Controlling your Home from the Apple TV | iLounge Tips

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Controlling your Home from the Apple TV

When the fourth-generation Apple TV launched in the fall of 2015, we found the absence of direct support for controlling Apple HomeKit devices to be a conspicuous omission — especially considering the Apple TV was already designed to act as the hub for remote access to HomeKit accessories. In other words, HomeKit accessory commands were being processed through the set-top box, but there was no way to allow the user to participate using the Apple TV itself. It took another year to come to fruition, but tvOS 10 brought interactive HomeKit support to the set-top box last fall, opening up not only the ability to control HomeKit accessories via Siri commands, but also support for third-party tvOS apps to access the HomeKit framework.

Siri HomeKit commands can be used to adjust most accessories (e.g. “Turn off the living room lights”) and activate scenes (e.g. “Set the movie night scene” or even simply “It’s movie night”), and we’ve found they often work more quickly than issuing the same commands on the iPhone or Apple Watch. You can also set your thermostat (e.g. “Set the temperature to 24 degrees”) and inquire as to the status of various HomeKit sensors to check temperature and other information (e.g. “What is the temperature in the living room?” or even “Is there carbon monoxide in the basement?”).

The only major limitation is that you can’t control security devices such as door locks; these types of devices require authentication — usually via Touch ID or an Apple Watch with Wrist Detection enabled. And since the Apple TV doesn’t have any way of authenticating you, it will simply refuse to let you do anything with these accessories, directing you to issue the command on your iOS device instead. You can still check the status of your door locks, however (e.g. “Is the front door locked?”).

Third-party HomeKit apps have been a bit slower in appearing for tvOS, although options like Looming ($2) are starting to show up to provide additional options. In our opinion, we find it more practical to simply use Siri for the majority of HomeKit functions on the Apple TV, as it can be called up from anywhere rather than having to switch over to another app. That said, Looming offers support for the new category of HomeKit cameras, such as D-Link’s upcoming Omna 180, so we’ll probably have more to say about third-party HomeKit apps on tvOS as we start taking a look at these devices.

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