Now that Apple HomePods are finally in Singapore, we can live out our HomeKit dreams and command Siri to do things around the house that our hands normally would have to. It’s not us being lazy, it’s just making daily tasks more convenient. But I have to admit, the accessories for the Apple HomeKit system aren’t as many as those available for Google Home and Amazon Alexa; and it took a fair bit of Googling (love the irony) to find devices that are sold in Singapore and work for the Singaporean household.
I was disappointed that Hunter ceiling fans (currently one of the very few ceiling fans that work with HomeKit) only offer the HomeKit option for the US market, and not for Singapore. Also, almost all Xiaomi home appliances — like the popular Mi cameras — don’t integrate with HomeKit. Just in general, be prepared to pay more for HomeKit compatible devices (eg. Mi cameras are around $55, while Logitech Circle View cameras are $259).
Here are the ones I managed to get my hands on, are easy to set up, and work well with the Home app.
Philips Hue Bridge + Lightstrips
I was deciding between Philips Lightstrips and the Nanoleaf ones and read a lot of bad feedback about Nanoleaf’s connectivity, with most users saying that the Philips system is more stable. So here I am fitting out my desk, wardrobe and bed with the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus (not the gradient one — those cost quite a fair bit more). I had to buy the Philips Hue Bridge as well in order to use these lights with HomeKit, but it’s worth it. I feel like a million bucks commanding my lights to turn on and off, to change colour or to just dim or go brighter. It’s addictive and now I want to change all my recessed ceiling lights to the Philips Hue downlight and do the same thing. All in good time.
Belkin Wemo Smart Plug with Thread
This plug is really straightforward; it toggles anything connected to it on and off. It will work well with lamps and fans that have its own switch (you have to leave the switch at the “on” position), and for any appliance that starts up once power is turned on.
I tried it with the Dyson Lightcycle Morph and it wasn’t helpful at all, because with the Dyson lamp, I need to manually tap the top of the arm to activate it. But with a sunset lamp that I bought on Shopee with a traditional switch, the Wemo perfectly controlled it.
This was probably the device that had the easiest set-up of all. The Home app detects the device when it’s turned on and prompts you to add it as an accessory. Perfect integration with HomeKit.
Belkin Wemo Smart Plug with Thread, $39 from APPLE.COM.
Logitech Circle View Camera Security System
I had some initial frustration setting up this camera; it requires the user to be on a 2.4 GHz Wifi instead of 5 GHz, and that meant trying to configure my Singtel Wifi router to run on 2.4 GHz, and then switch back to 5 GHz when I’m done with the set up (the 2.4 GHz is only needed for the initial set up). But somehow resetting the entire camera by pressing the back button for 9 seconds did the trick, and I managed to connect the Circle View to my iPhone and have it appear in the Home app.
It’s a wide-angle camera that both streams and records, and is able to set automations such as turning on the desk light when it senses someone walking into the room. I do like that the camera itself is compact and can mount in various positions, plus you can turn it down for privacy when you don’t want to be recorded. It’s a tad pricey for a security camera, but its slim form factor and ability to integrate with HomeKit make this the ideal security camera for Apple users.
Logitech Circle View Camera Security System, $259 available on SHOPEE.
Sensibo Air PRO
This little device takes over your aircon remote control, and makes it smart. Connecting and setting this up takes a few minutes, but once you’re done, prepare to be amazed. You can now instruct Siri to turn the AC on or off, or change the temperature and fan speed. Like I said, it’s amazing. And if you install the Sensibo app, this guy can also read the air quality in the room and give you real-time updates on VOCs and CO₂. It’s good info to know so you can open the window for some fresh air when you’re wondering what’s causing that headache.
Unfortunately, you need one Sensibo per aircon unit, which is going to get expensive if you have several ACs that you want to turn smart.
Sensibo Air PRO smart air-conditioner controller, $204, available on SHOPEE.
Apple TV 4K
This one is a no-brainer. If you want a smart TV that can work with Apple HomeKit, the Apple TV 4K device will do that for you — and more. More importantly, if you don’t own an Apple HomePod, the Apple TV 4K acts as your smart home hub, and allows you to set up all your other HomeKit accessories.
I really do like the included Siri Remote; it has a touch-enabled clickpad that’s simple and intuitive to use, and it also feels and looks good.
Apple tv 4k, from $200.85, available on APPLE.COM.
Switchbot Hub 2
Switchbot is a great solution for a smart home hub if you’re on a budget. Their Hub 2 is fully HomeKit compatible, but it can only sync the brand’s curtain controllers, not other functions like the aircon remote or the Switchbot bot (this device is so simple but so useful — it acts as a physical finger to turn your switch on and off). But I’m crossing my fingers that an update will come along from the brand, and there will be more support for HomeKit with their other devices.
Switchbot hub 2, $109, available on OSTSOME.COM.