Homekit and SmartThings: The Latest Discussion

My concern is that there must be some reason why the Insteon/HomeKit integration works the way it does. They have a completely separate hub for their HomeKit version and it actually has exactly what Ben describes: a different and diminished experience from the regular insteon hub.

You wouldn’t Think they would’ve done it that way unless they had to, if only contractually with Apple, so there has to be something going on. Maybe the trusted Wi-Fi concept. Anyway, see the grid at the very bottom of the following page.


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That table literally has the Homekit device listed at twice the price with half the features. It would take some serious sorcery to convince me that it was truly the better deal.


I know! That’s why I’m thinking that Apple must’ve made them do it that way, it can’t of been their own plan. It must be some security issue if they are not even allowed to have the Wi-Fi cameras on there.

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The Withings camera is HomeKit compatible and operates via wifi. Maybe in the rush to get out a product Insteon skipped that for the first gen hub.

Has anyone tried https://github.com/nfarina/homebridge with ST?

Talk to the people in this project thread:

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The short answer is “Yes” and success seems to depend on a few factors; I have had Siri controlling my home via HomeBridge for over a week successfully.

I have been using homebridge with ~50 devices for about a week now, too. Set up may not be for everyone since it is not just plug and play. But once it is running it takes home automation to the next level.

I know Smartthings is about automation but for the (many!!!) times I need to do things manually I see the huge benefit however from not having to open the app anymore to turn things on and off or launch actions from the widget. Those couple of seconds make a big difference when it comes to usability. Also there is the benefit over Echo that I always have my phone with me in the every room of the house or even remotely.

Homebridge is a good example how the Smartthings ecosystem can co-exist with Homekit and expand the functionality instead of limiting it. I can see that a more robust Homekit implementation than Homebridge is difficult and may require quite some effort but I would be more happy to pay more for such a premium feature than for e.g. video recording…

By any chance, do you have a home energy monitor as one of your devices? I have the Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Smart Energy Monitor. I’m considering moving to a homekit setup but there are simply some z-wave devices I can’t replace. And, economically, it would be difficult to do all at once as I also have about 50 devices in the house.

Hi Mike, Actually only a very small number of Apple owners are really aware of HomeKit at all. Let’s look at the big picture:

  1. Apple hasn’t even started promoting HomeKit. We’re starting to see the first ever commercial blitz for Apple TV (which obviously plays with HomeKit), but nothing HomeKit yet. This should not be surprising. Apple has a reputation of at least bringing out product that’s pretty well developed.
    I don’t expect we’ll see any real promotion for HomeKit until fall of 2016. In other words, it’s early for HomeKit, but for Apple folks, we can start small. I’m already controlling my new Ecobee3 thermostat using Siri.
  2. Apple is just starting to “build out” HomeKit from a device standpoint. It takes a good deal of time before there are a lot of supporting devices for any new format. They started off with announcements from a few companies a year ago. (Including SmartThings), this summer more products were added. But, watch what happens in the next year or two.
  3. Like first gen iPods, iPhones, tablets, watch, even the apple 2 and macintosh didn’t start out with everything. Overtime there’s an android phone with something new that the iPhone lacks, there’s always - look at this, Apple can’t do that, but sooner or later most of that comes to Apple devices along with all the things that Apple pioneered first. So, expect HomeKit to go from a 5% solution today, to a 85% or 90% solution in perhaps two years. For most of us Apple folks, that’s just fine. Z-wave has a nice decade long head start, and sadly it’s still a mess from a device / hub compatibility. My Nexia couldn’t do much with my old Kwikset front door lock, I could lock/unlock, but couldn’t have my door automatically lock at 11pm if it wasn’t already locked. Partial support. Now I have a Schlage lock. Seems had I used that one with the Nexia, I would have had full support, even so that unlocking the front door could trigger heat coming on, lights turning on, etc. Now, I’m just about to tie the Schlage into the ST Hub. I’m curious to see if I’ll have the same full set of abilities as with the Nexia (at one point both Nexia and Kwikset were part of the same company: Ingersoll Rand.

What is full support? SmartThings and many others, of course have started off with an existing standard - Z-Wave, yet, after all these Z-wave years, it really comes down to “is this device fully supported” vs. basic support. Every time you pick up a device with some advanced capability, you have to start looking for the hub that will support those capabilities. I’m big on RGB and RGB+W smart lights. What a disaster most of Z-wave is so far.
For example, I have Zipato RGB+W bulbs. I started with HomeSeer hub before Z-Wave+. By the time HomeSeer had some support for Zipato, I was on to my next controller, a Nexia.
The Nexia app had zero support for color lighting. I could turn on, off, or dim, but no color. But, their website (subscription) had at least a little more support. There I could pull up a color wheel and set the color. That would be the color of the light whether controlling by app or website, until changed one the website, the app would grab whatever color the bulb was last commanded and go with it.
Then a couple of months ago, I replaced the Nexia with the latest ST Hub. I wanted to get some color out of my Zipato bulbs, no joy. Then I spoke with SmartThings support. They pushed a community solution down to me, so now I have some color support. Still pretty thin. From my app I can now select a color and set its brightness (thanks “community”), and switch the light to that color, but that’s as far as it goes. What I want to do, is have a whole bunch of different preset colors (and different brightness levels) available at touch. For example, I might want to have a particular color up fairly bright, before sunset, but after the sun goes down, switch to a different color and a lower brightness, then have the brightness reduce sightly over the next half hour until it’s dark outside. I imagine this can be automated with IFTTT in some way, but the point is, I should have the ability to select many different colors and brightness levels and effortlessly (ideally by voice), swap them out whenever or automate.
So, maybe next month, or next year, ST will have full support for Zipato and other RGB and RGB+W bulbs. On the other hand, if Zipato can support HomeKit, my Zipato issues will quickly go away. (Zipato is Z-wave, not Wifi so that’s a big “IF.” (And why I hoped the ST would talk to HomeKit, providing a link.)
If Zipato supports HomeKit, I’ll get what I want. If they don’t, Maybe, eventually I’ll get the capabilities through ST, but I can’t count on that.
I’ve just ordered in a basic Philips Hue setup to see how well Apple HomeKit / Siri can handle, since there is HomeKit support there. Not not a huge fan of Hue, because I wish they were brighter, and because they really don’t allow you a shot at the full color spectrum. Will it be able to do more than my ST hub with any of my color lights? We shall see soon enough.
But back to my main point. For the most part, the vast majority Apple owners are only vaguely aware of HomeKit. Those that are, many will look at it as, OK, HomeKit is Apple, so I can trust it even if it’s “early on.” They’ll think… OK, I an start off with a HomeKit supported smart thermostat, add some supported lights. And add more and more automation as things become available.
I’m not particularly patient, as its my job to review some of these products, but most apple iOS owners aren’t folks who care to live on the “bleeding edge.” Let’s face it, unfortunately, due to things including some I mentioned above (partial support in particular), most of this stuff - Z-wave, Zigbee, Insteon… is still catering primarily to DIY types, because of the bleeding edge aspects. Hey, if it were all super simple, would we need a a great community like ST’s?
PS. This month I’m installing a whole bunch of Lutron gear in my home. Support for HomeKit is one reason I moved forward with Lutron at this time. Unfortunately, Lutron, so far, is ignoring (best I can tell) the bulk of RGB and RGB+W lighting (I think they have some RGB strips coming, but that’s all?)
It probably will look like this two years from now: Apple HomeKit will be used to control at least one device, in millions of homes, and be doing some pretty capable work in a lot of folks homes, controlling multiple types of devices. But it just might take two, or even three years, before there are a ton of compatible devices that work well.
Z-Wave will likely to continue to be the primary DIY environment.
ST will either remain a very open Z-wave type controller, or Samsung will bring it more closely into its fold. There to help support Samsung phones over other Android devices, etc. Samsung will have to decide which way to play it. With support for HomeKit, I felt that ST had the ability to become a potential standard among Z-wave controllers, one that ultimately is fully supporting both Android and iOS. But without support for HomeKit, that muddies things up. The first “big name” Z-wave Hub to commit to full HomeKit support, will likely push ST into an also ran situation, because simply, iOS folks spend far more money than android folks on most things - buying music services or music, buying apps, buying accessories and peripherals.
HomeKit will be positioned to make “new school” home automation easy for millions. How many of you can recommend a Z-wave hub to friends who just aren’t that technical, or are, but don’t want to deal with another "headache."
PS. I have an Echo too. I’m using it, so far, to control a number of Wifi devices around the house, but so far that’s limited to three BelkinWemo devices. So far the Echo doesn’t support the other wifi devices I own.

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@tgauchat Try setting up lighting groups in the echo app, this makes it much easier to turn on or off say the “bedroom” lights…

Hi Mike. Like others here I would like HomeKit compatibility so I can use Siri to control things. I’ve got a lot of Apple devices, including an Apple Watch. I looked at Smarthings for integration, but went with Philips instead. That’s very limited functionality at present, but I lock/unlock my doors, turn lights on/off/dim (both for smart bulbs and switches), get alerts for open doors, etc. most of what I’m looking for (I have no need to manage complicated stuff like home theater).

I can activate a lot of these through Siri on either my iPhone or Watch. Since I also have the latest Apple TV, I can do these things remotely. It works today. I had very little trouble setting it up–maybe an hour of configuration (unlike my Smartthings hub setup, which was a disaster, wasting several hours and never did work).

I already have the Apple devices. I suppose if I wanted to buy an Amazon Echo, I could get roughly the same (assuming I got the Smartthings hub set up properly). Except my phone and watch are always nearby, whereas Echo won’t be.

Bottom line, voice activation is key for me. I won’t use home automation if I have to pull out my phone and poke around at buttons on an app to turn something on/off. That’s why I have very few smart bulbs and lots of smart switches–I can control them the good old fashioned manual way or via voice control, but in most cases (with HomeKit) without ever opening an app.

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As far as I (as a customer) am concerned, this is a plus, not a minus. But for SamThings’ far-reaching plans to monetize user data, it surely is a deal breaker.

I use both echo and Siri. I found echo much more natural, plus it’s nice to have other people in the house to be able to use it, even those without smart phones. But Siri is still very good for times when I am out of range of the echo, like in the yard.

I have a number of HomeKit devices and really like them. Set up, as you mentioned was very easy. And with the exception of one I Home plug, which I returned the first week, they’ve all been extremely reliable.

The big thing that is still missing is the ability to trigger from motion and contact sensors. Theoretically it’s in Homekit, but so far the only devices that can use it are the Wi-Fi ones, not the Bluetooth ones. So the ecobee sensors can do it, but not the eve ones. Eve has said they’re going to add the capability, but they haven’t yet, which does make one wonder.

My own guess, purely a guess, is that there’s a power management issue for the battery operated devices. But who knows? For now though, I can only consider HomeKit a partial solution for my own needs.


Greetings and salutations. I come in peace, though apprehensively.

So I have a SmartThings Home monitoring kit that I ordered recently. It sits here unopened. Why? After searching diligently, apparently not enough I steadied on SmartThings but a day after I ordered the kit I came across Homekit.

As a confirmed Apple fanboy, card carrying actually, I of course, will make this my default platform.

Two questions:

  1. Will this ST be potentially compatible with HOmekit? I don’t want to get a doctorate on this, just slightly more than plug and play is what I require.

  2. If the answer is no, then why do I keep this kit?

I thank you profusely.

PS: Please keep iOS10 in mind.

Homekit Compatibility Requirements

Originally SmartThings intended to be HomeKit-compatible, as did many other companies, but in March 2015 Apple clarified that any device that would be compatible with HomeKit had to have a particular encryption chip inside it. And for security reasons they also put limitations on some of the other features the device could provide.

So SmartThings, along with many other companies, decided not to sign up for HomeKit compatibility at the present time. The SmartThings hub that you bought will never officially work with HomeKit. It’s possible that some future SmartThings version might include HomeKit compatibility, but no plans at the present. So if you Google anything about compatibility, make sure it’s dated after March 2015.

So why SmartThings?

As for why you might want something like SmartThings in addition to HomeKit it’s because, as announced at WWDC 2016, HomeKit apparently is going for a fairly limited feature set. Lights, HVAC, locks, garage door control. All through either Siri or the new home app.

What’s missing? The most obvious is sensors that can trigger other events. For example, even though the HomeKit page mentioned this in one of the examples, it is not presently possible to have a battery-powered motion sensor trigger a light to come on in HomeKit. There is a Contact sensor where you can open the app and see how many times it was triggered that day, but you can’t get a notification when it’s triggered or have anything else happen like a siren go off or again lights come on.

(I know the screenshots make it look like this can happen, but it can’t. At least not so far. There’s a motion sensor associated with the echobee thermostat, but it only reports every 15 minutes.)

There is also no IFTTT integration, and not likely to ever be because of Apple’s security rules.

And as yet there’s no clear way do to add control of entertainment devices to your home automation rules. That could change. But SmartThings has it now through the harmony integration.

And the HomeKit rules engine is very simple. Basically your only available triggers are geopresence, time of day, and some HVAC values like thermostat setting.

In contrast, a full-featured system like SmartThings could let you have a rule like: if it’s after eight at night and John has been home for at least 20 minutes but Charlie is not home and it’s dark outside and someone is sitting on the couch in the living room turn on the speakers to level 10 and turn on the TV to ESPN. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Or notify me if it’s after 8 pm and the dog has not been fed twice today.

Or if I’m home and the Christmas tree pot is less than half full of water, turn off the tree lights, run water for 5 minutes (or until the pot is full) and then turn off the pump and turn the lights back on.

HomeKit can do some of that. But not all of it. (And I’m not saying it’s easy to do that with SmartThings, but it is possible.)

Smarter Home, not Smart Home

In short, HomeKit on its own will give you a smarter home in the sense that you will replace some of your existing devices like light switches and an air conditioner with a smarter device of the same type. Smarter meaning you can put it on time schedules and you can use your presence to have things automatically happen when you leave or arrive.

Full-featured systems like SmartThings are intended to give you a smart home. You will buy some devices you wouldn’t have had otherwise, mostly sensors, and those will allow you to set up multi level conditionals for complex rules.

Different people want different things

Do you need a full featured system? Only you can say. :blush: It’s likely that Apple will continue to add more device classes over time. But I think it’s going to be awhile before they have really complex logic. They want to keep it simple because they want to make theirs a mass market “set and forget” product.

I have HomeKit devices now, I like them, I intend to get more in the fall. But I also don’t need really complicated logic. Time schedules, Geopresence, and voice control will meet many of my household needs. But I still want battery-operated motion sensors to control the lights, and so far it looks like I’m going to need a second system just for that feature.


I am 100% sure its for “security” reasons.


That’s why I went with Smartthings, and will be hard pressed to leave for HomeKit. I also like Apple products, but there is just too many toys to play with on Smartthings and I don’t see Apple having as many compatible products anytime soon. I guess only time will tell.

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There is a community provided solution for integrating Smartthings into Homekit. I have been using it for over a year now without any significant issues. I found it works best for rooms, zones and scenes.


Thank you for this very detailed response.

After reading it last night I went ahead and cracked open the box and set it up.

Being my first home automation attempt, it seems okay and I got notifications and stuff.

I ordered couple of Home kit switches and downloaded Homekit Beta so I’ll play with the two.

Again, thank you very much.

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