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Apple’s HomeKit is some really exciting technology. First introduced with iOS8 iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you'll want to upgrade it to iOS 8 as soon as possible. Here's why. Read More , it allows you to control compatible Smart Home devices from your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

But the amount of HomeKit compatible gear has always been somewhat disappointing. A year or so later, only a handful of devices Future Proofing Your Smart Home for Apple HomeKit Compatibility Future Proofing Your Smart Home for Apple HomeKit Compatibility Read More have been released, and manufacturer interest seems to be waning.

Or, perhaps not. Philips has finally joined the fray. The Dutch electronics giant has finally gotten round to integrating HomeKit into their Hue lighting platform Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue If you can afford the initial expenditure, you won't find a better-supported and more user-friendly smart lighting system on the market. Read More , and it’s amazing. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started With Hue and HomeKit

The Philips Hue lighting system is no ordinary lighting system. It’s centered around a range of powerful, energy efficient LED lightbulbs. Not only do these sip significantly less energy than traditional halogen lightbulbs, but they can even change shade, temperature, and color on demand.

huehk-starter

These are connected to a “bridge”. This is essentially a hockey-puck shaped box, which connects to your network over Ethernet, and allows you to remotely control as many as 50 bulbs via a mobile application, available for iOS and Android.

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The Philips Hue family has been on the market since 2012. If you bought a starter kit between then and now, I’ve got some bad news for you. It’s almost certainly not compatible with Apple HomeKit. For that, you’re going to need to buy a new bridge. Here, you’ve got two options.

You can either buy a brand-new Philips Hue starter kit, which includes a HomeKit-compatible bridge, as well as three additional lightbulbs. That’ll set you back around $200, which is a lot considering that there are significantly cheaper alternatives to Hue Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It The Philips Hue system is leading the charge when it comes to smart lighting, but there are some worthy alternatives. We've picked three that all offer the same basic feature set and hackability. Read More .

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit, 3 A19 bulbs and a Bridge, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit, 3 A19 bulbs and a Bridge, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (hub required and included, Alexa device sold separately) Buy Now At Amazon $208.84

Alternatively, if you’re happy to wait until November 1st 2015, you can purchase one directly from Philips for $40. This is a third-off from the ordinary price of $60, although don’t expect this offer to last. The price shoots back up at the end of the year.

If you can’t be bothered buying a new bridge, you can always configure Hue to work with Arduino How to Control Philips Hue Lights from an Arduino (and Add a Motion Sensor) How to Control Philips Hue Lights from an Arduino (and Add a Motion Sensor) Today I'll be showing you how to control your Hue lights from an Arduino - then adding a simple motion sensor. Read More .

Once you’re all set up, you’re ready to control your lighting from Siri. As you’ve probably imagined, there are a few ways to control Hue from your iPhone.

Hue In Your iWorld

First, there’s the HomeKit way. This lets you control Hue, simply by speaking into Siri. This works much as you’d expect. Turning off the lights is as simple as saying “Siri, turn off the lights”.

HomeKit also lets you control the individual attributes of each bulb, and allows you to define the brightness levels and color temperatures. You can even create pre-defined settings, which can be activated through Siri. For example, you could say “Siri, reading mode” (or, as in their commercial, “play time”), at which point, the lights would dim accordingly.

HomeKit also lets you combine Philips Hue with other compatible devices. For example, you could say “Siri, I’m going to bed”. At which point, HomeKit would turn off your lights, and use your Nest thermostat to turn up the heat. Cool, right?

There are also a number of applications that let you control Philips Hue, both third-party and official.

If you want to set up Hue with Siri, you’ll need to download the official Philips Hue App (free), available for iPhone and iPad. But beyond HomeKit, it has some incredible features that are worth a look.

Not only does it allow you to set up an alarm, which’ll wake you up by gradually increasing your room’s illumination, it also allows you to control your lighting based on your location. So, if you’re nearby your house, it’ll know to turn the lights on. Likewise, if you’re walking away from your home, you can configure it to turn the lights off, in order to save energy.

 

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It’s worth pointing out that there’s a Philips Hue app for Android, although this obviously doesn’t support HomeKit.

In addition, there are a number of excellent, yet unofficial third-party applications which take advantage of HomeKit to control Philips Hue. One of the most interesting is Home ($14.99), by Matthias Hochgatter.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, this app is seriously powerful, and allows you to control each connected HomeKit device (including Philips Hue) with an obsessive amount of detail.

huehk-home-app

Each bulb can be configured with startling precision, in order to have the right brightness, saturation, and hue levels. It also allows you to create “rooms”, which group HomeKit devices based upon placement, as well as scenes and triggers.

And because it’s built around HomeKit, you can use it with Siri. In this video, iMore’s managing editor Serenity Caldwell shows you how it’s done (skip to 1:40):

Straight Outta Star Trek

To understand why this is so exciting, you just have to imagine what it’d be like to walk into your home and say:

“Siri, turn the lights on”

It’s enough to convince you that you’re on the Starship Enterprise. But you’re not. You’re just using some off-the-shelf technology, paired with Apple’s HomeKit. What a time to be alive.

But will this be enough to convince you to get a Philips Hue system? I want to hear about it. Leave me a comment below, and we’ll chat.

Image Credit: RELAX-APP-SCREEN by Philips Communications via Flickr

  1. Gerard
    August 9, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    No date on this post :-/

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