Trending December 2023 # Review: Nanoleaf’s Aurora Smart Lighting Panels Match Modular Customization With Homekit Control # Suggested January 2024 # Top 12 Popular

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I’ve tried a few different HomeKit lighting solutions but nothing quite like Nanoleaf’s Aurora smart lighting panels. These modular tiles probably won’t replace traditional lamps or ceiling bulbs, but the customizable LED lights provide visually impressive colorful (and pricey) accent lighting. See it in action below:

Nanoleaf’s Aurora smart lighting system retails for $199 for a starter kit that includes nine panels, nine linkers, the HomeKit-compatible controller, 28 3M mounting strips, and the power supply. That’s comparable in price to the Philips Hue smart lighting system which includes three color-changing A19 LED bulbs and a HomeKit-compatible bridge, but the novelty of Aurora is unmatched by any other HomeKit lighting solution on the market.

Aurora is modular so you can create a variety of designs from the same nine tiles, or add additional tiles to create more complex layouts. Each lighting panel can connect to up to three more lighting panels with one linker connecting two tiles. Aurora intelligently detects what layout you’ve created, then maps it on Nanoleaf’s companion app where you can set color flows, brightness, speed, and more.

Additional tiles are sold in sets of three for $59.99 which is about the cost of one additional Philips Hue color bulb.

Check out our hands-on video with Nanoleaf Aurora below:

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HomeKit support means you can also set colors and brightness with Siri, Apple’s new Home app, or through automation based on time or commands that control other accessories.

For example, you could have a scene called Movie Night that turns off the ceiling light and sets the Aurora lights to deep blue at 10% brightness; just tell Siri to ‘set Movie Night scene’ and your connected accessories automatically jump to the right mode.

Apple’s Home app doesn’t support multicolor waves from the built-in color picker — only solid colors — so you’ll want to spend more time in Nanoleaf’s app at first to discover different color effects. HomeKit makes changing the brightness, toggling the lights on and off, and setting solid colors very convenient.

You can also turn color effects you discover or create in Nanoleaf’s app into scenes in Apple’s Home app. This is where HomeKit support’s potential is really unlocked. You can use Siri to change between dramatically different color effects, or pick a few favorites to access from Control Center.

You can also automate specific color effects using Apple’s Home app. For instance, you can have Aurora display a vibrant sunrise color effect at 7 am each morning or even based on the actual sunrise time where you live.

Simply using Siri to turn Aurora on, change the color effect and brightness, and turn Aurora off makes HomeKit support super valuable.

Setting up Aurora can be a bit intimidating, but Nanoleaf provides the necessary  supplies including paper templates that let you mock up a design on your wall before sticking tiles. Nanoleaf also has a series of very helpful video tutorials that I found useful before installation.

Nanoleaf’s packaging is pretty minimal and easy to break down and recycle (the box even asks you to) which I appreciated. The power supply includes plenty of cable length for wiring the controller to where you need it, and each tile is pretty light and can stand a few accidental drops (trust me).

Nanoleaf recommends connecting each panel right out of the box before you starting hanging anything to make sure there are no defects. The first panel connects to the controller, then each additional panel connects with a small tab called a linker that inserts into both panels to pass power and data.

3M mounting strips hold each panel in place on the wall. Nanoleaf recommends exposing the non-adhesive tab on each mounting strip so panels can be easily removed in the future, and you can strategically place them so that the connecting tile covers the exposed tab. The process is super easy once you get the hang of it.

Deciding on a design pattern may be the hardest step. Nanoleaf provides several ideas in the setup guide including four patterns that work with the starter kit, four more designs that work when adding the expansion kit, and seven ideas when using 15 and 30 panels. You can make any pattern with your panels, though, and the Nanoleaf app recognizes it and reflects it on your smartphone or tablet. I was tempted to go with the fish layout, but ultimately decided on a more linear layout to cover a few scratches on the wall from guitars.

A few things to keep in mind: each panel is lit by three LEDs which are more noticeable at high brightness levels, the controller is wired and may not sit flush like each tile so try to place it out of sight, and consider how the plasticky white panels will appear when not lit before deciding on placement.

Aurora is visually impressive and well integrated with Apple devices and Siri thanks to HomeKit, and Nanoleaf makes the lighting system both easy and fun to set up with the modular design. The starter kit is pricey for mood lighting at $200, but overall the product is very well done. I can definitely imagine purchasing additional starter kits to create different designs in other rooms in the future.

My office has a ceiling bulb connected to a HomeKit wall switch, a HomeKit bulb in a desk lamp, two studio lights connected to a HomeKit switch, and now Aurora which is overall my favorite for just general background lighting.

Nanoleaf Aurora is like a beautiful screensaver for your wall. Pair that with some music you enjoy and you can create a very ambient lounge experience.

Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit is available for $199.99, Aurora expansion kit retails for $59.99, and Best Buy is currently bundling Aurora starter kit and expansion kit together for $199.98. Nanoleaf also makes other interesting HomeKit lighting solutions like the Ivy (reviewed) which you can find on Amazon.

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Noon Smart Lighting Control May Offer Nest

Noon smart lighting control may offer Nest-like polish

Looks like Hue, LIFX, and others will soon have some new smart lighting competition, with a former Nest exec preparing to launch a rival system of his own. Locoroll is the brainchild of Erik Charlton, formerly a member of the founding team at Nest and the company’s head of business. It’s been working for more than a year and a half on what appears to be smart dimmer switches for the connected home.

“Locoroll, currently in stealth mode, is creating products, software and services to transform how people experience and enjoy their homes,” Charlton describes on his LinkedIn profile. The company was founded in January 2023 and – according to Stacey Higginbotham, who unearthed details on the project – has a healthy roster of people with smart home and IoT expertise. That includes former August CMO Kathy Sanders as head of marketing, along with luminaries from Fitbit and GoPro.

Locoroll – the website of which suggests that this is “not our real name” – isn’t saying anything about what specific products it has in mind, but the FCC hasn’t been quite so helpful. While a short-term confidentiality agreement, which runs until October 18, has withheld the juicier details like the users manual and test photos, we still have some labeling and test reports to go from. They, it turns out, spill plenty.

According to the filings, Locoroll will launch products under the Noon brand. The first device is a smart dimmer switch which will include WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 – in fact, there appears to be two versions of it. One, with product code N100, is codenamed “Sativa”, while the other, N130, is codenamed “Elvis”.

Exactly what they’ll do beyond dimming, and what form-factor they’ll have, is unclear. However, there are a few possibilities. Higginbotham speculates that Noon will use a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence to figure out typical lighting patterns and react accordingly, in addition to Bluetooth-based presence detection.

At the same time, wired-in controls have a number of benefits versus less their battery-powered counterparts, not least that they can rely on permanent power. They don’t have the same considerations of efficiency that a mobile device with limited onboard battery suffers from, and they can often be larger, too. Not to be overlooked is the mental familiarity users have with the location of a physical light switch on the wall when they enter a room, too: that muscle-memory can make installed controls more approachable.

It’s unclear whether Noon is working with WOKE – the “Sativa” name seems unlikely to be a coincidence, but stranger things have happened – but a touchscreen controller would certainly offer some interesting possibilities for a modern connected home. We’ve seen others attempt such a thing – Brilliant, for instance, has a more complex panel which also packs in Sonos control among other things, while Wink has its Relay – though none has managed to break the consumer market yet. If Charlton can bring some Nest approachability with Noon, it could be a tipping point to help bring the IoT out of the realm of smart home geeks.

[Updated to reflect that Charlton was a member of Nest’s founding team, though not officially a founder]

MORE Locoroll

Languinis Review: A Mash Up Of Match

I love playing word games, like Scrabble or Words with Friends. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the simplicity of mindless match-three games. So, it is only logical that I’d be drawn to a game that combines them both.

Languinis is a match-three word game that is both charming and entertaining. It appeals to puzzle gamers in two different genres. We’ve got a full game review of Languinis for you today.


You must help rescue the Languinis from the Phoenix god, who imprisoned the little creatures because they grew lazy after trying to name every single thing on the planet. To rescue them, you must travel across various islands, solving the god’s puzzles. Once you have defeated him, you will free one Languini from his prison and move onto the next island.


Players competed on a grid of elements. Using wind, fire, water, the sun, and more, players turn elements into letters and letters into points. Match more than three elements to produce a special one that clears a row or column.

A group of little Languinis walks around at the bottom of the screen while you play your game. If you misspell a word, they will shake their head at you, and one of them will boot another right off the screen. It’s OK, he comes back.


To free the Languinis, players spell words using letters that appear when three or more elements are matched. Each level has a set of goals you must achieve to continue. You only have a certain number of moves in a round. If you don’t reach the goals within the move limit, you will lose a life and must play the same round again.

If you achieve the goals with moves leftover, those moves are added to your final score.

At first, goals are fairly simple; spell six five-letter words, or match 20 green leaves. However, things get heated up once you make it to the third island. Here, you will have to hunt down words that start with “Q” or spell eight-letter words. Plus, you’ll still have to match elements and reach a minimum score.

You can call on the Phoenix god for help. He can destroy a letter or element, bomb an area, or remove all of one type of element from the screen. He can also find the longest word on the screen, which is always something I’ve never heard before.

You can also start each round with one power up already on the grid, like a bomb. All power ups cost gold. Sometimes, the Phoenix god will give you something for free, but the game designers need to make money somewhere, and power ups are it.

When you get to the last round of an island, you will have to rescue a Languinis by removing all elements and letters from the row he is standing in. When he gets to the bottom of the row, he is free. Then, you will collect his character card and read more about his history and personality. That Languini will then join you at the bottom of the screen while you play. Eventually, you will collect all 26 of the trapped little men.

The Good

This game could have been good enough by simply having you score points for matching three and spelling words. But, the added goal requirements make you think about your strategy and plan moves ahead of time in order to reach them before running out.

The Bad

Once you hit the third island it becomes much harder to complete all of the goals. With the help of power ups, you can be successful, but without them, you might be stuck for a very long time until luck lands on your side.


Languinis is free to download. It does have in-app purchases in the form of power ups. As noted above, eventually, you will find yourself using more and more power ups, which costs more and more money. So, you will probably end up dropping a couple of dollars on this game before you beat it entirely.


I love playing this game and definitely recommend it to fans of word games. However, because of the inevitable pay wall, it is slightly less appealing. It is still worthy of your time, however. This game is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can download it in the App Store today.

Related Apps

You can almost call this game a mash up between Candy Crush and LetterPad.

Ios 10: How To Use The New Home App To Control Homekit Devices

Controlling smart home devices with your iPhone or iPad is far from a new concept, but in iOS 10, Apple is lending much more focus to home automation. It’s all thanks to the new built-in Home app that ships with iOS 10 and watchOS 3.

Resident Apple HomeKit enthusiast, Zac Hall, already wrote a thorough walkthrough of the new Home app during the initial iOS 10 beta period, but now that iOS 10 and watchOS 3 are shipping, it’s only right to give it another in-depth visit with a corresponding walkthrough.

What is the Home app?

The new Home app is a centralized hub for managing Apple HomeKit-enabled devices. These are devices that have been specifically certified by Apple to work seamlessly. As you’ll learn, the set up process and day-to-day device interaction has much improved with the release of iOS 10.

Previously, users had to rely on third-party HomeKit apps in order to achieve similar functionality. A good example of this is the recently updated Home – Smart Home Automation app from Mattias Hochgatterer.

These apps work, and in some cases do things better than the stock Home app, but it’s difficult to compete with the level of native integration baked into a stock iOS app. There’s also something to be said for an app that appears on your Home screen by default; not to mention that it’s free.

With the new Home app in iOS 10, it’s super-easy to set up and manage HomeKit-enabled devices. The app features integration with Control Center, 3D Touch quick actions, and as you’d expect from anything HomeKit related, support for Siri. Home app settings are synced via iCloud, so any iCloud-enabled iOS device running iOS 10 — an iPod touch, iPhone, or an iPad — can be used to control your Home.

iOS 10 Home app video walkthrough

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You’ll need at least one HomeKit-enabled product

The $69.99 Philips Hue Starter kit is a great first HomeKit accessory

Before you can begin using the Home app, you’ll need at least one HomeKit-certified product. Before today, I didn’t own any HomeKit-enabled products, but I went out and bought a Philips Hue Starter Kit for this tutorial. The Philips Hue Starter Kit costs $69.99, and comes with a Hue bridge and two white bulbs.

Other HomeKit-enabled accessories you might want to consider The HomeKit hierarchy

There is a basic hierarchy when it comes to using the Home app. Keeping this hierarchy in mind will make it much easier to understand how the app functions.

Home → Rooms → Accessories → (Groups, Scenes & Automation)

To use the Home app, you must have at least one home, one room, and one accessory. Groups, scenes, and automation are optional, but they allow for broader control over your home.

Using the Home app

Once you’ve acquired your first HomeKit device, launch the Home app, and you’ll be greeted with a “Welcome Home” splash screen that explains some of the things that are possible with the Home app. Tap the Get Started button to proceed.

The initial accessory setup process in the Home app is fairly straightforward

By default, you’ll see a new “My Home” screen that allows you to start building your connected home by adding locks, lights, thermostats, etc. You can customize the name of your Home, change its background wallpaper, and much more.

Before you get into customization, however, you should add your first HomeKit-enabled accessory. Tap the Add Accessory button, and the Home app will scan your Home network in an effort to find any HomeKit-enabled devices. Make sure that your iPhone is connected to your local network, and that your HomeKit-enabled device is as well.

Using the 8-digit setup code to get started

In my case, the Philips Hue bridge showed up under the list of available accessories. Once you tap the accessory, you’ll be prompted to enter the 8-digit setup code that appears on the device’s packaging or the accessory itself. The Home app features a handy camera frame that allows you to capture the HomeKit code without needing to manually type it in.

After the HomeKit code is successfully submitted, the Home app will pair with the HomeKit-enabled device. Once the pairing is completed, you’ll be taken to the Add Accessory page to finish up the pairing process.

With some standalone products, there may be a 1:1 relationship between the Home app and the product itself. However, since the Philips Hue includes the Hue bridge along with the lights, there is an extra layer of complexity added to the mix, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

The Add Accessory page allows you to identify the accessory by means of the Identify Accessory button. Tapping this button will cause the Hue bridge’s push-link button to flash as a means of identification. Other HomeKit-enabled products will have different ways to go about identification, but the basic premise remains the same.

You can rename your HomeKit accessories, by tapping in the name box and adding a name of your choice. Along with name customization, you can set a particular location for the accessory. The location (or Room) is designated area of your house. A few location suggestions, such as Bedroom, Dining Room, and Living Room, are provided by default, but users can add their own locations by tapping the Create New button.

You’ll need to rely on Philips’ Hue app to complete the bridge setup

The Include in Favorites option at the bottom of the Add Accessory page lets you designate a device as a preferred accessory. Favorites appear in Control Center and in the Home tab for quick and easy access. Since the Hue bridge isn’t something that we’ll need to interface with on a regular basis, I’m keeping the Include in Favorites switch disabled.

Pairing Philips Hue lights inside the Philips Hue app

In some cases, you’ll need to rely on the manufactures app for initial setup, firmware updates, etc. That’s the case with the Philips Hue Starter Pack. After connecting to the bridge, you’ll need to launch the Philips Hue app to pair the lights with the bridge.

When you launch the Hue app for the first time, it’ll search for the new bridge. Once it’s found, tap the Set up button to proceed with setup. You’ll need to press the push-link button on the Hue bridge in order to connect. Once the bridge connects, tap the Accept button to finish the bridge setup with the Hue app.

You’ll need to use the Hue app to finish the bridge setup and connect to your lights

Now it’s time to pair the lights. On the Light setup page, tap the ‘+’ button in the bottom right-hand corner to add a new light. To find new lights, make sure that the lights are connected to a lamp and powered on. Tap the Search button to begin searching for connected lights.Since I already had three Philips Hue color lights from an old Hue setup, the Light setup page showed a total of five lights.

You can always use the device manufacturer’s app to further customize the experience, but since this post is primarily about setting up and using the stock Home app, that’s all we’ll need to use the Hue app for.

Back to the Home app

Once the lights are paired with the Hue bridge, you can head back to the Home app, where you’ll see each light listed on the Home tab.

All of my Philips Hue lights recognized by the Home app

Customizing the Home tab

Tap the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner of the Home tab to enter edit mode. Here you can rename your home, see available Home Hubs, invite others to control accessories in your home, change home wallpaper, add notes that all shared users can see, and remove the home.

You can edit all sorts of elements that relate to each Home you have configured

If you frequent more than one home featuring HomeKit-enabled devices, you can additional homes by tapping the Add Home button in the upper left-hand corner. This allows you to control HomeKit devices in multiple locations via the Home app.

Adding a new accessory to a home

To add a new accessory to a home, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner while on the Home tab, and then tap Add Accessory. When adding a new accessory, you’ll need to step back through the initial setup process.

You can add a new accessory from the Home tab

Customizing the Rooms tab

Once an accessory is configured, a room is added by default. Like the Home tab, the Rooms tab can be customized, and like homes, multiple rooms can be added. A room should correspond to an actual place in your house or on your property. For example, if I have a Philips Hue light installed in my office, it would be wise for me to create a separate room called Office.

Customizing and creating new rooms is an integral part of the Home app experience

Once on the Rooms tab, tap the List button in the upper left-hand corner to edit the current room. There, you can edit the room name and change room wallpaper. It’s a good idea to take a picture of the room so that it can be quickly identified as you’re swiping through rooms in the Home app.

While most people probably won’t be adding multiple homes, almost everyone will have two or more rooms. To add an additional room, tap the Add Room button in the upper-left hand corner. Once a new room is added, you can swipe between rooms while on the Rooms tab.

Adding a new accessory to a room

To add a new accessory to a room, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner, followed by Add Accessory. From there, it’s just a matter of going back through the initial setup process as covered in the beginning of this tutorial.

You can also add a new accessory from the Rooms tab

Customizing accessories

To get the most out of the Home app, it’s important to organize your accessories in a way that makes sense. In most cases, you’ll want to create separate rooms for each physical room or location on your property that contains a HomeKit-enabled device. You’ll also want to make sure to give your accessory a name that makes it easy to identify.

The Home app lets you customize accessory names, icons, and more

To customize an accessory, long-press on an accessory tile and tap the Details button at the bottom of the screen. From the accessory customization screen, you can choose a new icon, rename your accessory, set its location, include in favorites, and include it in the status page on the main Home tab.

The customize accessory page is also where you can go to Group an accessory with other HomeKit-enabled devices. Once an accessory is grouped, it is treated as a singular device.

Controlling accessories

While the Home app has lots of depth, its most important feature involves directly controlling the HomeKit-enabled accessories that you configure. The Home app features a lot of rich ways to go about controlling accessories in a very intuitive and fun way.

Accessories can be controlled in one or more of the following ways:

The Home app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch

The Home section of Control Center on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

3D Touch Quick Actions on the Home app icon for 3D Touch-enabled devices

Siri on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch or Apple TV

Automation via the Home app (requires always-on iPad or Apple TV)

…via the Home app

The most basic way to control an accessory is via the Home app itself. For example, if I wanted to toggle a light on or off, a simple tap on an accessory tile will do the job. For more fine-grained control, a long-press on the tile will reveal additional options. In the case of Philips Hue lighting, a long-press will reveal a dimmer interface that allows you to dim or brighten any given light.

Dimming a Philips Hue light

For accessories that support enhanced functionality, you’ll find additional options after long-pressing. For example, with my Hue colored lights, I see a Color button that allows me to customize the color of the Hue lights directly from the Home app interface.

HomeKit accessories can also be controlled via the Apple Watch app on watchOS 3. The Home app comes with an Apple Watch complication, but the complication is just a shortcut to the Home app itself. Still, it might be a good idea to set up a complication or at least add the Home app to the Dock since you’ll experience faster load times by doing so.

…via Control Center

A tap on an accessory tile will let users quickly toggle an accessory on or off without launching the Home app. A long-press on an accessory tile within Control Center provides extended functionality, such as the ability to dim a light or change its color.

Along with accessing favorite accessories established in the Home app, the Home section of Control Center lets users selects favorite scenes. You can toggle between favorite accessories and favorite Scenes by tapping the Scenes/Accessories button in the upper right-hand corner of the Home section of Control Center.

…via 3D Touch Quick Actions

…via Siri

Siri is one of the best ways to control HomeKit-enabled devices, because it can be performed from a variety of devices and from anywhere on the interface. Siri control works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and 4th-generation Apple TV.

Using Siri to turn off a light

Just say something like “Turn on my desk light” to control your devices via Siri. You can even get more specific by asking Siri to turn your office light purple or to turn your porch light brightness down to 50%. Siri is, by far, the most flexible way of going about controlling your HomeKit devices, because it is smart enough to recognize individual HomeKit accessories, rooms, and scenes.

Controlling HomeKit devices using the Apple TV and Siri Remote

You can control many HomeKit devices from a 4th-generation Apple TV as well, except for locks. Locks can only be controlled via an iOS device, presumably due to potential security issues.

…via Automation

We’ve yet to touch on Automation in this walkthrough, but this option allows you to automate HomeKit device actions based on specific criteria like location or time. Automation requires a 4th-generation Apple TV, or an iPad running iOS 10 that’s always on and always home. We’ll talk more about Automation near the end of this walkthrough.

Automate your devices by means of specialized criteria


Scenes are custom actions that generally involve two or more HomeKit-enabled devices in your Home. For example, you can create a scene called “Good Night” that turns off all of the interior lights and turns on the porch light. Scenes are different from groups because each accessory in a scene can still be controlled individually, and you can invoke different actions for each device.

How to create a new scene

On the Home or Rooms tab, tap the ‘+’ button in the upper right-hand corner followed by Add Scene. You’ll then be taken to the New Scene page.

Apple includes four suggested scenes to start with:

Arrive Home

Good Morning

Good Night

Leave Home

Users can also create their own custom scenes, with a customized icon and name, by tapping Custom at the bottom of the New Scene page. You can also customize any of the canned suggested scenes.

Scenes are a good way to fire off commands to multiple HomeKit accessories simultaneously

Once you arrive at the New Scene page, you can rename the scene, change its icon, and add or remove accessories from a scene. Accessories added to a scene can be further customized for that particular scene.

Once a scene is set up, shortcuts for it appear in various places, such as in Control Center

Apple includes a handy Test This Scene button near the bottom of the scene details for testing how a scene reacts. If you’re happy with the scene that you create, you can choose to Show in Favorites, which is enabled by default. Scenes added to favorites will appear in Control Center, on the Home tab in the Home app, and in the 3D Touch Quick Action popup.

Controlling accessories away from home

You can only interface with HomeKit devices while on your home Wi-Fi network, unless you have a device that acts as an always-on hub. The 4th-generation Apple TV or an iPad running iOS 10 can both work as a hub.

The 4th-generation Apple TV works well as a hub

To use off-network remote access, you’ll need to make sure that your devices are signed in to the same iCloud account. If you desire to use your iPad as a Home Hub, you need to go to Settings → Home on your iPad to ensure that the Home Hub option is enabled. If you’re using an Apple TV as a Home Hub, ensure that you’re signed in with the same iCloud account.

If you don’t own an Apple TV, you can use an iPad as a Home Hub

You can see a list of your Home Hubs by opening the Home app, tapping the Home tab, and tapping the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner. Under the Home Hubs heading, you’ll see a list of available hubs and the current status of each.

Check the status of Home Hubs via the Home app


My location changes

A time of day occurs

An accessory is controlled

A sensor detects something

To create a new Automated task, tap the Automation tab in the bottom right-hand corner of the Home app, followed by Create new Automation. Select any of the four available automation types on the New Automation page to begin building your automated tasks.

Building an automated task

Once you select your desired automation trigger, you can select the scenes and accessories to automate. You can mix and match scenes with accessories, and further customize those accessories as you build the automated task. Once completed, tap the Done button in the upper right-hand corner, and your automated task will be saved.

Completing the build of an automated task

Using Automation, I made it so that my porch light would turn off at sunrise and on at sunset. I could even change the light’s brightness via the granular brightness controls. Obviously, that’s pretty basic when it comes to automation, but if you have a variety of HomeKit-enabled devices, automation can get significantly more complex.

Inviting others to control your Home

If you have a lot of HomeKit-enabled devices, it goes without saying that you’ll probably want to share access with others in your household. Inviting others to control your home can also be useful for guests, house-sitters, etc.

As long as the person has an iOS device running iOS 10 with an iCloud account, they’ll be able to control designated aspects of your Home using their own device. Of course, people can also use the Apple TV’s Siri Remote to control various areas of the home without needing an invite.

To invite people to control your home from an iOS device, tap the Compass button in the upper left-hand corner of the Home app’s Home tab. Under the People heading, tap the Invite button to open the Add People page. Any family members that are found in your contacts will be instantly displayed for quick access. You can also invite people to control your home by using the To: field at the top of the page.

You can invite others to control the HomeKit accessories in your home

Once you have all of the people who you wish to invite added, tap the Send Invite button in the upper right-hand corner to send the invitation. Invited users will receive a push notification alerting them about the invitation.

Invited users will need to accept the invitation

Once an invitation is accepted, the “Invitation Pending” text below the invited user will disappear, and they’ll gain access to accessories in the Home.

By tapping on an invited person’s avatar, you can manage users permissions. User permissions consist of the ability to access the home from a remote location (off network) and to allow editing (adding or removing accessories, scenes, and other people.)

You can easily revoke invites by tapping the Remove Person button at the bottom of the individual people pages.


HomeKit has been around for several years now, but I feel like iOS 10 is its first mainstream introduction. Because Apple is placing HomeKit front and center with the new stock Home app, and because there is a nice assortment of HomeKit devices now available, it’s the perfect time to get started with home automation.

The Home app, while not the most intuitive app that Apple has made, is a really good app and handles most of the basic home automation needs. The app has room to grow with regard to it being an end-to-end buck-stops-here solution for HomeKit enabled devices, but it’s a wonderful start. I don’t like the fact that I had to bounce between two apps during the initial setup process of my Philips Hue Starter Kit, but once the initial configuration was finished, the Home app was able to meet nearly all of my needs.

Your experience with the Home app will largely depend on the types of HomeKit devices you use, but it seems as if Apple is serious about making the Home app, and thus HomeKit in general, a significant part of iOS 10.

Other iOS 10 how-to guides:

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Bitdefender 2023 Review: Solid Protection, With An Ai Parental Control Add

Bitdefender Total Security 2023 offers the same top protection we’ve seen in other iterations of this security suite. It adds to that a privacy anti-tracker browsing extension and a premium parental control service. The latter is the more controversial of the two features. It includes an AI-based monitor for your child’s communication that attempts to protect the child from cyberbullying without exposing the content of discussions to their parents.

Bitdefender Total Security 2023 is here promising better malware detection, data privacy, and parental controls. Bitdefender is always highly rated for malware detection, so it’s nice to see improvements beyond the basics. This year’s upgrades to parental controls are particulary interesting. They amount to an AI babysitter of sorts, which is interesting but may not be to everyone’s liking—it also costs a little bit more.

Note: This review is part of our 

best antivirus

roundup . Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.


The Protection section in Bitdefender 2023.

In our Bitdefender 2023 review last fall,  we looked at the app in detail. Since nothing is really new, we won’t re-hash that here. However, one annoyance that persists with Bitdefender 2023 is the aggressiveness of the Safe Files feature. This is Bitdefender’s ransomware protection that is supposed to prevent your files from falling victim to one of the more devastating forms of malware.

To protect your PC, Safe Files monitors certain folders for odd behavior. The idea being that if it detects files suddenly being encrypted or modified by an unknown app it can halt any ransomware in its tracks. Bitdefender also restricts which programs have access to the files earmarked for added protection, to protect against modification by a malicious program.

That sounds like what you’d want, but in my experience the protection is far too overzealous. In 2023, I had to turn it off just to carry out my day-to-day work. With Bitdefender 2023, I had a similar experience.

New for 2023: Anti-tracker browser extension


Bitdefender’s anti-tracker extension on Firefox.

If there’s one thing the world doesn’t need it’s another anti-tracker browser extension. There are tons of options from security companies and third parties, such as the open-source project uBlock Origin.

Bitdefender’s anti-trackers work the same as any other. You install them, and the extension displays a count of how many trackers are blocked on each webpage you visit.

Bitdefender’s extension by default doesn’t eliminate the company’s own special-offers tracker, but you can turn this off in the settings.

New for 2023: Parental Controls

On top of the usual controls, Bitdefender is offering Parental Control Premium for $45 per year. This new add-on features anti-predatory monitoring. Using artificial intelligence, Bitdefender scans your child’s communications over IM, text messaging apps, and social to flag concerning activity.


An example of Bitdefender’s Parental Control Premium alerts.

The program looks at language and the content of photos for evidence of issues such as cyberbullying, requests for TMI like social security numbers or addresses, inappropriate photo requests, and requests for meetings outside the house. Once Bitdefender flags suspicious behavior it alerts the parent that they may want to speak with their chúng tôi content from the child’s phone is ever shared with the parents, and Bitdefender never prevents a child from taking action on their device. It wouldn’t for example, prevent a picture from being sent.

The new parental controls cannot monitor text on iOS, but it can monitor pictures.

Even though the content of communications are not shared with parents, the company does upload text conversations to the cloud where they are analyzed for signs such as intent to harm and imbalance of power. Photos, however, always remain on the originating device and do not end up on Bitdefender’s cloud or on the parent’s device.

The big concern here is whether parents feel comfortable using this technology to monitor their children. A full-time monitor for all the communications of your child may not seem like a good idea, but for a child at risk of bullying it may be appropriate. Ultimately, it’s a question that parents must answer for themselves.

In addition to the new privacy extensions and parental controls, Bitdefender also added a microphone monitor that alerts you when apps want to use your mic.



The Dashboard in Bitdefender 2023.

AV-Comparatives tested Bitdefender from February through May 2023 in its real-world protection test. From 752 test cases, Bitdefender blocked 99.9 percent of threats and had two false positives.

For our in-house performance test, after a full scan with Bitdefender running, the test PC scored 2,459 on the PCMark 8 work conventional test. That’s about the same as the 2,461 we saw without Bitdefender installed.

For our second test, where the PC encodes a 4GB MKV HD video file to the Android tablet preset, it took nearly one hour and 16 minutes. That’s about the same score as we saw when Bitdefender wasn’t installed.

Bitdefender is as good as it was last time around, and if you’re interested in the parental controls, the new system offers a potential solution for those needs.

Homekit Weekly: New To Homekit? Here’s What Should Be In Your Homekit Starter Kit

Because my entire home is filled with HomeKit products, I often forget that some people are getting started with HomeKit and other smart home platforms, so I wanted to take some time this week to explain some basics of how to get started with HomeKit and what products should be your first purchases. Read on to learn more about HomeKit, and what items should be your first purchases in your Homekit starter kit.

HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

What is HomeKit?

Apple announced HomeKit in June 2014. It allows all home automation accessories/devices to work together in harmony with iOS. The API provides home automation developers to centralize all home automation without needing separate apps to access each device’s specific features. These devices include locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more.

In 2023, Apple introduced a new Home app that came with a modern look, relatively easy-to-use controls, and access to accessories and scenes from anywhere on iOS 10. Apple’s new built-in Home app arrived on the iPhone’s Home screen, plus you can access a ton of functions from the Lock screen or anywhere on iOS from the new Control Center once you have a HomeKit accessory set up.

In 2023, Apple released the HomePod. It was a way to interact with your connected home devices through Siri using a standalone device. In 2023, Apple announced that tvOS 14 would gain access to the Home app. iOS 14 is also bringing improvement to the Home app UI.

HomeKit allows for secure pairing with devices and the ability to control individual devices from a single application. It also makes it possible to group several home automation devices into scenes that allow for more natural control of any automation device in specific situations. One of the coolest features of HomeKit is the ability to control any home automation accessory with Siri based on specific commands or scenes previously configured with these devices.

HomeKit is similar to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa in that it’s a platform in which to control all of your smart home devices.

What is a Home Hub?

A Home Hub is a product that allows you to access your HomeKit setup remotely. The current products that can be used as a HomeHub are a HomePod, Apple TV, or an iPad (would need to remain plugged into power).

I have multiple of these devices, and they work together in a primary/standby situation. If one product goes offline for any reason, one of these others will take over as the Home Hub. While a Home Hub isn’t required for HomeKit, it does dramatically improve the experience.

HomeKit Starter Kit

So what are the best products to get started with as you want to add HomeKit products? While I have almost every category in my house, I will run through a few different options based on affordability and ease of installation.

Switched Outlets

Switched outlets are the most basic of HomeKit products to get started with as your first HomeKit purchase. Switched outlets allow you to take anything that plugs into and convert it to HomeKit compatible. In my house, we use lamps instead of using overhead lights. I love the VOCOlinc smart plugs for this use case. What I like about the VOCOlinc smart outlet is how quickly I can set it up. You can go from unboxing to installing a final firmware update in less than five minutes.

Light bulbs

If you want to change out some overhead lights with HomeKit enabled bulbs, I recommend the Philips Hue Starter Kit. I’ve picked up a number of these bulbs over the years, and I even have some of their outdoor flood lights. I use Hue bulbs with HomeKit automation to set them at a certain % of brightness in the morning as my motion sensors detect motion first thing in the morning.

Smart locks

No smart home product has impressed my wife more than the August Smart Lock. Since installing it late last year, it’s become something we’ve used every single day. I love how it will auto-unlock as we walk up to the door, and it’ll auto-lock after we leave. It was essential while I was having my hardwood floors refinished (water damage during a tornado in April) while we were on vacation. Every morning, I’d unlock the doors before the workers arrived, and I locked it after they left in the evening. Installation takes less than twenty minutes. I am using the 3rd generation August lock, but I’d pick the 4th generation if I were purchasing it today. It provides the same functionality but with a smaller form factor, negating the need for a bridge to access through the August app remotely.

Motion sensors

A HomeKit enabled motion sensor allows you to create useful automations based on activity in the house. An example of this would be to turn on a living room lamp is motion is detected in the living room. Another will be to set a Hue bulb to 30% if motion is caught between the houses of 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM. If you have the Philips Hue bridge, I recommend the Hue motion sensor. If you don’t, then I would recommend either the Eve motion sensor or the Fibaro motion sensor

Final thoughts on HomeKit starter kit

These categories are what I recommend if you are just getting started with HomeKit. Adding automations to your lights, outlets, and locks provide a high return on investment and are all easy to install. Once you complete these projects, you might want to progress to HomeKit cameras and HomeKit thermostats

Past HomeKit Weekly articles

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