Apple TV required for full smart-home Siri experienceWant to control your living room lights with Siri when away from home? You'll need an Apple TV box and Lutron's new HomeKit hub. Bridget Carey explains how Apple's smart-home system can get complicated.
Apple Siri can control your whole life, but it's a bit complicated. I'm Bridget Carey, this is your cNet Update. Your iPhone can be your smart home control center. You can give Siri commands to turn the lights on and off when you're away from home But to do that, you need an Apple TV set-top box. That's right, you're iPhone or iPad will not do it alone. Apple's TV box is required to control smart home gadgets with Siri voice commands when you're away from home. I know, that's a lot of ifs and whens. If you do not have an apple TV, the only way to control home gadgets with your voice is if your phone is connected to your homes wi-fi network. But only talking to Siri from home just isn't as magical. Wouldn't you say? Smart home technology can be a headache to understand, setup, and think. Generally speaking, each of your smart home gadgets, such as smart switches, lights, or thermostats all can be controlled with an app. But, Apple wanted to tie all these different gadgets under one standard it calls HomeKit. If the gadget is HomeKit compatible, it responds to voice commands with Siri. But you may find the experience messy in these early days. As an example, let's look to the first product that works with Siri controls and HomeKit. The Caseta starter kit costs $230, and it's programmed to Especially for working with Siri. In our tests, we found it easy to give voice commands to change the lights. That is, it was easy on the wi-fi home network. Doing this off the home network with Apple TV was a whole other story. Senior Editor Megan Willerton found that the Apple TV connection was acting wonky and kept quitting on her during her review and she was troubleshooting it with Apple as of this report. When you are installing any smart home device you might as well prepare yourself to be on the phone with tech support. That goes for any product. It comes with the territory of being an early adopter. Keep in mind, if all else fails you can just control Lutron with its own app. Everything I'm talking about here comes down to the power of controlling it with Siri Voice Commands And for controlling things on the Apple Watch. It's hard to understand why Apple would require its Apple TV set top to make these work when you're away from home, but maybe the company will address more of this at its big conference on Monday. And as for the Apple watch, the company announced that in two weeks, you'll be able to purchase one in stores. Before you had to order online to get it. The watch is also expanding sales to seven more countries. That's all That's all for this tech news update, but if you're still curious about the Lutron Homekit System we have a full review up on cnet.com, and mark your calendar to follow our live coverage of Apple's event on Monday. It starts at 10 AM Pacific, 1 PM Eastern and we should learn more about new software for iPhones and MAC computers. Coming to you from our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey. [MUSIC]