How to Manage Unapproved Smart Home Gadgets With Apple HomeKit
The Apple Home app makes it easy to control all of your smart home technologies right from your iPhone, but since we’re dealing with Apple, it also has some limitations. The biggest drawback is that Home only works with a small subset of HomeKit- approved smart lights, switches, and other gadgets.
This often means paying extra to stay in the Apple ecosystem, but there is a way around HomeKit’s limitations. All it takes is a program called Homebridge and some code.
What is Homebridge and how does it work?
This makes Homebridge great for controlling all your smart home gadgets through the Apple Home app. One Reddit user recommends stocking up on cheap Xiaomi smart plugs to turn your entire home into a smart home. Basically, anything that doesn’t work directly with Apple software should benefit from this workaround.
One big drawback is that you open yourself up to hackers and other risks. Apple requires every device to pass multiple tests and follow strict safety guidelines if it requires HomeKit approval. This can limit the pool of approved gadgets, but it also means you don’t have to worry about security as much. Homebridge is also open source, so you rely on the free developer community to keep it up to date, not a trusted company like Apple.
How to install HomeBridge
If you have a Mac at home that always works (like a desktop computer or a Mac Mini that acts as a media player), this is probably the best option. IMore has a detailed guide to installing Homebridge on macOS. Just be sure to back up your computer first in case something goes wrong.
You can also install Homebridge on Windows if you don’t have a macOS computer on hand. But, again, you have to make sure the computer is always on for the software to work.
If you don’t already have a computer to run Homebridge, your best option might be to buy a cheap Raspberry Pi computer and use it as a hub. In this case, Github has a step-by-step guide that walks you through the process.