Apple has had a few annoyances over the years, but HomeKit is particularly frustrating: a few years later, it’s still a mess disguised as an intuitive smarthome platform.

CONNECTED: What is Apple HomeKit?

HomeKit was introduced in iOS 8 back in 2014 as a way to control SmartHome devices from your iPhone from apps or Siri. One of the big benefits is the setup process where you can simply scan the HomeKit code printed on the device and your iPhone will recognize it and set it up right away.

HomeKit has evolved since then, including the addition of the Home app, which gives you a central location on your iPhone to control everything in your home.

Unfortunately, this is where most of the HomeKit jokes end. It was a promising structure in which many users believed that Apple would take over the smart home sector. However, it was anything but. While the smart home industry has thrived in the last couple of years, with the release of new smart home hubs and voice assistants, HomeKit has remained rather stagnant… and frustrating.

HomeKit lacks device selection

While the list of HomeKit-enabled devices is constantly growing, it’s still lacking (thanks to Apple’s strict hardware requirements). There are many popular SmartHome products that still do not support HomeKit, including the Nest Thermostat line and Belkin WeMo, which are some of the most recognizable SmartHome products on the market.

There aren’t that many HomeKit-compatible products out there, but the fact that you have to severely limit your options in order to get something that supports HomeKit is pretty frustrating when you’re trying to build your smart home.

Conversely, SmartHome hubs such as Wink and SmartThings support huge number of devices, as are voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. This makes your smartphone better than HomeKit.

Apple’s Home app is very buggy and frustrating

The lack of devices is not even my biggest problem. My biggest problem with HomeKit is that it doesn’t work properly from the start. It’s so bad that even the best fighter won’t be able to get rid of all the bugs, and the installation process can be frustrating and cumbersome even when it’s supposed to be simple and easy.

For starters, the Home app (which took forever even for iPhones and iPads) isn’t all that great. It’s simple and easy to use once you’ve got everything set up and up and running and when everything is working properly, but the last two parts are what can get a little frustrating.

For example, when I add Hue lights to the Home app, it doesn’t import no information from the Hue app, so I have to rename all the lamps and re-place them in the rooms. Not only that, but all of my Hue dimmer switches show up with the same generic name, so it’s impossible to know which one is which, since «Identify Accessory» does nothing for dimmer switches. Also, switches remain completely useless once set up until you set them up. And you guessed it, HomeKit doesn’t import any of these configurations from the Hue app.

Perhaps my biggest gripe is that you can’t just show all your devices and accessories on one screen — if there’s a particular device you’re looking for, you need to select the room it’s in first. Of course, you can fix this by simply adding each device to Favorites, but that also kind of defeats the purpose of having Favorites in the first place.

RELATED: How to build your first smart home (without getting overwhelmed)

Also, half the time HomeKit reports that my Philips Hue Bridge is not responding. I can just connect to it from the Hue app and control my lights from there, but the Home app has «No Response». And when I went to reset the connection, I scanned the HomeKit code on the back of the Hue Bridge and HomeKit thought it was my Ecobee3 thermostat. Great job, Apple.

This is not just about me: my colleagues have similar problems with HomeKit. One of my colleagues noted that his smart lock constantly turns off, and light bulbs often disappear in the interface. (You’ll see in the screenshot above that my thermostat shows «No Response» — I didn’t set that, it’s just that HomeKit was having problems with the day I wrote this article.)

Of course, the error can happen with any SmartHome platform and your experience may be different. But HomeKit seems to be a department that Apple is constantly sidelining, with the goal of just keeping things warm and not really cooking them. So I wouldn’t be surprised if HomeKit never becomes a well-oiled SmartHome platform worth using.

What should you use instead

If you have a similar experience as I did with HomeKit, it’s best to just stay away from it right now and use something else.

If you want to use voice commands to control SmartHome devices throughout your home, you don’t need to use Siri. In fact, both Alexa and Google Home would be better choices. You can buy an Echo Dot or Google Home Mini for $50, sometimes less if there are holiday sales. (Many people also sell these devices for a pretty cheap price.) These devices are especially great because you don’t need a phone to use them—they’re standalone voice assistants ready for your commands 24/7.

CONNECTED: How to know if a smarthome device works with Alexa, Siri, or Google Home and Assistant

Plus, by not sticking with HomeKit, you get a much wider array of SmartHome products to choose from. You still need to make sure everything you buy works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Wink, or whatever platform you settle on, but these lists much longer than HomeKit due to Apple’s hardware requirements.

If you decide to take your whole smart home more seriously, you’ll need a separate smart home hub, which gives you tons of extra features like automating devices (rather than just being able to control them manually).

RELATED: SmartThings vs. Wink vs. Insteon: Which SmartHome Center Should You Buy?

Sure, HomeKit can do automation, but to do that, you’ll first need an Apple TV or iPad as a «hub». Even so, you still can’t use things like door sensors, motion sensors, and more to create complex automation and device-to-device interactions, and that’s where the «easy to use» HomeKit mantra gets in the way.

After all, HomeKit must become an amazing smart home platform, especially for novice users who want to immerse themselves in this technology. Unfortunately, HomeKit is simply too many bugs and frustrations to be reliable, and it will cause more headaches than it’s worth. And due to Apple’s lack of interest in the smart home market, HomeKit just isn’t worth the investment for users who are serious about smart home technology… at least for now.

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