just looks like a screen. Don’t be fooled, however; underneath the hood is the capability to control a smart home. It’s compatible with products such as Nest and Philips Hue, so you can get the most out of some of the most popular smart gadgets on the market. It also gives a nice screen display for when you need to show a video to friends – not something a smart hub can normally do!

Which One Is the Best?

As you can tell from the above examples, there is no “best hub” by default. It all depends on what you want from your home hub, and how you intend to use it.

Amazon’s entries are fantastic, have Alexa support, and have full-feature and budget options. Google Home is great if you use Google services extensively, the Samsung model is great for nullifying Wi-Fi dead spots, and the Lenovo screen is the only one that can show visuals without an external monitor.

They all have their strengths, so think about what you want from a hub and get the one that suits your needs best. The “best hub” is the one that fits into your daily schedule most efficiently!

Homeworthy Hubs

Smart hubs work as the “brains” of the smart home, allowing you to control every element from a central point. As we covered above, there are many different types of hubs; it’s up to you to pick your favorite.

Which hub do you like most? Are there any all-star hubs we missed out on? Let us know below.

Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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The Best Apple Homekit Smart Home Starter Kit

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Written By Mahesh Nair

Published Jul 30, 2023 9:30 AM

Deciding between Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit smart home platforms can be daunting. It’s a choice that will likely guide your gadget buying preferences for years to come. Even once you’ve decided to build an Apple HomeKit smart home,  the rapidly expanding market of smart home-compatible devices and upgrading your home from dumb to smart can seem overwhelming. 

Apple HomeKit provides a solid base for your smart home, so it’s a great place to start your planning. Everything in this guide works seamlessly with Apple’s smart home software. As an added bonus you’ll be building your system around Apple’s security and privacy features which are more robust than both Amazon’s and Google’s. 

Apple Homekit devices for a smart home: the Coziest Ecosystem

HomeKit offers a somewhat limited selection of compatible devices when compared to Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home ecosystems. However, this is at least partially by design. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to iPhone and Mac users. Apple maintains tight controls over all of its platforms.  The company keeps a runnning list on their website of all devices that work with HomeKit. 

What HomeKit lacks in options it makes up for with ease of setup. Many devices that work with Alexa and Google Assistant require their own apps. All HomeKit-compatible devices are designed to work within the Apple Home app, which is built into iOS and macOS. This level of integration minimizes glitches and saves you from downloading a separate app for each smart home device you add. 

If you’re seriously considering HomeKit for your smart home system, you likely already have one or more Apple products, so this level of integration will be nothing new to you. 

From Home, to Rooms, to Scenes

The Apple Home app allows you to control all devices in your smart home from a single interface. The app further organizes your devices into Rooms, based on their location in your home. Beyond that, the app allows you to set up “Scenes” which are essentially prearranged settings that touch multiple devices. For example, you could create an “Away” Scene that turns off all the lights in your home, locks the doors, and changes the thermostat to a more economical setting. 

You can trigger these scenes—and pretty much any other smart home event—through the Home app or through Siri voice commands. 

Before you Buy, Check the Wi-Fi

HomeKit makes it dead simple to set up your smart home devices as long as they get adequate wi-fi coverage. If your house has multiple floors or a very large footprint, you may want to consider purchasing range extenders. Changing to a mesh network will also work. Making sure that the wi-fi signal from your router can reach all of your smart home devices (especially those that will stay outdoors such as smart doorbells or security cameras) is vital.

Smarthub for Home, and Away

Thanks to Apple’s tight mobile integration, you can control every aspect of your HomeKit devices from your iPhone. This is great when you need to adjust settings while you’re away. However, in order to use this functionality, you will need some sort of a hub for your smart home. When you’re home and don’t have your phone on you every single moment, the convenience of having a hub for your smart home is undeniable. 

A smart home hub gives you the ability to simply speak commands to Siri and have every device in your home obey you. Perfect for those moments when your hands are messy from cooking dinner, the kids are screaming at you, and you need to adjust the thermostat. You will also need a smart hub to use HomeKit’s “Scenes” feature. 

Originally, Apple allowed you to use an iPad, AppleTV, or 3rd party smart hubs, but did not make a smart hub of its own. This changed in 2023 when they released the original HomePod, Apple’s first dedicated smart hub. HomePod was not cheap, retailing at $349. HomePod Mini released in the fall of 2023 and at $99 had a much more reasonable price tag. Apple announced the following March that it would discontinue the original HomePod and focus on HomePod Mini. 

Anywhere that a HomePod can hear your voice, you can use it to give orders to your smart home devices. Linking multiple HomePods turns on handy features like intercom and whole-home music playback. Additionally, when you place two HomePods in the same room they will assign themselves left and right channels to give your music a surround-sound effect. 

Sticking with Apple’s smart hubs means you’ll also enjoy features that let your phone interact with the smart hubs effortlessly. For example, you can move a call from your iPhone to a HomePod, turning it into a speakerphone, or if you’re on your way out the door, move a song playing on your HomePod to your iPhone to continue listening while you’re on the go.

Lastly, HomePod ensures that your smart home ecosystem will be based around a product that adheres to Apple’s robust security and privacy policies. Apple claims that HomePods only begin listening to your voice when you specifically address Siri. Additionally, the company states that voice commands are “associated with a random identifier” as opposed to your AppleID.  

Best HomeKit smart home hub: Apple HomePod Mini

Apple

Using your iPhone is the bare-bones way to control your HomeKit-based smart home. But to unlock the full potential of Apple’s technology, the HomePod Mini is essential. In a package the size of a literal apple, you’ll get a versatile speaker with full sound and a receiver for Siri voice commands. With multiple Minis, you get an intercom and sound system that covers your entire home. 

Smart bulbs: Truly a bright Idea

Old school light bulbs were dead simple. Smart bulbs, though, have opened up a slew of possibilities in home lighting that didn’t exist in the incandescent days. 

The basic benefits of smart bulbs are obvious. If you forget to turn a light off before leaving your home, you can easily do it from your phone, wherever you are. You can also set the lights in your home to turn off after a certain time to ensure that they don’t needlessly burn energy

Smart bulbs also have features that can literally make your day-to-day life more pleasant. If you’ve upgraded to iOS 14, HomeKit’s Adaptive Lighting allows you to set varying color temperatures for your smart bulbs for different times of the day. Subtle touches like these can help you avoid the afternoon slump. That’s particularly useful to keep you awake through those dreaded 3 PM Zoom meetings. 

Best Apple HomeKit smart home connected light bulbs: Philips A19 Starter Kit

Philips

This Philips kit contains two bulbs with a hub, called a “Hue Bridge”. The bulbs connect to the hub, and the hub connects to HomeKit. This allows for control of your smart lighting locally, without the need for any commands to go to the cloud, improving speed without using wi-fi bandwidth. Each hub can also connect up to 50 bulbs. 

Keep your home locked up

Ever had that moment of panic? The one that happens when you left home 15 minutes ago and suddenly can’t remember whether you locked your door? If so, you’re a prime candidate for a smart lock. After all, smart home devices are supposed to not only make your home life easier, but also less stressful. 

Smart locks very easily relieve you of this common stressor. Security features are the key aspects to look at when shopping for a smart lock, and this means physical security and cybersecurity. 

Best Apple HomeKit smart home connected lock: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

August’s Wi-Fi Smart Lock allows you to use your original deadbolt. You won’t have to change out all of your keys. It has great features such as auto-locking when you leave and auto-unlocking as you approach. The lock can be used with old-school keys, your iPhone, Apple Watch, or an optional keypad. HomeKit integration also means you can control your lock remotely and automate locks and unlocks using Scenes.

A smarter eye on your home

In-home security cameras used to be something that most people only saw in the movies. Now, the relatively low cost of camera tech, and the fact that everybody has a network in their homes has made them much more accessible to the general public. 

Modern security cameras are relatively small, come in indoor and outdoor varieties, and connect wi-fi based. That allows you to control and access them from anywhere using a smartphone. Additionally, many cameras allow you to store footage (usually for a fee) and scroll back through days worth of video if you need to check on something after the fact. 

Since numerous wi-fi cameras have experienced problems with hacking, this new feature is quite valuable. Having your video be recorded via Apple Home and sent directly to iCloud means that it is encrypted from end-to-end and much, much less susceptible to hacking.

Best Apple HomeKit smart home security camera: eufy Security Solo IndoorCam

Eufy offers their indoor camera at a truly incredible price without skimping on essential features. The camera can store footage locally on an SD card, or in iCloud via HomeKit’s Secure Video feature. The Solo IndoorCam senses motion, but differentiates between pets and humans and only begins recording when “an event of interest” occurs. 

Help your utility bills cool off

Smart thermostats are one component of your smart home that can really help you to save money. Old school programmable thermostats have had the ability to set a seven-day schedule for years. However, if you forgot to turn that schedule off right before leaving for a long vacation, you’d be unnecessarily stuck with a big bill for heating or cooling an empty house. 

Smart thermostats, at a minimum allow you to adjust the temperature in your home from anywhere using a smartphone app. HomeKit-compatible thermostats pull that capability into the Apple Home app, increasing security and allowing temperature to become part of your pre-programmed Scenes.

Best Apple HomeKit smart home thermostat: Ecobee 3 lite

ecobee

The Ecobee 3 lite is simple to install, and easy to integrate into your HomeKit-enabled smart home. It is programmable to any schedule and works best in smaller homes or apartments. If you end up moving to a larger space with multiple rooms, Ecobee has remote sensors that will allow the thermostat to read the temperatures in multiple rooms and adjust heating and cooling accordingly. 

FAQs

While it has a smaller list of compatible devices than Alexa or Google Assistant, the Apple Homekit smart home has reached a point where there is more than enough choice to assemble a truly capable smart home. If you’re an Apple evangelist or someone who prefers robust security and privacy features, HomeKit is likely your best option of the three major smart home ecosystems. Plus that fabric on the HomePod is just so inviting.

Mobile App Development And Security: Q&A With Christopher White

As more enterprises look to make a digital transformation, mobile apps are frequently top of mind. To help businesses who are looking to create a high functioning digital workplace, Samsung Business Insights spoke with Christopher White, founder and CEO of The Sneakers Agency, whose focus is on digital strategy and product development. You can hear the full conversation in Episode 7 of the Business Disrupted podcast, How to Develop the Killer App for Business.

Q: What best practices would you recommend a company should adhere to when they start the app development process?

White: It’s really important not to underestimate your user and to do as much user research as you can when getting started. Everything your app does should be to make the life of the user better in some way.

Once you feel you understand your users and their problems, start to put together ideas on how you can solve those problems via a mobile experience. Start with some low fidelity sketches and concepts, show those to users and get feedback, and work your way to a medium fidelity design prototype and get more user feedback. Once you feel confident in your medium fidelity design prototype, then start to look at how you’re going to build the app and think about the full UI/UX design of the app. Once you’ve committed to building it, get it done and into the store so that you can get even more real-world feedback and iterate from there.

Q: What should businesses be thinking about in terms of security when developing a mobile app?

White: When it comes to mobile security there are three main areas of consideration to go over with your engineering team:

On-Device: Is there sensitive information like passwords or access keys that need to be stored securely on the device, so that if the app is shut down and restarted it’s immediately available? If so, what are the most secure options available for the given platform for storing that information? Are there different options for when the device is locked versus unlocked? Should you also be encrypting this information before storing it securely?

Over-the-Air (OTA): Do you have sensitive information like passwords or access keys that you need to send OTA? If so, how can you structure your OTA requests to prevent snooping on those requests? You might want to encrypt the information and send it via POST headers as an extra layer of security. Finally, you may want to consider using cert-pinning for an even further layer of secure OTA communication.

In-the-Cloud: Once data makes it to your servers and database “in the cloud,” what happens there? Where is the data stored and how is it accessed? For sensitive information that is stored in databases, should we be encrypting this information? Will this affect performance?

Q: How important is innovation versus mobile productivity?

White: Every app should first and foremost serve a useful purpose for its users and make their users the hero of the story they’re trying to take users through with their app/service. That said, it’s always a plus to delight users via unique but mobile-friendly UI/UX paradigms, or by making the best use of new frameworks and capabilities, if it makes sense for what your app is trying to achieve.

Listen to the Podcast

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Get more insights from Christopher White and ArgoDesign Chief Creative Technologist Jared Ficklin. Download Now

Q: How do you think blockchain could influence the future of mobile devices — either from a product design or application perspective?

White: Blockchain technology is interesting because it opens up new paradigms for how users interact with apps. For instance, you don’t necessarily need users to log in with usernames and passwords when using blockchains for storing information, since that’s a concept associated with centralized systems and databases.

Q: How do product design and an application design need to work together to provide a better overall user experience?

White: By bringing design and engineering together early in the process, you can work through tradeoffs and uncover edge cases that you might not have thought of independently, reducing overall product risk. It’s also good to have one person from each group given the authority to make the final call on all decisions that are required from their group. Weekly sprints where design and engineering are working together week-by-week can also help teams stay aligned.

Q: Are there any ethical design concerns you see with AI that mobile app designers should be thinking about?

White: I definitely think there are ethical concerns associated with AI. Every company should always do everything they can to put their users first. This starts with letting users know that they own their data — not the company. Further, companies should be doing everything in their power to let users know what they are doing with their data, who they are or are not sharing it with, and how they are using it to make automated decisions on a user’s behalf. Finally, AI researchers and developers should take great care that they’re not building bias into their algorithms. For instance, AI for matching users on a dating app should not favor one race over another.

White: Mobile devices and their capabilities and frameworks will constantly evolve. Businesses should see this as an opportunity to continuously improve mobile apps to further delight users. Companies that let their mobile technology stagnate are putting themselves at risk of being overtaken by existing competitors or new start-ups.

Always be speaking to your users, reading your app reviews, investigating competitors, and looking at industry trends to evolve your product roadmap and keep innovating.

For more great insights from Christopher White as well as Jared Ficklin, Partner, Chief Creative Technologist at ArgoDesign, tune into Samsung’s Business Disrupted podcast, Episode 7: How to Develop the Killer App for Business.

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