having remote access to open the door and disable the security system is the superpower of a smart home

With summer and summer travel around the US coming up, I was recently reminded how useful remote access to your smart home accessories can be. So this week I want to explain how to access your devices when you are away from home and the potential use cases.

HomeKit Weekly is a series dedicated to smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything related to the Apple smart home system.

In the summer of 2020, we redid the hardwood floors after a tornado toppled a large tree on our house and the accompanying rain poured into my living room. Our parquet floors soaked up a fair amount of water, so most of the flooring had to be replaced, as well as the entire first floor being refurbished. This entire project took a week to complete as the floors needed to be sanded and repainted. Doing a project like this in a new home is part of the building process, but it’s a mess in an existing home. Also, it requires moving every piece of furniture out of the area. We planned to do this while we were away on vacation so as not to stay at the hotel for a week.

Remote Access Rescue

The man who did our floors is a family friend, so I trusted him in my house while I was away, but I needed an easy way to lock the door and set the alarm. Thanks to my existing HomeKit setup, we had this option. I have already used the “August Gateway” and “August” alarm systems. Both products provide remote access using built-in native apps or HomeKit.

If you have products that you want to access remotely that don’t support native remote access, you’ll need to make sure you have a HomeKit Home Hub installed in your home. A HomeKit home hub can be a HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV, or an always-connected iPad (see this iPad wall mount setup for HomeKit). If you have at least one of these devices on your network, you will have full access to your HomeKit environment when you are away from home. If you really want to use it, you can turn the lights on and off at random times as long as you really fool would-be burglars.

Let’s say you have a HomeKit-only alarm that isn’t tied to an ARC, but you want to turn it off remotely so someone can get in – this is a situation where a HomeKit home hub comes in handy.

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

see also

Apple targets Safari without WebXR support

When you are designing a smart home installation, you need to think about situations where you want to let someone in remotely. In our situation, I knew that the floor crew would arrive at 8:00, so at 7:50 I opened the door, turned off the automatic door lock and turned off the alarm. When I got a warning from my eufy cameras that they were leaving the driveway in the evening, I would lock the door and set off the alarm.

Conclusion

Even when building our new home, we’re going with the same set-up: an August Wi-Fi lock for our side door and a home security system with central station monitoring. The process of building a house made me rethink the benefits HomeKit brings to my life, and it became clear that the ability to remotely open doors when the security system is disabled is very useful when the need arises.