Apple HomeKit + Smartthings Home Setup Ideas (UK)

Last year I was gifted a HomePod mini but I already had a couple of Google Nest Audio speakers - and my partner and I have Samsung phones - so, never actually unboxed the devices.

Over the last 6 months, I’ve become fully immersed in the ST ecosystem but I have a MacBook and find it a little annoying that there is no desktop ST app. As such, I’ve decided have a dual Apple/ST system and hopefully will be easy to setup as my devices are mostly connect to an Aqara M2 hub and Hue bridge or are Matter products.

Beyond this, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on the pros/cons of using the Apple system vs when to use ST. Or just general tips!

I have 2 ST stations and I’m based in the UK :slight_smile:

Thanks!

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Sounds like you have some fun projects ahead! Lots of us use both Homekit and smartthings, it’s a fairly popular combination if you already have an Apple device to serve as a hub for that platform. :sunglasses:

As I’ve mentioned before, I use a combination of smartthings, Apple Home, and Alexa at our house, and it works well for us.

Alexa just because it’s still a better voice assistant than Siri, and because at the time of this writing, it works with a bunch more devices than the other two. Just some examples, our central heating system has an Alexa integration, but nothing else. Same with our robot vacuum. And our automated kitchen faucet. And the microwave.

(I am quadriparetic, use a wheelchair and have a limited hand function, so home automation isn’t just a convenience for me: it’s a necessity to get through my day.)

Back in 2015 I had a lot of reliability issues with smartthings, so I started moving my mission critical automations to HomeKit. Since that time, HomeKit has gotten better and better in terms of the number of candidate devices available and the complexity of the rules it can support.

And smartthings hasn’t gotten much better in terms of reliability. :disappointed_relieved: In particular smartthings can and does change functionality at any time without announcement or documentation. You’ll see several threads in the forum every month from people saying “this worked great for years, I haven’t changed anything, but now it stopped working.” Sometimes there’s a workaround, sometimes there isn’t, but it takes time and effort just to keep up with all the unannounced changes. :thinking:

Another important aspect of HomeKit for me is that everything runs locally except Siri, so if the Internet goes out (which happens several times a year in my area.), everything still works. And I’m not without voice control: I can still do voice navigation of the app itself if needed. When you can’t just “walk over and turn on the light switch,” this kind of reliability becomes more significant. I know there are other homes where it won’t matter as much.

And finally: I love my Apple Watch. :heart_eyes: That is all. LOL!

If you’d like more details about my setup, I have a long project report here, but it’s not really as relevant to your specific questions. It’s more about how I chose exactly what to automate in a way that could meet my budget.

Adding Home Automation in Phases: my limited investment strategy

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Beyond that, definitely, matter will make things easier with regards to reliability for inexpensive sensors, and some other devices, as well as making more devices available to use with both smartthings and Apple Home. Aqara is a perfect example. So I certainly think that’s a good trajectory. :sunglasses:

I don’t have a lot of other tips in general. I try to choose devices which work with all three of my preferred platforms. (Alexa, HomeKit, and smartthings, often with Alexa as an intermediary). But that’s not always possible, and then I select on a case by case basis, depending on the priorities for that specific use case.

I know a lot of people like the smartthings app the best: unfortunately, its voice navigation has been broken for several years, so I mostly use the Apple home app and use the alexa app occasionally, and the ST app as little as possible since I have to have somebody else do that, so I’ll leave those discussions to other people.

One more thought…have you set up your HomePod mini yet?

You need an iPhone or iPad to set up HomePod . You can’t set up HomePod with a Mac.

Set up HomePod or HomePod mini - Apple Support.

I hadn’t appreciated that Alexa was regarded as the best voice assistant but saying that when I’ve been telling people about my smart devices, they tend to assume I control them with “Alexa”!

Really great to hear that smart home functions are positively impacting people such as yourself! Thank you for sharing your journey too, quite insightful as to how things have really changed for those who have had a smart home for the best part of the last decade.

Also interesting to hear that ST had a voice assistant (I’ve only been on the smart home train for the last 18 months or so), I have tried to use Bixby on my galaxy phone and it’s largely been trash.

Only really got time to try the HK setup today and following your note I picked up an old iPad from a friend. I managed to onboard my Hue and Aqara devices with no problem (and a HK Meross smart strip). Unfortunately none of my Matter devices have paired. All of my Matter devices are thread-based (Nanoleaf bulbs, Eve motion sensor, Aqara contact, Onvis plug).

Initially thought it might be the devices as the NL bulbs have been patchy at best - though the NL website does say there may be performance issues in a network of 20+ bulbs and I have 24 (was/am hoping that by moving a few over to HomePod thread network reliability picks up). The Eve and Aqara sensors have been golden in terms of reliability with ST though, so does seem a HomePod issue but not obvious to me if the problem is with matter or with thread.

I am expecting a call from Apple support tomorrow :man_facepalming:

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PS: I like how you said you haven’t been attracted to the shiny new device that gets released and hold off buying until cheaper/absolutely clear on reliability. I’ve been a bit guilty of that so far, especially as I feel I’m only just started with my smart home and have been facing reliability issues (ie Nanoleaf!)

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As I’ve said in other threads, I think most people looking at home automation fall into one of two groups: problemsolvers, or hobbyists.

Because of my physical issues, I now find myself firmly in the problemsolvers group, although before I got sick, I was definitely a hobbyist. :robot:

Problemsolvers have a specific problem they want to solve, whether it’s having lights turn on when someone gets home at night, get an alert if a particular door is opened after 10 pm, know if a sump pump has stopped working, whatever. This group generally buys a device to solve a specific problem and looks for reliability first.

Hobbyists love to explore the technology. They are the ones who see a fancy new device and go “wow, I wonder what I could do with that?“ When Best Buy or Home Depot have a sale, they’ll come home with a car trunk full of stuff that they don’t know what they’re going to do with yet. they read all the blogs and sign up on Kickstarter for things that may not be delivered for a year or more. They’re OK with systems that need a lot of handholding, in fact, they may enjoy that process.

Both viewpoints are valid, and they may end up with a very similar set of devices, but they get there through a different thought process. And sometimes a very different budgeting process. :wink:

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