How to get started with an Apple smart home

Follow this guide to get your Siri-powered smart home up and running.

Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
2 min read

Designing your own smart-home setup may sound daunting, but it's much easier than you think. A "smart home" can have one connected device or several; it's entirely up to you. And fortunately, you've already figured out the toughest part -- which voice control platform to use as the main point of access between you and your smart products. 

Here's how to get started with an Apple HomeKit smart home today

Look inside this $1 million Apple smart home

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1. Do you have an iOS device?

Unlike Amazon's Alexa speakers and the Google Home, Apple's voice control platform, HomeKit, relies on the iOS-only Home app -- and Siri -- to control your connected devices. That functionality will expand when Apple's HomePod speaker hits stores in December. For now, though, you're limited to controlling your Apple devices on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Want to know if your iPhone or iPad is compatible? Check here.

2. An Apple TV makes things easier

You can use the Home app to control lights, window shades, and other devices anywhere you have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Siri voice control will only work when you're on your local Wi-Fi network -- unless you have an Apple TV. The Apple TV acts as a bridge, so you can say, "Siri, turn on the lights," even when you're away from home. 

August CEO Jason Johnson, whose Smart Lock works with HomeKit, also suggested the upcoming HomePod would also serve as a gateway for remote Siri access on Tuesday. Apple did not respond to our request for confirmation.

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Download the Home app on your iPhone and start adding your HomeKit accessories.

Chris Monroe/CNET

3. Buy a HomeKit-compatible device (or devices)

Think about the things you'd like to automate. Is it lights, locks, window shades, thermostats -- maybe all of the above? It's possible with HomeKit. I'd suggest starting with one HomeKit device and expanding from there as needed. Here's the current list of HomeKit products.

4. Install and configure your product(s)

You may need to download the specific app for each HomeKit device you use to perform the initial set up, but Apple's own Home app, included within iOS, provides a convenient place from which to control your HomeKit devices day-to-day.  The Home app houses everything you need to adjust most settings of the various HomeKit products. You can also use the Home app to create scenes like "I'm home!" which then control multiple devices simultaneously.

Note: Make sure to use the same iCloud Apple ID on your iOS device and your Apple TV. Remote Siri control won't work otherwise. 

5. Kick back and let Siri control your smart home

That's it. It's really that simple to get started with an Apple smart home. Stay tuned for updates, though. Apple's HomePod speaker is due out this December and its promised Siri and HomeKit integration will likely expand the functionality of Apple's smart home. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET