Using your iPhone for a smart home remote just keeps getting better. Apple has constantly improved its HomeKit platform since the release of the Home app, adding new features, tweaks, and improvements to the system with each update. And iOS 14 continues this trend with a few changes to help make your home even smarter and easier to use.
While not a complete overhaul, the Home app in iOS 14 has a few interface changes to make it easier to navigate between rooms and gain insight into the status of your devices. Features like suggested automations and adaptive lighting can help power your smart home, and HomeKit Secure Video makes notifications smarter and more useful.
Feature 1: Navigate between rooms faster
Prior to iOS 14, accessing a specific room in your home required going to the “Rooms” tab, pressing a button to bring up a list of rooms, and then tapping the desired room. In iOS 14, the parts list has been integrated into the Home icon at the top left. Tap it to immediately display the parts list and allow you to jump directly to one.
Feature 2: Check the status of your devices
The Home app has always had a summary of the devices in your home, but before iOS 14 it was made up of a few lines of text followed by a disclosure triangle to bring up more information. In iOS 14, the text summary has been replaced with a horizontally scrolling icon list that shows a lot more information at a glance.
The new list may include things like lights, motions, and unresponsive devices. In addition, each room has its own status bar displaying information about that room. Finally, each of these icons can be long-pressed to bring up more information or allow you to directly control the devices.
Feature 3: Control Center Updates
Home controls were available in previous versions of iOS, but you could only access your top nine favorite devices and eight favorite scenes from a fixed box.
In iOS 14, the “Home” button in Control Center shows you all favorite devices and scenes, regardless of your number, in a vertical and horizontal scrolling list, respectively. Additionally, there is a drop-down menu where you can select rooms to see all of their fixtures and scenes.
If that wasn’t enough, the Control Center gains a new, higher-level section called Home Controls, which features a mix of devices and scenes that change throughout the day depending on when you use them.
Home Controls also includes a “Favorites” button which acts just like the normal “Home” control. That way, if you want the adaptive Home Controls section in Control Center, you still have access to Favorites and all of your rooms without having to also have “Home” control.
If you think the Home Controls section is taking up too much space, you can just use the solo “Home” command. And if you are using Home Controls, there is no point in keeping the “Home” control isolated as well. The “Home” control can be added or removed as before, while the new Home Controls section has a toggle switch at the top of the Control Center settings.
Feature 4: Suggested automations
Automations are a great way to power your smart home by turning the devices you control from your iPhone into devices that control themselves. However, figuring out which automations can help you can be difficult.
To help people find the power of automations, iOS 14 now suggests automations you might find useful. These automations will be presented both when adding a new accessory and in the settings menu of each device. Each suggested automation has an on / off switch next to it, allowing you to quickly turn it on or off.
Feature 5: HomeKit Secure Video Activity Zones
Introduced last year in iOS 13, HomeKit Secure Video is a great way to get many advanced smart camera features without having to upload unencrypted video from your home to an unknown server. These features include object detection, recorded video, and notifications.
With iOS 14, you can define activity zones in your camera view. Activity and object detection will then be limited to the selected area, allowing you to ensure that certain important events in the video are captured while filtering out noise. This will allow you, for example, to receive notifications when a car enters your driveway, but not when a car passes in the street.
Feature 6: Face recognition
In addition to activity zones, HomeKit Secure Video supports facial recognition. By tagging faces in the Home app and using the faces you set in the Photos app, your iPhone can not only notify you that a person has been detected, but who that person is. It gets even more powerful with smart doorbell notifications which can now tell you who’s at the door.
If you have an Apple TV, a live view of the video will appear after you ring the doorbell, and if you have a HomePod, the person’s name will be announced.
Feature 7: Adaptive lighting
Adaptive lighting automates the color temperature of your smart bulbs throughout the day. Warmer tones are used in the morning to make your day easier, cooler tones are used during the day to give you energy, and blue light is suppressed at night to help you relax. This feature is currently not available in beta releases and may require device manufacturers to update their firmware to support it.
Apple’s iOS 14 takes a lot of small steps to evolve and refine HomeKit and the Home app. By taking advantage of these new features, you can make your smart home even more useful, without sacrificing your privacy.
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