As thoroughly integrated as HomeKit can be for iPhone and iPad owners building a smart home, there is a recurring problem: compatibility with the wider world of accessories available to Amazon Alexa and Google Home users. Here’s how to use Homebridge to better maximize Apple’s platform.
WHAT IS HOMEBRIDGE?
Homebridge is free, open-source software that spoofs HomeKit into supporting non-HomeKit accessories from brands like Ring and Nest. You need to install server software on an always-on device like a PC, Mac, or Raspberry Pi, as well as plugins for the kinds of accessories you’re trying to add.
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What is Homebridge and how does it improve HomeKit?
Essentially, Homebridge is free open-source software that emulates the HomeKit API. You install the server software on an always-on (and always-connected) device like a PC, Mac, or Raspberry Pi, and then plugins for the kinds of accessories you’re trying to install. Within the Apple Home app, Homebridge is treated as if it were just another bridge or hub.
The result though is that accessories previously limited to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or even Samsung SmartThings can be controlled through Apple Home and Siri. That includes things like Ring cameras, Nest thermostats, and Kasa smart plugs, complete with contextually appropriate controls. You can search the Homebridge.io website to see if someone has created a plugin for your particular accessories.
How to install Homebridge
Homebridge’s primary platforms are Windows 10, macOS, Raspberry Pi OS, Linux, and Docker. While exact instructions will vary, the always-on/always-connected component is critical across the board. If you install Homebridge on a PC, for example, but shut the machine off every night, you’ll lose access to linked accessories during that window.
For this reason a Raspberry Pi is often considered the best Homebridge platform, since it’s cheap and compact computer that’s far less power-hungry than a PC or Mac. Homebridge.io provides instructions on how to flash the Homebridge Raspberry Pi image to an SD card or otherwise install the software on your Pi.