Thanks to Apple’s HomeKit home automation system and the versatility of Siri, you can now control your home lighting with nothing but your voice. Read on as we demonstrate this using Philips Hue.
In order to control your smart home lighting you need a handful of things. First and foremost, you need an iOS device that both runs Siri and is updated to at least iOS 8.1 or above for HomeKit support.
You’ll also need a HomeKit-enabled light system. For demonstration purposes we are using the Philips Hue 2nd-generation system (which features an updated bridge that supports HomeKit).
Note: If you were a Hue early adopter you can keep your existing Hue bulbs but you will need to upgrade your 1st-gen Hue Bridge to a 2nd-gen model.
How to Set Up Siri Control for Philips Hue
Make sure you set this up on the iOS device in your household that the owner/parent/person in control of the home automation stuff uses and is logged into, since HomeKit is linked to your iCloud login. You wouldn’t want to use your child’s iPad to set up your HomeKit settings (if that child has their own iCloud ID), because then you’d always need to return to their iPad to make changes and you would have to share their HomeKit configuration with your other devices (instead of you, the controlling agent, sharing the HomeKit setup with them). If you do accidentally set up your HomeKit system under the wrong Cloud ID, don’t panic, Simply reset the HomeKit configuration on the device you erroneously used to setup your system.
To link the Hue Bridge to HomeKit and enable Siri control, start by opening up the Hue app and tap the settings button in the upper-left corner of the screen.
From there, select “Siri voice control”.
At the bottom, tap on “Pair bridge”.
If you haven’t yet set up HomeKit, you’ll be prompted to create a “home” and name it whatever you want. Hit “Create home” when you’re done.
Next, you’ll be prompted to scan the number on the back of the Hue Bridge unit, but you can also manually enter in the number by tapping on “Enter Code Manually”. Since my Hue Bridge is all the way downstairs (as are most of my other hubs), I have the codes written down on my computer and I just type them in manually, which is easier and quicker than running all the way downstairs just to scan the number.
Once you scan or enter in the code, it will take a few seconds to pair it. Once it’s done, you’ll be taken the the Siri voice control screen where you can manage which lights, rooms, and scenes you want to use with Siri, and which ones you don’t. Some may not sync with Siri properly, and you’ll get an orange dot off to the right. Tap on that to fix it.
From there, tap on the check boxes next to the rooms that have orange exclamation points to fix the sync. However, if you don’t want these rooms connected to Siri, you can just leave them be.
Once you’re done, go back to the previous screen and tap “Done” in the top-right corner to save changes and finalize the Siri voice control.
Different HomeKit-enabled systems and apps will have different methods of selection, but the general rule is that you can always select groupings (called scenes, rooms, or zones depending on how they are organized within the app) and/or individual components of the system like the separate light bulbs or fixtures.
How to Control Your Lights
Once you’ve gone through the hassle of setting up the physical system and jumped through the minor hoop of linking the Hue app to your HomeKit system, it’s just a matter of kicking back and issuing commands to Siri.
One important note before we proceed, some names can be tricky for Siri because they are part of other common commands. Siri, for example, desperately wants to parse out names and dates into contact actions and calendar actions.
As such, it’s just asking for a headache to name the bedroom lamp on your spouse’s side of the bed “Nicole Lamp” because half the time you say “Nicole” in a voice command Siri will want to do something related to Nicole’s contact information. The same goes for any words that sound like they’re related to calendar actions (today, tonight, Tuesday, you get the idea). Siri is way happier when your potential commands are very clear. Naming a scene “Movie Mode” or just “Movies” is much safer, because it is very unlikely to cause any Siri-related confusion.
With that in mind, you can use the following commands to communicate with Siri and your Philips Hue light system:
- “Turn all lights [on/off]”
- “Turn [light name] [on/off]”
- “Turn the [room] lights [on/off]”
- “Set [scene name]
- ” Set lights to [X %] brightness”
- “Set lights [color]” (Hue color bulbs only)
- “Set scene [scene name]” (adding “scene” to the command works well if you have a scene name that is tripping Siri up)
There may be others (Hue’s documentation doesn’t even include all of the above commands), but these are some we’ve tested and confirmed to work. You may discover some others as you experiment.