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What is HomeKit?

Catch up on the basics of Apple's smart home platform.

2 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

If you see a "HomeKit compatible" label on the packaging of a smart-home device, that means you can control it with your iPhone or iPad. HomeKit is Apple's smart-home software. It works in the background on modern Apple devices and allows you to control your connected lightbulbs, locks and thermostats without jumping to a different app for each one.

Instead of tangling with different apps for your connected Philips bulbs and your August smart locks, you can control all of your HomeKit-compatible devices with a single iOS app -- Apple's Home app. You can set up rules so that one device talks to another -- your lights will turn on when you unlock your door. You can also control and check on your devices with a spoken command to Apple's digital assistant, Siri

HomeKit also helps device makers design products to work with an iOS device. Think of HomeKit as a set of design rules. Third parties can use these rules to make products for HomeKit that can work seamlessly with all other HomeKit devices -- even ones made by other companies.

Head here for a full list of HomeKit compatible products. Highlights include:

The upcoming Apple HomePod will supposedly allow you to control HomeKit devices without even interacting with your phone. The $350 HomePod will be functionally similar to the Amazon Echo -- an always-listening device that popularized the idea of a smart speaker. Head here for a guide to getting started with HomeKit