Apple iOS 14 hands-on: Testing the Home app and Eufy’s Indoor Cam 2K

Apple iOS 14 hands-on
Apple iOS 14 hands-on

Apple’s Tuesday event brought new Apple Watch and iPad hardware, the Apple One Service Bundle – and software updates, including iOS 14, iPadOS 14, TVOS 14 and WatchOS 7. The software updates went live on Wednesday and, like so many other people, I kept updating my phone to get iOS 14 asap.

iOS 14 adds a variety of changes on your iPhone, but I’m focusing on the home app updates here.

The Home app is Apple’s landing page for its smart home platform, HomeKit. Different from Alexa and Google Assistant HomeKit has comparatively open platforms and has fewer product partners and integrations of your choice. That held HomeKit back in a way, however, others point to the focus on security and privacy as a sign of a superior smart home platform.

iOS 14 added some updates to the Home app that I wanted to try out alongside the HomeKit-enabled Eufy Indoor Cam 2K, a $ 40 indoor home security camera that I’m currently reviewing (full review coming soon).

The basics

The first time I opened the Home app after installing iOS 14, it came up with a what’s new in Home screen, including the fact that the app is now recommending smart home automation, all HomeKit automatically -Customizes compatible lighting products and uses photos of people tagged on your iPhone for security camera face recognition.

Apple also redesigned the layout of the Home app with iOS 14 and added activity zones to compatible HomeKit cameras. I can’t speak to the lighting updates as I don’t currently have any HomeKit enabled lights at home, but I will be using the Eufy camera to fix the other changes.

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On the Automations tab in the Home app.

Screenshot from CNet

I may not notice any significant design or layout differences as I currently only have two devices in my Home app – an Apple TV and the Eufy camera. Fortunately, I thought the Home app was relatively easy to navigate prior to iOS 14, and it seems Apple has continued that trend with this software update.

I also deleted the Eufy camera after updating to iOS 14 and then reinstalled it in the app – and did not receive any pop-up messages indicating possible automations. However, the app does offer automation prompts in the Automations tab and in the Eufy camera settings in the Home app, e.g. B. “People arrive / people leave / a time of day occurs” and other suggestions.

Wait, this is a little complicated

While the Home app layout is pretty minimal, it has been too complicated to add new features and settings with HomeKit in the past. Unfortunately, the same applied to the new facial recognition and activity zone features.

To get Face Recognition working, click the Start icon in the top left corner of the Start screen, select Startup Settings, then select Cameras and Doorbells. From there you should see a list of your cameras – the Eufy camera in my case – and something below that that says “Face Detection”. Click Face Recognition and check this option if you want to enable this feature. ICloud Photos must be enabled in order to use face recognition in the Home app. (It sounds simple, but I had to dig a lot to find these steps.)

If you don’t see the face recognition option, make sure your Apple TV or HomePod (regardless of which device you’re using as a HomeKit hub) is also up to date. I didn’t see the face recognition option in the app at first, even after getting iOS 14, but then I installed TVOS 14 on my Apple TV and it appeared immediately.

I haven’t turned on iCloud Photos on my personal phone either. When I tried to activate it, a pop-up window told me that I would have to pay for an iCloud storage upgrade to activate iCloud Photos (an upgrade costs $ 1 per month for 50GB of storage $ 3 each Month for 200 GB or USD 10 per month for 2 TB). I currently have around 70GB of photos and videos stored (I really need to clean my phone) which means I have to start paying $ 3 a month for iCloud photos to use (or even try) the face Detection function in the home app. Frustrating.

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It seemed straightforward at first, but it went from there.

Screenshots from CNet

Activity zones should show up in your camera’s settings in the Home app, but not in Eufy settings. In fact, when setting up the camera (after the iOS 14 update), the Eufy app displayed a popup saying, “According to Apple guidelines, if HomeKit is enabled: Activity zones will be disabled.” A list of other Eufy camera features that work with HomeKit not working.

I’ve reached out to Apple to clarify the activity zone issue and will report back on it when I learn more. Overall, I’m not impressed with this update, as the two main changes – facial recognition and activity zones – were either unwieldy and required a fee (and a complete overhaul of the photo and video storage on my phone) or didn’t appear as options in the app at all.

Stay tuned for my full Eufy camera review. By then, hopefully I’ll have more responses to my HomeKit complaints.

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