The latest batch of smart home products has been announced by Smart Home powerhouse Aqara, with some that are HomeKit compatible, but also some that aren’t, unfortunately, even though they’re products that take the company’s smart home lineup into interesting new areas.
First off is a new light panel – the Light Art Skylight H1 – that is designed to appear like a skylight, which in essence, is a large recessed square downlight with full-scale LED lighting designed to replicate daylight, right down to a ‘clear blue sky’ effect. There’s pretty much no information on this product at present, although a company representative told us it should be HomeKit compatible when released. Whether this product makes it to international markets, we’ve yet to see.
Next is a comfirmed HomeKit compatible product, the Aqara A100 Smart Lock. If you’ve followed Aqara in the last couple of years, you’ll be aware they’ve released quite a few smart locks, all generally designed for use in Asian and European markets that use mortice lock fittings, as opposed to deadbolts usually found in North America. This lock is no different in many ways, to the locks that have come before it, with a built-in keypad, fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth connectivity, standard key access, and NFC card access.
The lock is currently available in Mainland China for the discounted price of RMB1599 (standard price RMB2099) which roughly converts to US$250, but whilst the Chinese model has all of the aforementioned features, we’ve been reliably informed that the forthcoming international version will be the company’s first lock to make use of Apple HomeKey, which will allow iPhone users to unlock their door by simply bringing their iphone (or Apple Watch) close to the lock to open the door. The virtual ‘key’ for the lock is stored on your iPhone, inside your digital wallet alongside your credit and loyalty cards. Once again, we’ve no date on when the international version will be available, but considering the Chinese version is already on sale, we can be sure it has gone past the manufacturing stage.
The next product, which we’re told is also ‘probably’ HomeKit compatible is the latest model in the company’s lineup of LED display panels – the Aqara Thermostat Panel S3. Unlike the S1 Scene Panel, and the MagicPad S1, which are switches and hubs, repectively speaking, amongst other things, the S3 is designed as a thermostat first and foremost, with a dedicated screen and conectivity to replace a regular thermostat.
Onto two new products both of which are, unfortanately, not HomeKit compatible, although with Aqara Home being compatible with Siri Shortcuts, and many of their switches and sensors being cross-platform there are ways to get these working almost as though they were HomeKit devices.
The first is the new Pet Feeder C1, designed to automate feeding times for both your cat or your dog. The product uses Zigbee 3.0 as expected, has a large clear container area at the top, with a lid to drop in your pet’s food, a chute for the food to be dispensed from, and and integrated bowl for your pet to eat from, that is removable for cleaning. As this type of device doesn’t exist as a category in HomeKit, there’s no way to use in a fitting manner this way, but maybe with a future version of Matter, we’ll see a category for such a device.
The other non-HomeKit device, which in all honesty could probably have been made compatible, is the Tower Drying Rack H1 fwhich is clearly a radiator to dry your bathroom towels or clothing on, but with integrated ‘smarts’. The rack has a temperature range of 45-65ºC and uses Zigbee 3.0. It also comes with a small LED panel to control the temperature.
As you’re no doubt not going to be surprised to hear, there are more devices from Aqara both waiting to fly onto (and off) shelves, as well as newer products in the pipeline, many of which are slated for 2022 now, as we reach the holiday period, but things are once again getting exciting for the smart home, even if they aren’t all exactly HomeKit.