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Home app adding guest access features, hands-free door unlocking, robot vacuum support, more in iOS 18

2024 June 10
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Smart homes are about to get a lot smarter thanks to the new features that Apple is introducing in the Home app for iOS & iPadOS 18 later this Fall.

Whether you rely on smart light bulbs or smart appliances, you’re probably going to have some benefit to your everyday use thanks to all the upgrades that help you monitor your smart home and control your devices.

Guest Access

iOS 18 Guest Access in Home app.

Starting with iOS & iPadOS 18, the Home app will allow users to give guests access to certain features of a smart home via Guest Access.

Guest access will give users increased management over who can enter their home by more tightly integrating with smart locks, smart garage openers, smart alarm systems, and more. Users will be able to control the times during which certain guests may enter, how they can enter, and other customizable features on a per-guest basis, allowing for easier security management.

This may be extremely helpful for elderly who want to give their son or daughter access to their house, or for allowing certain friends and family to watch over your home while you’re away.

The ability to choose which features of a smart home that certain guests may access is also neat, as one guest may prefer entering via the front door, while another may prefer entering via the garage door. All of this can happen without tripping the security alarm, thanks to the fact that those guests will have authorized access at your fingertips.

This seems like an exciting feature for anyone who has bought heavily into the smart home space, but perhaps less so for people who still use ordinary locks and garage doors.

Hands-free Unlock

iOS 18 Home App Hands- Free Unlocking.

Imagine approaching your front door with an armful of groceries that you’ve just taken from the trunk of your car, only to be unable to open the door because your hands were full. It’s happened to me time and time again.

With the Hands-free Unlock feature in iOS & iPadOS 18, Apple’s Home app will detect when you’re close to the front door and it will automatically unlock for you so that you don’t have to fumble with your keys when your hands are already full enough. This works not only with your iPhone, which can be out, in your pocket, or in a purse, but also with an Apple Watch that you may be wearing.

For the more cautious people who worry about how criminals may take advantage of such a feature, be advised that Hands-free Unlock is an optional feature that you can enable or disable on demand.

Robot Vacuum Support

Siri robot vacuum support.

A long overdue addition to the Apple Home app is support for robot vacuums, which is finally coming in iOS & iPadOS 18.

I use a smart vacuum in my home because I’m too busy to pick up the vacuum. While I’ll do it if I absolutely have to, I prefer to let a mindless robot do this type of menial work for me. Unfortunately, while I can use an app to control and manage my smart vacuum, it hasn’t offered the level of integration with iOS or iPadOS that I’d come to expect from a ‘smart home’ experience. That’s going to change.

With iOS & iPadOS 18, smart vacuums will be supported by the Home app, allowing you to control them with Siri and voice commands like never before. This includes telling your smart vacuum to clean the entire house, or to spot clean a specific area.

You will also be able to monitor and control the smart vacuum directly from the Home app, such as power controls, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning modes, and charging status, among other things, right from the comfort of your iPhone’s native Home app.

It should also be pointed out that robot vacuums can be set up with s, which can help you schedule cleanings while you’re away from home so that the house is always clean when you come back home to it.

See Electricity Usage

See smart home electricity usage in the Home app in iOS 18.

iOS & iPadOS 18 are going to be incorporating an interesting feature into the Home app that will allow end users to see their electricity usage at a glance.

Usage will be shown in a time scale format, allowing you to compare your electricity usage over time and see when you’re consuming more or less power than usual.

It seems that this feature will initially only be available to Pacific Gas and Electric Company users, but we’d certainly hope to see this feature expand to other electricity providers in the future as it rolls out.

Are Smart Homes Smart Yet?

These are nice features to add to any smart home, and we’re excited to see some of them rolling out. I will admit I’m bummed not to see my electric company on the list of supported electricity companies for tracking electricity usage, but I expect that will change in the distant future as more companies sign on.

Still, making access easier for trusted people and being able to control more types of devices are nothing to scoff at. These are important upgrades for any iPhone or iPad user, and will be available starting this Fall.

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