HomeKit News: iOS 10.2 gains Push Notifications, Fibaro launches first-of-its-kind Flood Sensor

It’s been a big week for HomeKit, and it isn’t over yet! With the release of iOS 10.2, HomeKit can finally send you real-time notifications of sensor-reported events, such as doors opening and closing. And Fibaro, a home automation vendor with an entire line-up of smarter home products, has launched its first HomeKit-compatible devices, including the first-ever HomeKit water leak sensor.

While various sensors for HomeKit have been available since 2015, they hadn’t been terribly useful until this past summer. After the release of iOS 9.3, HomeKit-enabled sensor vendors updated their firmware and apps to take advantage of new, real-time updates enabled in Apple’s new mobile operating system. So instead of a user having to manually check on the status of a sensor, automations could finally be built to trigger a scene if, for example, a certain temperature was exceeded or a door or window was opened.

But unfortunately, that still proved to be somewhat useless except in certain cases where a user could enable enough conditions to make it helpful, e.g., “If it’s after midnight and I’m home and the front door opens, turn on all of my lights and sound an alert.” Of course, there is no “sound an alert” option nor is there a “home” or “away” state in HomeKit yet, so that helpful scenario isn’t possible as of right now.

With this week’s launch of iOS 10.2, Apple has given the HomeKit masses another helpful home automation morsel: real-time push notifications. These are currently limited to certain actions, and cannot be configured other than to turn them on or off in the “Details” pane of a device or sensor (think: door/window contact sensor.) If you turn them on, you can’t control whether you’d receive notifications from device all the time, or perhaps only if you’re away from home. For those with very large homes, this could indeed be helpful, even if a user is already at home. For those with smaller homes or apartments, and especially singles, it would be helpful to turn on notifications while only away from home (specifically to know what’s going on with doors and windows.)

Push notifications are turned off by default for the few devices that support them. To turn them on, launch the Apple Home app and long press / 3D touch on the device you'd like to enable notifications, tap "Details" at the bottom and scroll down the details screen to "Status and Notifications". If notifications are supported for that device, an "Allow Notifications" option will appear underneath "Include in Status". Just turn it on to enable notifications and you're ready to go. To test it out, trigger something on the device (motion, open/closed state, etc) and you'll see the notification appear, depending on how you have "Home" notifications setup on your iOS device. These notifications run whether you're on your own home's Wi-Fi network, or are away from home and have an Apple TV that is relaying HomeKit information back to your iPhone or iPad with mobile data capability.

With Apple now pushing out regular iOS updates that contain more than just new emojis, HomeKit will continue to grow in capabilities faster than just being updated during the large software releases in the fall.

Learn more about everything that’s included with iOS 10.2.

In HomeKit product news, Fibaro announced today (nice timing, guys!) it was finally joining the HomeKit club with its first three sensors that work with Apple’s home automation platform, each with multiple capabilities built-in. Their announcement is quite notable since they’ve launched the first-ever flood sensor that’s compatible with HomeKit, which, paired with iOS 10.2, can send you realtime push notifications of water leaks in addition to activating HomeKit scenes.

The Fibaro Flood Sensor also has a temperature sensor on-board, to let you know if perhaps a remote home of yours (and its pipes) is about to freeze. It also can detect tampering (movement) with an on-board accelerometer.

Their HomeKit-enabled Door/Window Sensor is similar in size and shape to other open/closed sensors for doors, windows, gates and more, but like the flood sensor, also measures temperature. This can give you a more accurate picture of the temperature conditions in and around your home, and perhaps one day work to automatically adjust your HomeKit-connected thermostat.

Fibaro’s third new product is their Motion Sensor, which detects movement, temperature and light intensity. It uses a special LED-based indicator in the form of an eye that changes color based on sensor activity. This multi-sensor device also has an accelerometer like the flood sensor to detect tampering. Would that mean that the “eye” would turn red (HAL 9000, anyone?) if it’s tampered with? Even if it is just a pleasant blue most of the time, that still might be a little creepy. And, of course, it’s HomeKit-compatible.

Fibaro’s refreshed app will include HomeKit support and offer additional functionality and advanced features for these three new sensor products, such as sounding an alarm if tampering is detected with the flood and/or motion sensors, something HomeKit can’t natively do right now. The app update doesn’t appear to have launched but should be available at the same time the products go on-sale.

All three of Fibaro’s new sensor products are battery-based and use Bluetooth LE for communications back to your iOS device or to your Apple TV (for remote access when you’re not home.) Fibaro expects to have the products available by the end of this month, and we’ve already added them to our ever-growing List of HomeKit Products.

Learn more about Fibaro’s new line-up of HomeKit sensor products.