Apple's HomeKit app Home is simple and easy to use, but it also comes with a load of hidden features that you might not, on the surface, realise are available.

We've put together a number of tips, to enable you to get the most from the Apple backed service that supports hundreds of different smart home devices from companies like Elgato and Philips.

Apple's HomeKit ecosystem works really well with just an iOS device like an iPhone or and iPad, but to really make the most of Apple's smart home offering and the hundreds of accessories that go with it, you can add an Apple TV into the mix.

Adding an Apple TV enables you to not only remotely access your HomeKit enabled accessories, but also to turn on automation enabling your home to do things given a set of rules and instructions even when you aren't there.

How to connect your Apple TV to your HomeKit installation

Go to your Apple TV. Turn it on. Open settings. Click on iCloud. Make sure you are logged in to your iCloud account. You might need to log out and log back in again.

There's no dedicated Home app or details on the Apple TV so it all works in the background. If it has worked, you'll be able to add an automation to your scenes via the Home app on your iPhone.

How to create a HomeKit automation

You can control accessories and run scenes automatically by time of day, your location, or another accessory with an Apple TV running as your home hub. Make sure the Apple TV is running the latest software and that it is connected to your home Wi-Fi network.

To create a HomeKit automation, open the Home app on your iPhone, tap the Automation tab, then tap Create new Automation. Choose when you want the automation to occur.

There are four options available: Automation based on changes to your location, the time of day, when an accessory is controlled, and if a sensor detects something.

Select scenes and accessories to automate. Then tap Next. Finally verify the accessories and scenes you want. You can touch and hold an accessory or scene to adjust its settings. To finish, tap Done.

Turn off or delete an automation

If you've decided you don't want the automation you've created, you can delete it. Open the Home app and tap the Automation tab. Tap the automation. Turn off Enable This Automation or tap Delete Automation. You can also swipe left over the automation and tap Delete. Done.

Use your iPad as a replacement Apple TV

You don't actually need an Apple TV to get automations working with your HomeKit devices. The only catch, is that the iPad needs to be in the house on the same Wi-Fi network as the HomeKit accessories to work. As soon as you travel with the iPad the automations won't happen. Make sure you've updated the software on your iPad. 

To set your iPad up as a Home Hub. Go to Settings > iCloud, sign in with your Apple ID and check that iCloud Keychain and Home are both turned on. Now go to Settings > Home and turn on Use this iPad as a Home Hub.

Use your Apple TV to get remote access

Because the Apple TV acts as a secure gateway to your HomeKit accessories, you can also access your home remotely on your iOS device through Apple TV. Do things like lock your front door, view live camera video of the doorway or run scenes.

Make sure you use an Apple TV 4th generation or Apple TV 4K

Although you can use an Apple TV 3rd generation to give you basic access, to effectively utilise automation using rules and timers, Apple TV 4 or Apple TV 4K is the best solution. The older Apple TV 3rd generation doesn't offer this. If your setup includes HomeKit accessories that use Bluetooth, you’ll appreciate the Apple TV 4’s much improved Bluetooth antenna range.

Using Siri On Your TV to control your HomeKit accessories

With Siri Remote, everyone in your house or visitors can easily control your home, or simply query accessory values, via your television equipped with Apple TV and Siri.

That means tasks like turning up the heater, checking the outdoor temperature, dimming the lights or turning off a Eve Energy plug (UK, US) can be done without leaving the couch or even using an iOS device.

The introduction of HomePod, the smart hi-fi speaker, means you can also speak to your HomePod to interact with gadgets made smart by the Eve Energy plug or directly with the Eve Degree weather station, for instance.

Get a second Apple TV

Some Apple HomeKit devices, like the Elgato range of smart home accessories, work via Bluetooth rather than using your home Wi-Fi network.

By having more than one Apple TV, you can connect Bluetooth devices around your home (when in range) to the Apple TV so you can sync all the information accordingly. In other words, multiple Apple TVs automatically serve as range extenders.

Share your HomeKit devices and edit permissions for users

Without Apple TV you can't share your scenes or devices with others in your house. If you want to add members to your home, you can invite other people and give them access to your home.

 With an Apple TV or iPad as a home hub, you can allow editing on a per-user basis, and you can also choose to let them control accessories while inside the house or remotely.

To manage remote access and change permissions for a person go to the Home app, and tap on the location icon in the top left of the screen.

Then enter the iCloud email address of the person you want to invite. Once you've invited them you can then allow Remote access and whether or not they have the ability to edit your set up. You can also remove them if you decide you don't like them anymore.

Update your iPhone and iPad to iOS 11

Although HomeKit works perfectly with iOS 10, iOS 11 adds new functionality. Previously, iOS 10 introduced notification support for HomeKit accessories including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door/window, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors. When a HomeKit enabled accessory like the Eve Door & Window is triggered you’ll get a notification of the fact.

That’s incredibly handy if you need to be alerted that a door has opened you weren’t expecting or you are seeing what time other members of your house really did get home.

Now, with iOS 11, you’ll see the latency – the time between issuing an instruction and it taking effect – is reduced. Setting up a new gadget is made easier than ever and new kinds of devices are supported.

How to change the wallpaper in Home app

The Home Tab wallpaper can be modified by tapping the location icon in the top left and choosing a new one in Home settings. You can do the same for rooms: after picking a room, tap the list icon in the top left, open Room Settings, and assign a new wallpaper.

How to create a HomeKit scene

A scene is where any number of your accessories can work together with a single command and is one of the key features of HomeKit. This is great for times like when you wake up, leave the house, come home or go to bed. The Apple Home app lets you create custom scenes giving you plenty of options. To create a scene, tap on the "+" icon at the top right of the screen in the Home app and follow the instructions from there.

How to add new accessories and scenes

Easily add a new accessory or scene by tapping on the "+" sign in the top right corner of the Home tab or any room page. 

Setting up HomeKit favourites

"Favourite" scenes and accessories for them to appear on the Home tab and in the Control Center. To set a device or scene as a favourite, long press (Using 3D Touch with the iPhone 6S or 7) on the device or scene and then press "Details". Scroll down the page until you see "Include in Favourites" and make sure it is selected.

Accessing HomeKit devices through the Control Center

When you have at least one HomeKit accessory set up, a third Control Center card will appear, giving you an easy way to quick access your favourite accessories and scenes. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the page and then scroll right to left twice to see your HomeKit enabled devices.

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Quickly see the status of your Home

You'll find a summary of average conditions and statuses at the top of the Home page in the Home app like humidity, temperature and door lock status. You can tap Details for an accessory overview.

How to get deeper HomeKit controls

3D Touch enables you to press and hold an accessory icon to perform more complex tasks like dimming the lights or adjusting the thermostat. With multicolour lights, you can tap on a Colours button below the intensity slider to modify presets and open a colour wheel to pick a different shade. The wheel even has a segmented control to switch between colour and temperature. 

How to share your HomeKit home

If you want to add members to your home, you can invite other people and give them access to your home. Go to the Home app and tap on the location arrow icon at the top left of the screen. Here you can invite people via their Apple ID to be able to control the devices in your system. They will only be able to control it in the house unless you have an Apple TV.

Rename your HomeKit Home

Press on the location arrow icon at the top left of the screen and change the name from Home to Castle if you are feeling the need to be a little more grandeur.

Add a second home to HomeKit

If you have more than one home you can set up multiple homes that can be controlled via the Home app. Tap on the location arrow icon at the top left of the screen in the Home app, and tap on Add Home. You can follow the instructions for setup from there. You can then switch between your homes by tapping on the location arrow icon at the top left of the screen, then choosing the home you’d like to access.

How to make the most of your Elgato Eve products and HomeKit

Eve Motion can do more than just warn you of intruders. It’s there to help with the ambience and mood, too. So, you can set up the motion detector to talk to the smart light bulb in your hallway. That’s not just a matter of turning it on, that’s easy enough. But you can finesse the experience so it uses different colours during daytime and evening, making for a more welcoming lighting state as you get home in the evening or something a little brighter but still agreeable when night has fallen.

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If the smart home can get, well, a bit too smart for its own good, there are still ways to keep it simple. Eve has a gadget called the Eve Button, a beautifully designed aluminium square with gently curved edges. And in the middle, surprise, surprise, is a button. This can be controlled in three ways: a quick press of the satisfyingly clicky button, a double-press, or a long-press. You can control a connected lamp, for instance, by turning it on with one press, dimming the brightness to halfway with a double-press or turning it off with a longer press (still less than a second). You can add further versatility by setting the short press gesture as a toggle, so you only need to remember one gesture: press for on, then press for off.

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Elgato lets you do things even the Home app doesn’t cover. The Eve Degree knows the temperature, obviously, and when it detects it’s falling below a set level, you can use the Eve app to trigger a change like turning on the heater connected to the Eve Energy plug. Or turn an aircon unit on when the app spots it’s got too warm for comfort. If you have sensitive plants, for instance, this could be crucial, whether that’s in your living room or your greenhouse.

And while we’re talking about the Eve app, wouldn’t you like to make it all your own? You can, by changing the wallpapers you see when you use the app. The Eve app has changed a lot recently, with a refreshed look with version 3.0 (it’s now up to 3.2.1). Here’s how you change the wallpaper. First, tap Rooms in the tab bar at the base of the screen, then, in the top right corner, tap Edit. Choose the relevant room and click the right-pointing arrow next to its name and on the next screen press Photo. Then, just choose the photo you want to use and it’ll appear.

So many ways to control things, sometimes you may feel you want the system to back off. If you find you’re receiving notifications from, say, Eve Motion to tell you that there’s movement in the living room because that’s where you are, you can opt to suppress these notifications. The same applies to the Eve Door & Window sensor. You’ve just opened that window, so you hardly need to be told you did, right? But you still need those notifications when they’re relevant, so you can choose to cancel them just when you’re at home.

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