Needs a lot of work, more products and better tech support
Apple HomeKit, Google Home or Amazon Alexa?
There wasn't a review on the Apple home automation system so I thought I'd share my experience. I've been working with the various components of the HomeKit system for a little over a year. It made sense to me to go with Apple as my wife and I have iPhones and iPads.
Unfortunately once you're committed to the Apple brand you are faced with a very limited (and expensive) range of compatible products due to their strict security code. I thought this was ideal for the security of my network but working in such a tightly controlled system has huge disadvantages.
Aside from a newly released baby monitor, there is only one security camera compatible with HomeKit, the D-Link Omna 180 ($250 each). Whilst this is an okay camera it has quite a few downsides. It has an internal micro SD card with no ability to record and store recordings offsite either on your phone or in the cloud. This means if someone steals the camera they also have the footage of them stealing it. This camera also has constant problems connecting to the HomeKit hub when you're trying to view the cameras whilst away from the home. Internet forums at D-Link and Apple are filled with people reporting this problem without an answer from either company. Multiple calls made by myself to tech support of both companies resulted in D-Link saying it was an Apple issue and not their problem, and two different Apple phone technicians knew nothing about the Homekit system. I had to explain to the Apple techs how the HomeKit works.
The HomeKit works by using a hub connected to your modem/router. An iPad left at home can be used as the hub connected to your wifi but after the problems I was having I thought I'd get a dedicated hub in the form of an Apple TV. This way I could have it directly wired to the router with a Cat 6 network cable and my network would be more stable. That didn't work and I get the same connection issues. The Apple TV had a software update at one stage and I had to reconnect everything again which was a nightmare. The newly released Apple HomePod speaker works as the hub if you want to shell out an extra $500. I don't know if this would improve the HomeKit and I'm hesitant to spend the money to find out.
I have the Philips Hue light system (around a dozen various globes/lightstrips). At the time I was setting up they were the only lights that would work with HomeKit but the great thing is they work as standalone or with Google Home or Amazon Alexa. If in the future I decide to change brands I can take these lights across with me. The lights work well as long as the Hub stays connected.
There are a few more products that have been added to the HomeKit range this year such as various sensors and security locks but they are outrageously expensive and I really don't know if I want to commit to Apple anymore. Amazon Alexa and Google Home have a far greater catalogue of products and I am regretting sticking with Apple due to their weak commitment to home automation and lack of tech support.
Siri is still the worst voice activated product for the Australian accent. "Hey Siri... Lights off" has been interpreted as "What's up" several times.
The home app is very neat and (when connected) works great. It shows all of your connected products on one neat page that is easy to understand and control.
If I had my time again i wouldn't go with Apple. They have the reputation of providing products that are user friendly and work flawlessly but they have really dropped the ball on this one.
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