While many people know that the Apple Watch does a great job tracking health and fitness, it can do a lot more than just that. In fact, your Apple Watch is a great option for controlling a single smart home device or even an entire setup.
A number of different smart home devices feature their own apps for the Apple Watch. But if you have any smart home accessories compatible with Apple’s HomeKit protocol, control is even simpler using the Home app and Siri.
Using both features on the Apple Watch is a bit different than on an iPhone or iPad. Let’s take a look at how to get started.
Home, Sweet Home
First, you’ll need to already have the Home app installed and set up on an iPhone.
Since the Apple Watch can’t run apps without help from an iPhone yet, the watch version will mirror what’s already on your phone. So that means you won’t be able add devices, create and edit Scenes, or customize different automations. But that’s not a big downside as the watch truly shines when providing quick and simple interactions.
Opening the Home App
There are a few ways to open up the Home app on the Apple Watch. First, head to the app honeycomb by quick pressing the Digital Crown. You can also activate Siri with a long press of the same button and say “Open Home app.”
The easiest way to regularly access the app is to place a complication on a watch face. Available on most watch faces, simply pressing the Home icon will then automatically open up the app.
You can also customize Apple Watch faces through the companion app on the iPhone. A quick way to add the Home app complication to the face of your choice is a Force Touch on the phone screen. Select Customize and then select the space where you’d like the complication.
Especially if you’ve added the Home app to your Dock (which can be done by single clicking the Side button below the Digital Crown) the Home app should quickly appear after selecting it.
Give it a try:
- If you have a number of apps, try placing the Home app near the Clock icon on the honeycomb. Pressing the Digital Crown will automatically put the Clock app in the center of the screen when starting.
- The Home app complication is easier to select on certain watch faces. Modular is one of my favorites.
Using the App
While stripped down, the Home app’s Apple Watch layout is similar to what you’ll see in the iOS version of the app. First up are different Scenes, which are a group of user-customizable actions using different accessories.
You’ll notice that each HomeKit accessory is shown in the order they appear on the main Home tab of the iOS app. That layout is great if you’ve got just a few accessories, but not so fun if you’re running an entire house’s worth of smart home devices.
Give it a try:
- Use the Digital Crown to scroll through your entire list of devices. It’s very easy and faster than trying to use the watch’s screen.
With any HomeKit-enabled thermostat, like the Ecobee3, you can select a specific mode — cool, heat, or automatic — and also adjust the thermostat with the on-screen slider. You can also view the current temperature at the thermostat itself.
If you have a compatible Smart Lighting system, like the popular Philips Hue line, the first screen will allow you to adjust the light’s brightness or turn it completely on or off. Swipe left to view the second screen, where you can change the light to one of six pre-set colours.
For any power switches or locks, including the August Smart Lock, the slider can either activate or deactivate the accessories.
Security cameras are a very new addition to the HomeKit ecosystem. There is currently only one on the market: the D-Link Omna. With this camera installed, you can view a small thumbnail image from the camera and when it was captured. Just press on the image, and you’ll actually be able to see a live video stream, adjust the volume, and even activate the built-in microphone to talk to whoever is in the room — all from your watch!
As in the iOS app, the Apple Watch Home app will only show whether or not any sensors connected to your system have been triggered.
Siri Won’t Talk Back
In some respects, especially if you’re new to the smart home game, using Siri on the Apple Watch is an even easier way to control devices. That’s because you’re not tied to the limited functionality of the Home app on the watch.
Any Siri control phrases available on the iPhone can also be accomplished through the watch. If you’re new to the Apple Watch, there are two different ways to activate Siri. First, just press the Digital Crown to see the familiar screen. Also, any time your watch screen is active, just say “Hey Siri” to automatically activate the virtual assistant.
A great feature to activate if you’re going this route is the Activate on Wrist Raise feature. Turn it on by going to Settings > General > Wake Screen on the watch. Make sure the setting is on.
With that, just a quick flick of the wrist will turn on the Apple Watch’s screen. You can then communicate with Siri without pressing a single button.
Here’s a great example of Siri’s power on the watch. While you can change a Philips Hue light to one of six colors on the Home app, voice control allows virtually unlimited options like “Siri, change my lights to cerulean blue” without skipping a beat.
Just to note, unlike iOS devices and the Mac, Siri on the watch can’t talk back, so you’ll have to look on the screen to confirm everything. That could be a downside for some users, and I hope it’s something Apple will reconsider adding in the future. Even so, you can feel a haptic (a small tap on the wrist) whenever the answer to your query or command is shown.
Give it a try:
- Some helpful Siri controls you can try out on the Apple Watch include “Siri, turn all my lights on or off,” “Siri, what is the temperature at my home?” and “Siri, set my thermostat to 73 degrees.”
- When using Siri, make sure to speak clearly and slowly, especially if there is any noise around you.
Another nice plus of using the Home app on the Apple Watch is notifications.
Using the main iOS Home app, you can choose exactly what devices you’d like to receive notifications for. After choosing a device through the Home app, select Details. Then scroll down to Status and Notifications. If the device will provide notifications, make sure the Allow Notifications button is on.
For example, with notifications active, you can see exactly when someone locks or unlocks a door.
Give it a try:
- The notification will come through on the Apple Watch when you lock an iPhone.
- Hitting the Dismiss button will clear the notification off the watch screen.
- Any missed notifications can be found by swiping down from a watch face to see the Notification Center.
When to Use the Home App and Siri on iOS
While the Home app and Siri on the Apple Watch are great for quick and simple interactions with smart home devices, you’ll want to pull out an iPhone or iPad when you’re looking to do more advanced tasks.
Some of those include adding or deleting a HomeKit device, customizing automation, and building different HomeKit rooms, updating your device’s firmware, and more.
While still fairly new, more and more users are discovering the power of a wrist-worn Apple device.
The Home app on the iPhone or iPad is still probably the best way to control HomeKit-compatible devices when possible. But both the app and Siri on the Apple Watch are great if either iOS device is out of reach, or if you want to accomplish a simple task quickly. And the watch hardware offers a unique advantage to the HomeKit ecosystem not found with Amazon’s Alexa.
What HomeKit devices do you control with an Siri and the Home app on Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments.