How to Use a Meross Plug to Use HomeKit Presence to Trigger ST Routines

THE PROBLEM

Beginning in mid 2020, some users reported that presence on iOS phones and tablets no longer worked reliably to trigger smartthings routines because the smartthings app wasn’t always open in the background. Typically as soon as they opened the smartthings app it would work again.

At the same time, if they were just using the phone’s presence in native Apple features, including HomeKit, presence worked fine. and sometimes ST presence would work fine for one person in a household but not another, even if they had the same model iPhone. :thinking:

Hopefully eventually the two companies will get this straightened out and iOS presence will work universally in smartthings again, but in the meantime, if you want to, you can use a physical device which is visible to both HomeKit and smartthings as a proxy for presence.

Which device to use?

Personally, I like Meross devices and use a number of them. These are Wi-Fi and work well simultaneously with HomeKit and smartthings. They have good safety certifications. And they are relatively inexpensive.

You can just use one of their mini plugs for each person that you want to track. But I am particularly fond of their power strip for this purpose. You can get either a three socket or a four socket one, each socket independently controlled, so that lets you represent up to four people in the household from just one wall outlet. They also have USB charger slots which you can use even while using the sockets for presence. And if you turn the socket on when you are home and off when you’re away, that might even be useful with something plugged in, it just depends on your needs.

These are available in both the US and the UK.

Make sure it says HomeKit compatible: they have a slightly cheaper line that isn’t, but you need HomeKit for this project.

US VERSION

UK VERSION

Create automations in HomeKit to turn a socket on and off

Homekit Automation

If that works well, you’re on your way. :sunglasses:

Now you can use that socket as a proxy for presence for that person

Since both HomeKit and SmartThings can recognize the Meross at the same time, you can just use the socket as a proxy for presence: if the socket is on, the person is home.

SmartThings routine

Virtual Presence Sensor

If you want to get fancier, you can create a virtual presence sensor and turn it on with an ST routine when the socket is on. This then allows you to use “member location“ in smartthings routines and to do things like say “if everyone is away.“

Here’s a community-created Edge driver for a virtual presence sensor.

[ST Edge] vEdge Creator: a virtual device generator for end users

That’s your choice, but for most people just the socket should be enough.

Other issues

All of this is just a method for letting you use the phone’s presence in ST without requiring the ST app to track presence since it doesn’t seem to be very good at it for some people.

If HomeKit presence isn’t reliable either, then that’s a different issue and would require a different solution.

@jkp

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Very interesting workaround! Our family has been using iOS presence in HomeKit every since setting up an Aqara G3 camera a couple months ago (we use presence to arm/disarm it’s Alarm feature). It’s very reliable. With that said, i’ve been on the iOS 15.3 beta for a bit now. Between it and the iOS ST app update last week that fixed the logout issue, thing seem more stable in SmartThings :crossed_fingers:

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Yeah, the main advantage of this method is it’s super simple, doesn’t require household members to carry an extra device, doesn’t require homebridge, and doesn’t require any custom smartthings code unless you want the virtual presence sensor.

It would of course be better if iOS presence just worked in smartthings, but for those who find it doesn’t but HomeKit presence does, this is an easy way to link the two systems for this specific purpose.

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I love this! Great idea. I’ll have to look into HomeKit. It’s a bit cold out for this now, but my company iPhone travels with me on bike rides. It would be great to not have to punch in my code to get in the door after cycling 50+ miles. Likewise, for any ‘regulars’ who are trusted this could work instead of mucking around with lock codes.

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Thank you for this suggestion. For a while, our iOS phone presence sensors were finally working in 2022 for all our iPhones. But one phone started failing to be recognized again. Finally gave up on iPhone presence ever working reliably. Didn’t want to go the Life360 route given the upcoming changes to Smartthings and Groovy/IDE going away.

So, I purchased the Meross 3-way outdoor cord and put it in my garage. I skipped the virtual presence sensor and instead set location mode to home or away depending on the status of the 3 outlets. All my automation routines are then triggered off location mode.

Thanks again to JDRoberts.

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But doesn’t this need the Home Hub from Apple to automations? I have many of the Meross switches and plugs, and they all show up in the Home IOS app, but when I click automation tab it reminds me I need the Apple TV or Home Hub.

or an iPad can act as a hub.

I have an iPad 9th generation and still when I hit the automation tab I get the same error.

did you enable “Use this iPad as a Home Hub” in settings > Home?

In the Home App, I don’t see that option? I could be looking in the wrong place.

go to Settings on the iPad and look for “Home” in the side menu… it is not in the Home app :slight_smile:

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Thank you, that helped, since I was looking in the Home App, not iPad settings.