Table of Contents
Technology has left its mark too deeply in our lives that from getting up in the morning to going back to sleep, everything revolves around the tech products. Those tech products include the smart devices in the house (smart speaker to digital assistant) that was an extremely exciting journey in itself. But was it secure enough to back myself with this tech giant’s product?
Yeah!! I’m talking about Microsoft’s Cortana that comes with extraordinary features & capability when it comes to control smart products around your house. However, choosing this product (with security aspect) over Google, Apple, or Amazon is a bit too much. Maybe one of the reasons behind this selection is due to utmost simplest availability or the compatibility by which I could control almost every smart product in my home.
Everything was going as smoothly as one could have imagined and that’s when the tech giant decided to make Cortana available for commercial customers’ needs. Now this change just hit me hard as I had to shift my attention on some other alternative like Amazon’s Alexa but would that be the right choice one could go for?
Luckily, around the same time I heard about this Apple’s HomePod Mini that took me by surprise because of its privacy aspect. Yeah!! Times when privacy can only be considered as a joke, Apple is offering something that comes with a home assistant that is fully privacy-oriented. An intelligent assistant that has the capability to control your smart home, the Apple HomePod Mini does come with a reasonable price as well. And thanks to the Apple Home app, everything is pretty much easier to access & control from the same place. On the iOS devices, we can easily control the device management because of the Home app to keep everything under control.
Extend Apple’s Home Automation Through Open Sources. Can We?
From office to home, every one of those smart products in the premises can be easily controlled with Apple’s Home app. And because of the Apple Home app only, the whole home automation hardware didn’t take much of the time to set up. Thanks to Apple’s Home app’s QR-based support, it’s always easy to add devices to the Home & manage all of them from one place. Also, the support system from the Home app isn’t limited to the QR-based enrolment scheme, but the Netatmo thermostat generates HomeKit codes as well. The iPhone camera is helpful while trying to control smart products through the Home app. All you need to do is launch the iPhone Camera app & the OCR tool (in-build in Home app) which helps you decode the codes & set up hardware successfully.
And after the successful set up of moving every smart hardware on Home app, the smart lights started working. Every possible smart product that had slightest chance of being connected to the digital assistant & could be controlled by the same is now fully controllable with the Apple’s Home app. Having said that, there are other devices also that aren’t compatible with the Home app as they need support from either Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant. In this scenario, where you aren’t ready to change the remote control, is there any way to build a bridge or extend Apple’s Home automation to other not-compatible hardware as well?
This is where the Homebridge open source HomeKit extension comes to the rescue that helps other devices to connect with the Home app. The Homebridge extension has been designed to support devices other than Apple so that anything can be controlled through the Home app only. All those smart home devices that cannot be supported through the apple HomeKit, Homebridge helps people to integrate those devices.
Apple’s HomeKit is the bridge between all those smart devices that aren’t directly compatible with the HomeKit APIs. So this feature brings full support to them and helps you connect those not-compatible smart devices easily. For example, when you are trying to connect Hue light bulbs to the Home app, you aren’t controlling every one of those bulbs (in your premises) individually. What’s happening is that you have been connected to the Hue bridge that is constantly connected with the IP network to control every bulb in that particular place.
Which means when you will be using the Homebridge extension, it will also work through the HomeKit bridge API network. It will simply bring more than 2000 plugins to your door so that you can connect all those smart devices to the Home app easily. Obviously there would be a bit of limitations on the overall functionality, however, you will have more control over the previously-unsupported areas, that too in HomeKit automations as well.
Now when it comes to downloading & accessing the Homebridge, it would be a cakewalk for the user. Because of the compatibility it brings for the user (from WindowsOS to macOS & Linux), every one of those platforms fully supports the Homebridge. However, there are a few prerequisites that need to be taken care of before using the app. The prerequisite will be, installing a node.js application. Once installed, sign in as an administrator & download the most latest version of the node. Post the successful downloading, please make sure that you have both npm (UI & server) available. After confirming the same, use the built-in tools in the service & set this up on your Windows operating system.
Now considering the fact that you were able to successfully set up the Homebridge on your Windows PC, now is the time to start accessing it. Homebridge can be used in different ways including the web based admin tool which we recommend you must go with. There can be many reasons one should go with the admin based tool but what made me think is the search I can perform to look for files as well as plugin support. Since you will be able to use the built-in editor, you can make changes in the user interface as well as the widgets on the homepage or the front screen.
After landing onto the homepage of the Homebridge app, your first reaction would be to access the QR code mentioned there to connect Homebridge app to the Home set up. Once the connection has been established successfully, you can start adding the plugins for different devices that you want to take control of from your device. Please know that Homebridge’s home screen will help you manage or control your smart devices that are connected to the app. The whole plugin functionality is the USP of the Homebridge extension as it has its own defined APIs that help users connect devices to apple HomeKit as well as Home app.
Since the plugin section is so vast, users will have many smart devices they can connect through the Homebridge. What happens is that the tool starts detecting your hardware & using an API key to connect so that the user will have every possible control on the connected smart device. From brightness level to switching the light on & off, everything is possible through your iOS device (on Home app). After you have successfully created the plugins or connectem them successfully, the connected devices will display in the Home app automatically. Now that everything has come into place, you can easily control all the devices on the Home app via Siri. Imagine a list of smart devices you have you aren;t able to connect to Home because of some unknown connectivity issues, you can easily control them via Homebridge. Every one of your devices are compatible with the Homebridge that’s been working out as a bridge to fill the gap easily.
Usually, Apple’s Home Automation is already something to talk about and there we have it’s alternatives as well (Google & Amazon). Though they are easily accessible & available, compatibility brings a limitation that needs to be put aside. So now, thanks to the Homebridge & HomeKit automation, those gaps can be easily filled between Apple’s Home Automation & other tech giants (Amazon & Google). And to talk about those plugins, the developers constantly & regularly work on them to either make them better by adding new features or supporting new devices. And another aspect we all get concerned about is the security which needs to be given the same or more weightage as we provide to device compatibility or support.
You can be rest assured of the security aspect as the perfect combination of the Apple’s Home Automation along with Siri & HomePod is already more secure than ever. Everyone knows that Apple always gives security a topnotch priority, however, sometimes things go haywire & everything is in question. Having said that, if we talk about accessing & connecting the smart devices through Apple’s Home Automation along with Homebridge that will be controlled by Siri, I think I can be rest assured that my security won’t get breached.
Open Source Helps You Extend Apple’s Home Automation
Yeah!! Thanks to those developers or the team that works constantly towards making the whole Apple’s HomeKit Automation experience better than ever. Also, the Homebridge extension has just extended the support on those devices that aren’t getting connected to the Apple’s Home app because of compatibility issues. Now you can easily use the plugin functionality under Homebridge and start extending Apple’ Home Automation to more devices seamlessly. Also, you will be able to control all those connected smart devices through the Home app or Siri.