You have already gained experience with the first HomeKit devices and successfully created automations via the Apple Home app. But now you’re wondering whether it makes sense to use apps from third-party developers as well, and what advantages they offer. In this post, we’ll compare the Apple Home app to other HomeKit apps like Eve, Home+, and Controller, and show you why it’s worth using at least one additional app besides Apple’s.
The Apple Home app is the default HomeKit app that comes pre-installed on every iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch as well as Mac. It provides basic functions for managing and controlling accessories, scenes and automations.
If you want to add a new accessory, turn on the lights or create a simple automation, the Home app serves you well. The app is designed to be easy to use, so that as many users as possible can cope with it.
The app also offers some exclusive features, including Adaptive Lighting, HomeKit Secure Video, notifications, and access to speakers and TVs, that Apple has to date denied other HomeKit app developers.
But you won’t find user management in any other HomeKit app either. Inviting people is only possible via the Apple Home app. It is a great pity that Apple does not make these features available to other developers, because this way there will never be a fully comprehensive HomeKit app. Some functions are only possible via the Home app, others require an app from a third-party developer.
So, if you want to do simple tasks or use exclusive features of the Home app, the Apple Home app will meet your needs. On the other hand, if you want to get more out of your HomeKit setup, you should take a closer look at the apps below.
Eve is a HomeKit app from the eponymous manufacturer of HomeKit accessories. The manufacturer is known for quickly adapting new technologies. So not only was Eve one of the first ever manufacturers of HomeKit devices, but it was also one of the first to release Thread devices and later provide Matter updates for those accessories.
Even though Eve offers its own HomeKit accessories, they are not a prerequisite for using the app. However, the focus is clearly on the company’s own accessories. For these, Eve offers additional settings, charts for evaluating historical data, and schedules that are stored directly on the accessories. In addition, the company’s own products are advertised with a direct purchase option in some places.
Still, Eve offers arguably the best free HomeKit app. Complex automations can already be created, even if not all triggers are available. For example, the battery status is missing. Creating automations should be easy even for new users, as Eve guides step-by-step through the process.
Another plus is the display of the Thread network. No other HomeKit app offers such a view. If you have Thread in use, you can get a good overview of your accessories and how they are connected. However, the information presented is very technical. For advanced users, the Eve app is a good choice.
Home+ is one of the oldest HomeKit apps and was available when Apple itself did not have its own app. Since then, the app has mapped all the functions available in HomeKit and for some time now has also offered some features beyond that.
Thus, accessories can be controlled as well as complex automations with multiple triggers and conditions can be created. For some, it might be particularly interesting that automations can be created without the creation of separate scenes. At least almost, because Home+ still creates scenes in the background that the app simply hides. In other HomeKit apps, the scenes with cryptic names are still visible. If you use another HomeKit app in addition to Home+, this can quickly lead to clutter.
However, Home+ scores in terms of clarity when it comes to displaying automations. Besides the name, compact icons are showcased, visually representing the triggers and actions. Furthermore, the accessories, structured as tiles, echoes the familiar layout of Apple’s Home app, providing an intuitive interface for new users. Predefined filters also let you quickly view specific types of accessories, such as lamps or cameras.
In addition to HomeKit-specific features, Home+ also offers several other functions. Among other things, the app makes it easy to back up data and quickly replace individual devices. Additionally, charts can be displayed for some Eve devices. Home+ is available as a one-time purchase on the App Store.
Controller for HomeKit
Controller for HomeKit is probably the most comprehensive HomeKit app. Unlimited access to all HomeKit characteristics of your accessories allows you to create complex automations. But Controller always goes one step further and offers you numerous other useful features beyond HomeKit.
You can not only duplicate automations to create similar automations faster, but also archive them. With it you can easily hide automations and scenes for the Christmas season, the rest of the year. In addition, Controller enables the creation of custom notifications that can be integrated into automations. If you want to be notified about a window that has been open for over 30 minutes, Controller can notify you.
The app also makes it easy to manage your HomeKit setup. With the backup function, you can easily replace accessories with new ones without having to recreate automations and scenes. In addition, the app provides a secure storage solution for HomeKit and Matter codes, which are essential for re-setting up the devices.
With its maintenance features, Controller helps you keep an eye on the health of your HomeKit setup. You can quickly identify unreachable accessories, dead batteries, broken automations and more. Furthermore, logs allow a thorough investigation of unexplained behaviors of your accessories and automations.
If you have numerous devices in use, intelligent folders help maintain an organized overview. Here, you can set up individual filters for accessories, scenes, and automations. This can be used, for example, to display all lamps or filter automations that control the heating.
Moreover, Controller offers much more, including the integration of NFC tags, flexible workflows, a documented URL scheme, widgets, a native Mac app, and more. In short, if you want to maximize the potential of your HomeKit setup, Controller is an excellent complement to Apple’s standard Home app. Controller for HomeKit can be downloaded for free from the App Store. Some features require either a one-time purchase or a subscription.
HomeKit apps in comparison
Speakers & TV
HomeKit Secure Video
Charts for Eve accessories
Unlimited access to all characteristics
Overall, the range of HomeKit apps offers a variety of features and benefits that vary depending on individual user preferences.” The Apple Home app is perfect for users who want to focus on basic functions or use special Home-exclusive features. For those who want more control over their accessories or are looking for advanced automations, alternatives like Eve, Home+ or Controller could be good options.
Our comparison shows that there is no fully comprehensive HomeKit app. Day-to-day control and simple automations can be handled via Apple’s Home app. For more complex automations, the free Eve app or the paid Home+ app is already sufficient. However, if you want to get the most out of your HomeKit accessories, you should take a closer look at Controller for HomeKit.