(Pocket-lint) - Apple's HomeKit has come a long way in the last year or two, from an undernourished platform to a really impressive smart home option.
The Californian giant has been using its trademark skill for reading the way the wind's blowing, and has been investing in the system and steadily redesigning it, while signing up key partnerships and collaborations to get closer to being on a par with Amazon's Alexa and Google Home.
Well, it's certainly working — HomeKit is as good as it's ever been, and can handle pretty much any of the tasks, requests and routines you're likely to want to challenge it with.
So, if you're sitting at home thinking about how to expand your HomeKit repertoire, you might be on the lookout for some inspiration as to what you should actually use it for. We've selected some of the HomeKit accessories you might like to consider, across a few different categories, to get you started on the road to full smart home nirvana.
Our guide to the best Apple HomeKit gear around
Smart lighting - Philips Hue
One of the most immediate ways to feel as if your home has become smarter is to inject it with some smart lightbulbs. By switching out your existing bulbs for smart equivalents, you'll be able to set routines, opt for funky colour combinations and really personalise your space.
Philips Hue is the pick of the pack in the smart lighting space. It's been around forever, and is constantly refining its systems and offers, and, of course, it's fully compatible with HomeKit. If you get a Hue Bridge to act as a hub for your bulbs, you'll be able to control them all via Siri and free yourself from ever needing to touch a light switch again.
Smart plug - Ikea Smart Plug
Lighting is one thing, but you're unlikely to fancy replacing every electrical appliance in your house to replace them with more expensive, smart versions. Thankfully, smart plugs are more common than ever, to help you make what was once dumb distinctly smart.
Our favourite smart plug is Ikea's — like so many of the Swedish giant's products, it's reasonably priced and straightforward. Using a bridge to connect your various plugs with HomeKit, you'll then get total control of any and all electronics you use them with. That means you could turn on the coffee machine without leaving bed, set the fan going in a heatwave or heat up an electric blanket if it's midwinter. The world will be your oyster.
Security camera - Arlo Pro 2
Whether you want to keep an eye on the indoors of your house, or watch over your front garden, backyard or wherever else, another great facet of modern smart home setups is the ability to do so using remote cameras.
HomeKit integration hasn't yet spread through the entire market, but Arlo has updated its cameras' firmware to include the feature, a welcome addition. The Arlo Pro 2 is a great camera that's no longer Arlo's top of the line variant but is reasonably affordable and really high-powered. It's easily installed and will act as a great deterrent against burglars. Plus you'll have a peace-of-mind safety blanket whenever you need it.
Smart button - Eve Button
As you fill your home up with more connected tech, and your Home app becomes more and more replete with options, you might find that physical buttons and switches start to have a ring of nostalgia to them — the good old days.
Thankfully there are plenty of smart buttons out there to help you control your smart home cleverly and in personalised ways. Our pick of the bunch is the Eve Button, which has full HomeKit connectivity. Better than a normal switch, you can actually have three commands mapped to each button — one for a tap, another for a double-tap, and a third for a long press.
Smart Thermostat - Tado Smart Thermostat
Another essential cog in any smoothly running smart home is its heating. If you can hook your heating into a smart system, you'll immediately gain a massive degree of control over the running of your flat or house, and that control can really easily translate into savings on your bills.
One of our favourite smart thermostats is from Tado and is fully HomeKit compatible. It's a tidy, user-friendly system that gives you a bunch of control over how your home operates and lets you make sure that it's at the ideal temperature when you want it to be. Plus, the newest version, V3+, brings air quality measurements into the mix as well.
Smart lock - August Smart Lock Pro
Another way to maximise the feeling that you're living more futuristically than others is to get yourself a smart lock — a lock that lets you escape the bygone days of losing your keys and getting locked out. Heck, you'll probably end up not even having any keys.
We like August's Smart Lock because it's a simple and straightforward example of the best bits of a smart lock. It's easy to set up, and actually leaves your lock looking normal from the outside, letting you carry on using existing keys if helpful. With a paired sensor, though, you'll also be able to tell when the door is open or unlocked, and of course, be able to auto-unlock it when you're near to allow quick and easy returns home. It also supports all of Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, which is a bit of a rarity.
Multi-room sound - Sonos
The cherry on the cake, as far as your connected home goes, could well be music. The feeling of walking around your home, hearing superbly reproduced sound all around you, regardless of the room, is pretty unmatchable. Let alone when you expand into different playlists for different spaces if you're hosting a party, or the ability to only use the speakers you want to.
For our money, Sonos leads the field for multi-room sound. Its system is simple, but its speakers are all fabulous. It doesn't come cheap, but once you have more than one of their devices in play you'll be won over. Whether it's a TV surround sound system that doubles up as a quality hi-fi or a kitchen sound system that can help you unwind, Sonos is a winner for any smart home.