My smart home journey has taken me in an unexpected direction - I think I'm in love with HomeKit!

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
I've been wanting to take my (currently Alexa driven) smart home to the next level for a while, but there is just so much to consider these days. I have loads of smart devices, from different manufacturers, and about 7 Alexa Echo's around the house, but I'm really starting to tire of 'talking' to Alexa. I just find it incredibly annoying when she doesn't hear me properly and I get weird responses like "There are multiple devices called Office Lamp, which one do you want?" I mean, what the hell - I don't have a single device called 'Office lamp' or even an office, but even if I did how would I respond to that anyway if they all have the same name? There is also a delay in processing your voice request and responding that's starting to bug me, especially when I need to do a few things in succession, so I would like an app with quick access (and that certainly isn't the Alexa app, my god its terrible if you want to manually turn some lights off etc). But mostly I've hit a brick wall with Alexa routines - I just don't get why Amazon don't allow proper automation yet, they could steal the market, but I guess people talking less to Alexa isn’t something they want for some reason (I could guess a few).

Anyway, I looked first at Home Assistant and installed that on a spare Raspberry Pi, and...nope. I've got a full time job already, I don't need another one thanks (the time investment to benefit ratio doesn't do it for me, the whole point of home automation is to make things easier and free up time, not the opposite). I looked at Hubitat but had some similar concerns about the complexity, admittedly less so, and long-term commercial viability. Smart things seems to be on it way out, so not bothering with that either. Then I found Hoobs and Homebridge, which I installed on the Pi and makes all my non-HomeKit devices work in Homekit. Anyway, I spent the next few days messing with the Home app on my iPhone (and Siri shortcuts) and I am blown away. I had no idea what it could do now, and its so slick and well integrated into the Apple ecosystem that I much prefer using the home app+plus automatons than talking to Alexa most of the time now (Siri still sucks to talk to). I just can't think of anything I would ever want to do with Home Assistant and other similar system that I could do with HK. A quick swipe and its all done before Alexa would even wake up. That said, Alexa won't be going anywhere soon.

I realise this'll only applies to Apple peeps, but is anyone else with me here? Cant believe that I've had this in my hand all along and not bothered with it.

I’m also about to order a Starling Hub to get my Nest Cams working with HK, for unlocking my garage and turning outside lights on when they recognise my face. Anyone here tried the Starling hub?
 
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Inked

Distinguished Member
I've been wanting to take my (currently Alexa driven) smart home to the next level for a while, but there is just some much to consider these days. I have loads of smart devices, from different manufacturers, and about 7 Alexa Echo's around the house, but I'm really starting to tire of 'talking' to Alexa. I just find it incredibly annoying when she doesn't hear me properly and I get weird responses like "There are multiple devices called Office Lamp, which one do you want?" I mean, what the hell - I don't have a single device called 'Office lamp' or even an office, but even if I did how would I respond to that anyway if they all have the same name? There is also a delay in processing your voice request and responding that's starting to bug me, especially when I need to do a few things in succession, so I would like an app with quick access (and that certainly isn't the Alexa app, my god its terrible if you want to manually turn some lights off etc). But mostly I've hit a brick wall with Alexa routines - I just don't get why Amazon don't allow proper automation yet, they could steal the market, but I guess people talking less to Alexa isn’t something they want for some reason (I could guess a few).

Anyway, I looked first at Home Assistant and installed that on a spare Raspberry Pi, and...nope. I've got a full time job already, I don't need another one thanks (the time investment to benefit ratio doesn't do it for me, the whole point of home automation is to make things easier and free up time, not the opposite). I looked at Hubitat but had some similar concerns about the complexity, admittedly less so, and long-term commercial viability. Smart things seems to be on it way out, so not bothering with that either. Then I found Hoobs and Homebridge, which I installed on the Pi and makes all my non-HomeKit devices work in Homekit. Anyway, I spent the next few days messing with the Home app on my iPhone (and Siri shortcuts) and I am blown away. I had no idea what it could do now, and its so slick and well integrated into the Apple ecosystem that I much prefer using the home app+plus automatons than talking to Alexa most of the time now (Siri still sucks to talk to). I just can't think of anything I would ever want to do with Home Assistant and other similar system that I could do with HK. A quick swipe and its all done before Alexa would even wake up. That said, Alexa won't be going anywhere soon.

I realise this'll only applies to Apple peeps, but is anyone else with me here? Cant believe that I've had this in my hand all along and not bothered with it.

I’m also about to order a Starling Hub to get my Nest Cams working with HK, for unlocking my garage and turning outside lights on when they recognise my face. Anyone here tried the Starling hub?
Ditched Alexa for HomeKit /Siri a while back (have posted about doing so a couple of times in various threads).
Works much better in my experience too.
Also running Hoobs on my M1 Mac mini for my Ring alarm / cams, Nest thermostat, Harmony remotes, and Dyson purifier. All works great!

Can you not just use the nest cam plug-in for HOOBS rather than buying the starling hub?
 
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Autopilot

Distinguished Member
Ditched Alexa for HomeKit /Siri a while back (have posted about doing so a couple of times in various threads).
Works much better in my experience too.
Also running Hoobs on my M1 Mac mini for my Ring alarm / cams, Nest thermostat, Harmony remotes, and Dyson purifier. All works great!

Can you not just use the nest cam plug-in for HOOBS rather than buying the starling hub?

I tried to set it up, but I’ve not had any luck. But I switched from Hoobs to just using Homebridge a few days back so might try again.

I stopped using Hoobs as I had a few issues. Homebridge is just as easy to use, same kind of interface for plugs etc, in fact if anything it’s easier and it updated more often. I really don’t see the point of Hoobs now.

I’ll be running Alexa side-by-side for the foreseeable future, at least until Siri voice control is better.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
I tried to set it up, but I’ve not had any luck. But I switched from Hoobs to just using Homebridge a few days back so might try again.

I stopped using Hoobs as I had a few issues. Homebridge is just as easy to use, same kind of interface for plugs etc, in fact if anything it’s easier and it updated more often. I really don’t see the point of Hoobs now.

I’ll be running Alexa side-by-side for the foreseeable future, at least until Siri voice control is better.
Really surprised about finding Alexa better for voice control, I’ve found the opposite which is what led me to switching over
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
I’ve had no real problems with Alexa for voice control but Siri on my HomePod mini hears me better and responds faster. Agree on the whole ‘there are several devices with the name “orangery”, which one did you mean?’ irritation.

And the Home app is infinitely better than the Alexa one for automation.

I still don’t really get it, though. I’d like to create something for when we’re getting towards the children’s bedtime and heading upstairs, where a ‘Hey Siri’ voice command (or screen tap) turns off the TV downstairs, turns on their bedroom light and wakes our bedroom Apple TV and turns on the TV by powering on a HomeKit plug. But I don’t know where to start or whether it’s even possible. Is that the Home app, Shortcuts app, or both?

I also need to look into Homebridge or Hoobs for my Harmony remote, for starting activities, play/pause and powering off. Again, I’ve looked into it but never got further than that.

What Alexa does have over Siri/HomePod is BBC radio. Streaming from a phone isn’t good enough.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
I’ve had no real problems with Alexa for voice control but Siri on my HomePod mini hears me better and responds faster. Agree on the whole ‘there are several devices with the name “orangery”, which one did you mean?’ irritation.

And the Home app is infinitely better than the Alexa one for automation.

I still don’t really get it, though. I’d like to create something for when we’re getting towards the children’s bedtime and heading upstairs, where a ‘Hey Siri’ voice command (or screen tap) turns off the TV downstairs, turns on their bedroom light and wakes our bedroom Apple TV and turns on the TV by powering on a HomeKit plug. But I don’t know where to start or whether it’s even possible. Is that the Home app, Shortcuts app, or both?

I also need to look into Homebridge or Hoobs for my Harmony remote, for starting activities, play/pause and powering off. Again, I’ve looked into it but never got further than that.

What Alexa does have over Siri/HomePod is BBC radio. Streaming from a phone isn’t good enough.
Shortcuts.
We have a “going to bed” shortcut set up to turn off the TVs (harmony added via hoobs), turn off lights throughout the house, turn on lights in the bedroom, set the nest thermostat to a lower temp, turn off the Dyson purifier and close the garage door.
I also have an NFC tag stuck to the side of the bedside table which when tapped with my phone, turns off the remaining lights and sets the ring alarm.
 

Autopilot

Distinguished Member
I’ve had no real problems with Alexa for voice control but Siri on my HomePod mini hears me better and responds faster. Agree on the whole ‘there are several devices with the name “orangery”, which one did you mean?’ irritation.

And the Home app is infinitely better than the Alexa one for automation.

I still don’t really get it, though. I’d like to create something for when we’re getting towards the children’s bedtime and heading upstairs, where a ‘Hey Siri’ voice command (or screen tap) turns off the TV downstairs, turns on their bedroom light and wakes our bedroom Apple TV and turns on the TV by powering on a HomeKit plug. But I don’t know where to start or whether it’s even possible. Is that the Home app, Shortcuts app, or both?

I also need to look into Homebridge or Hoobs for my Harmony remote, for starting activities, play/pause and powering off. Again, I’ve looked into it but never got further than that.

What Alexa does have over Siri/HomePod is BBC radio. Streaming from a phone isn’t good enough.

That’s relatively straightforward. As Inked says, you could use shortcuts. But you should be able to create that as a scene or an automation.

That reminds me, need to look into NFC tags again...
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
Shortcuts.
We have a “going to bed” shortcut set up to turn off the TVs (harmony added via hoobs), turn off lights throughout the house, turn on lights in the bedroom, set the nest thermostat to a lower temp, turn off the Dyson purifier and close the garage door.

A similar one for us is what I'd really like. It would be turn off whatever Harmony activity is running, fade out the hall and living room lights to off over five minutes, and turn on the bedside lamp.

But I'm not sure fading to off is an option outside of the Hue app and in even if it is I don't know where to start. I've played with Home and Shortcuts and I'm utterly lost, more specifically with the latter. I suspect the time it would take me to work it out would never be made up by any time saved from having the shortcut.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
A similar one for us is what I'd really like. It would be turn off whatever Harmony activity is running, fade out the hall and living room lights to off over five minutes, and turn on the bedside lamp.

But I'm not sure fading to off is an option outside of the Hue app and in even if it is I don't know where to start. I've played with Home and Shortcuts and I'm utterly lost, more specifically with the latter. I suspect the time it would take me to work it out would never be made up by any time saved from having the shortcut.
I’m sure you could create a shortcut to dim the lights over a set period (someone may already have created one which you could just download, worth having a search online).

It may even be as simple as having the shortcut set the light at full brightness, use the script function to wait a set amount of seconds and then set the light again at a slightly lower level, and repeat the same two steps until it’s at zero.

We have motion sensors throughout all the hallways so we don’t bother including them in the bedtime routines as they are already set to come on dim after the kids bedtime so they don’t get disturbed and they turn off after a set amount of time.
 

Flashy

Well-known Member
I’m sure you could create a shortcut to dim the lights over a set period (someone may already have created one which you could just download, worth having a search online).

It may even be as simple as having the shortcut set the light at full brightness, use the script function to wait a set amount of seconds and then set the light again at a slightly lower level, and repeat the same two steps until it’s at zero.

We have motion sensors throughout all the hallways so we don’t bother including them in the bedtime routines as they are already set to come on dim after the kids bedtime so they don’t get disturbed and they turn off after a set amount of time.
Thanks. Just tried creating a test one to turn on a lamp at 100 per cent, then to dim to 50 per cent after five seconds, and then turn off after another five seconds, and it works. Would be a pain to set umpteen steps to more-gradually fade the light but the massive irritation is that for every step Siri pipes up with 'Still on it' or 'One sec'.

Think I'll give up. I'm trying to solve a problem that doesn't really exist, after all.
 

Markr123

Active Member
I too am sold on H/Kit. Pretty much the whole house is now controlled via an ATV and HOOBS running on a Pi. I use Hue for lighting in almost every room, iSmartgate for garage door control, Tado for heating/HW within a mix of Hue, EVE and ONVIS sensors for motion, door/window open, temp and humidity.
We very rarely touch a light switch or heating controls . House turns on/off to suit our routines and a humidity sensor controls a dehumidifier in our conservatory. Hoobs has been amazing in getting this all synced up. Particularly, Harmony Remote, TP Link smart plugs and non official Hue controllers.
Mostly it’s very stable, my non tech wife loves the simplicity. My only real criticisms are...

1. The lack of more native conditional control but the Eve Home app allows customisation not yet featured in the Home app.

2. The app sometimes requires a restart to prompt all the device status to update.

3. Dependency on BLE. Some sensors too far from the ATV are slow/unresponsive at times but that’s due to pushing the limits on range in the size of house.
 

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Autopilot

Distinguished Member
I too am sold on H/Kit. Pretty much the whole house is now controlled via an ATV and HOOBS running on a Pi. I use Hue for lighting in almost every room, iSmartgate for garage door control, Tado for heating/HW within a mix of Hue, EVE and ONVIS sensors for motion, door/window open, temp and humidity.
We very rarely touch a light switch or heating controls . House turns on/off to suit our routines and a humidity sensor controls a dehumidifier in our conservatory. Hoobs has been amazing in getting this all synced up. Particularly, Harmony Remote, TP Link smart plugs and non official Hue controllers.
Mostly it’s very stable, my non tech wife loves the simplicity. My only real criticisms are...

1. The lack of more native conditional control but the Eve Home app allows customisation not yet featured in the Home app.

2. The app sometimes requires a restart to prompt all the device status to update.

3. Dependency on BLE. Some sensors too far from the ATV are slow/unresponsive at times but that’s due to pushing the limits on range in the size of house.

Ref point 2, I found this and it’s one of the reasons I switched from Hoobs to plain HB, which works better. I highly recommend anyone does this, with the new UI it’s virtually identical in function. Also are you running Hoobs/HB on a pi connected to WiFi or hardwired to the router? Wired makes a massive difference to stability and update speeds.
 

Markr123

Active Member
Ref point 2, I found this and it’s one of the reasons I switched from Hoobs to plain HB, which works better. I highly recommend anyone does this, with the new UI it’s virtually identical in function. Also are you running Hoobs/HB on a pi connected to WiFi or hardwired to the router? Wired makes a massive difference to stability and update speeds.

Cheers for the advice. I will revisit HB on a secondary device or VM.
All my key devices inc ATV, HOOBS etc are connect via Ethernet.
I think the delay is merely down to the polling time of all devices. I have x3 Hue hubs serving different parts of the house (downstairs, upstairs and garden/garage). The downstairs hub alone has x31 lights and x14 switches/sensors.
 

Markr123

Active Member
Furthermore, I agree with @Autopilot I have circa x6 Echo devices doted around the house. I found the routines and automation so very clunky back in the day. Mostly used for the odd commands like kitchen timers, starting a Sonos playlist in the associated room or my wife turning on a fan / heated blanket before bed.

I’ve not really experimented nor needed to use Siri Shortcuts to date. This is also a blessing as unlike the Home App, changes do not replicate (at all) across our iPhones, iPads etc.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
I find the Apple TV to be the worst of my hubs and have them turned off for hub duty. HomePods seem to work far better.

No issues with shortcut syncing, but all devices are logged into the same iCloud.
 

Markr123

Active Member
I find the Apple TV to be the worst of my hubs and have them turned off for hub duty. HomePods seem to work far better.

No issues with shortcut syncing, but all devices are logged into the same iCloud.

Interesting. I had pondered adding a HomePod mini but as the ATV 4K is connected via Ethernet, I thought this may likely give greater reliability than a HomePod mini that is wifi only. I do however appreciate the HP mini had newer tech than an ATV and the reliance on WiFi comms is probably extremely low anyway. Interesting point all the same. Thanks.
My iPad is a backup HK device. When placed in certain locations in the house, it clearly “helps” as one of my Eve door sensors (furthest away from the ATV) behaves consistently better when the iPad is nearer. The iPad must be serving as a relay rather than just failover device.
 

Markr123

Active Member
No issues with shortcut syncing, but all devices are logged into the same iCloud.

Ah, we have multiple iCloud accounts and would be a royal pain trying to maintain across several devices. I love the fact if I make a change to the home app, my wife sees the same instantly on her iPhone /iPad.
I’ve never seen any other home automation app (Home Assistant / Smartthings... the list goes on) that even comes close the easy and layout of Apple home app. Just wish Apple would push it that little bit further. I hope the next iteration of iOS does.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
Interesting. I had pondered adding a HomePod mini but as the ATV 4K is connected via Ethernet, I thought this may likely give greater reliability than a HomePod mini that is wifi only. I do however appreciate the HP mini had newer tech than an ATV and the reliance on WiFi comms is probably extremely low anyway. Interesting point all the same. Thanks.
My iPad is a backup HK device. When placed in certain locations in the house, it clearly “helps” as one of my Eve door sensors (furthest away from the ATV) behaves consistently better when the iPad is nearer. The iPad must be serving as a relay rather than just failover device.
My Apple TV’s are both connected via Ethernet too, but both the HomePods and minis work better.
I’ve never bothered using any of our iPads as hubs as we already have so many other hubs in the house
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
Ah, we have multiple iCloud accounts and would be a royal pain trying to maintain across several devices. I love the fact if I make a change to the home app, my wife sees the same instantly on her iPhone /iPad.
I’ve never seen any other home automation app (Home Assistant / Smartthings... the list goes on) that even comes close the easy and layout of Apple home app. Just wish Apple would push it that little bit further. I hope the next iteration of iOS does.
We only use one due to photo syncing, really wish Apple would allow proper sharing of photos across accounts and then we would separate our accounts out.
 

Venger2005

Standard Member
I find the Apple TV to be the worst of my hubs and have them turned off for hub duty. HomePods seem to work far better.

No issues with shortcut syncing, but all devices are logged into the same iCloud.
Same experience. This is exactly why I bought my HomePod as it is infinitely better a as a home hub. All my “No response” issues went away following this.
 

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