My apartment is almost ready to be smart

For the past six years I have endlessly coveted over Phillips Hue lights. One of my good friends has them in his apartment, and I ask him about it every six weeks or so, delving into research that I've done over and over before, and watching three or for video reviews. I've found alternative products, both by long standing companies and new companies that joined the smart-space through crowdsourcing. I've done research. I mean, I have done the research. 

And it never felt right. I purchased a strip of LED lights for my room, but they weren't smart. I manually operate them with a small remote that I lose regularly. My lamps don't talk to my phone, and I don't have a home security system that notifies me when someone opens my front door. 

The switch to smart homes in inevitable, there's no denying that. Sure, people still love reading hardbound books, and drawing on very thin slivers of compacted wood. And printers seem to be running on some sort of technology invented in the 1920s. But, it will happen. I want it so badly, but I've been waiting for the right time. In higher income areas homes and apartment buildings have smart home systems already integrated when built. And the cost of smart home devices is dropping rapidly, and will continue to drop.

Earlier this year Apple made HomeKit much more accessible to developers. Prototyping and developing products that have HomeKit integration doesn't require specific license (at least until they want to sell them), which means in the coming months and years there will be a massive increase in smart home devices entering the market. 

Another thing that happened in 2017 is that my sister got married. Her husband and her both owned an Apple TV 3rd gen. So, one was passed down to me. I had wanted an Apple TV for a while, but I never quite felt like the investment was worth it. Admittedly, I complained a lot while setting it up - logging in to many different services was a pain. I ran into a lot of errors and problems updating, but once I got it set up I fell in love. I seamlessly AirPlay my MacBook Pro to my TV to use it as an external display, easily can queue YouTube videos, and have content from 8 different streaming platforms in one app. I know it's not the only device that can handle tasks like this, but the seamless interaction between everything is honestly a pleasure to experience.

This small change made a big difference in my leisure time, and it got me thinking about smart devices again. Google Home, Amazon Echo, and HomePod all seem to be devices heading in the right direction, but each one leaves me wanting more. I've been holding out on buying a speaker for my living room, and I think if Siri gets the major update that is constantly around the rumor corners I'll dive in without hesitation. Right now none of those devices feel worth the investment. The last thing I want to do is spend $150 on a device that won't provide the experience I am hoping for. Even with Amazon's new line of Alexa enabled products, I still feel like Alexa integration into our lives is forced. I admittedly hardly ever use Siri on my iPhone or Apple Watch. 

So this is where I am at: today I invested in smart outlet adapters by iHome. Soon I will set my heater on a schedule controlled by my phone to turn on and off at times deemed appropriate. And I have been looking into Samsung's SmartThings home security system for a little peace of mind.

HomeKit devices are starting to flood the market, and it's a good thing for consumers. It means that in the very near future the competition for smart home devices will dramatically increase. If anyone was going to start investing in smart home devices, the time is very soon. But...maybe not now. I want my "artificial intelligence" assistant to be a bit smarter before I'm ready to commit. In the mean time I'm starting small. I wirelessly use my TV as a display for my MacBook, My toes are warm in the cool Southern California mornings, and my bedroom lamp turns on when I get near my apartment.