Apple welcomes new batch of HomeKit-compatible devices


Apple HomeKit
HomeKit is getting closer to helping you live in the future.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s list of HomeKit-compatible devices is finally starting to look impressive.

The company’s smarthome framework has been off to a bit of a slow start since Apple first unveiled it at its Worldwide Developers Conference last year, but this fall might be when it actually hits its stride. The list of available compatible devices is growing, according to an update on Apple’s website.

Logitech’s new universal remote commands your whole home


Logitech's Harmony Elite remote controls almost anything you point it at.
Logitech's Harmony Elite remote controls almost anything you point it at.
Photo: Logitech

The last universal remote we bought cost $20 from Walgreens. It was a big, ugly hunk of plastic, but it controlled the TV and VCR just fine.

These days, things have gotten a little more complicated. Now we have an HDTV, three set-top boxes, two game consoles and Sonos, as well a Nest thermostat and a bunch of Bluetooth-connected lightbulbs.

Logitech’s new Harmony Elite is a universal remote that controls all these devices and more. It’s price is listed at an eye-popping $350, but this is much more than a TV remote. It’s a smarthome hub for just about every connected device in your house, designed to give HomeKit and Siri a run for their money.

Fancy new smart lock can see who’s at your door


nucli smart lock by westinghouse
The Nucli smart lock by Westinghouse.
Photo: Westinghouse

Electrics giant Westinghouse is getting into the connected-home game, and its first offering is a smart lock that looks like it should be seeing if it can’t lock down a stabilizer in a Star Wars X-Wing.

The Nucli (which is pronounced “new-klee” and not “nuck-lee,” regardless of how your brain sees it) will offer a wealth of features to help you secure your domain.

SmartPlug turns your home into a modern-day Clapper


iHome SmartPlug HomeKit
You may not get a whole lot of use out of a single SmartPlug.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Home automation, specifically Apple’s HomeKit framework and its compatible accessories, is the latest Thing We’re Supposed to Get Excited About™. And it has a lot of promise for convenience, time-saving, and just generally feeling like you live in the future.

The first HomeKit-compatible smartplug is upon us, courtesy of iHome. The ISP5 SmartPlug is a $40 device that plugs into your wall outlet and lets you run whatever you plug into it from your iPhone, using either Siri or the companion app.

It does everything it says it will: You can set up rooms and zones, and control individual appliances or whole groups of them with a tap or quick voice command. It also lets you build “rules” to make your stuff turn on and off without your input. All of this is cool, but when you actually have one, you might struggle to think of useful ways to use it.

Custom ID chip is key to Apple’s HomeKit


Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Our house of tomorrow is going to have to wait.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple’s HomeKit connected devices are rolling out slower than expected, and one reason for this is that Apple reportedly requires that anyone making a third-party HomeKit device buy and use a special identity chip — a fact that caught many devs unawares.

“I know a lot of people who have been surprised by this requirement and had to re-spin boards for the chip,” said Michael Anderson, chief scientist of engineering firm PTR Group during a recent talk. “A lot of manufacturers are up in arms [about the] Apple silicon [that makes their] device more expensive.”