The HomeKit system in the Automated Home is building nicely. The latest edition is the Eve (formerly Elgato) ‘Degree’. A small 54mm rounded square in sleek anodised aluminium that tracks temperature, humidity and air pressure.
As with all the Eve gear setup is a 30 second process with your iOS camera reading it’s serial number and pairing to your system. The Degree is IPX3 certified (kinda splash-proof) so theoretically could be mounted in a sheltered location outside. Indeed it’s referred to as a ‘Connected Weather Station’ by Eve.
HomeKit devices use Bluetooth and that means no hub or bridge is required. One of the other advantages of using Bluetooth Low Energy is the devices ability to run off a battery for a long time, with the CR2450 cell in Degree said to last for up to a year.
However, as standard, you only have access to your devices while you are within Bluetooth range. For remote access to all the features of HomeKit while away from your home you’ll need an Apple TV 4th gen or later, or an Apple HomePod, or an iOS 11 capable iPad.
If you have a larger home then you’ll also need to consider the current lack of a Bluetooth range extender.
There are 2 apps that you can use with Degree to monitor your temperature, humidity and air pressure. Apple’s own HOME app, which is pretty terrible, and Eve’s own app which is miles better.
Measurements are recorded 144 times per day (every 10 minutes) and you can display graphs for all three values. While turning your iOS device into landscape mode provides a larger display, you can only slide along the timeline, not zoom in or out like you can do with the Netatmo app graphs for example. However a nice feature is the ability to easily emailing yourself a CSV file and do what you want with the data.
The Degree’s real USP though is its screen. Unlike most sensors in this market, you can glance at its display to see the temperature of your room rather than having to look it up on another device like your phone. Pressing the button the back will cycle through displaying the other values too.
You’ll need ambient light in the room in order to read this display, but it’s the lack of a built-in back light that means Degree can run for so long on its battery.
In the Eve app you can setup logic events called Rules to automate tasks. These are based on Triggers, which can also be with or without Conditions that call upon Scenes.
In the case of the Degree module you can use the Temperature or Humidity value as a trigger for other HomeKit actions.
Strangely Apple currently limits which types of HomeKit devices can send push notifications. It seems entirely reasonable to want to send yourself a notification when your bedroom temperature drops below a certain value for example. But only specific types (locks, doorbells, door/window contacts, motion sensors and air quality monitors that are based on CO2) can do this. The Eve Door and Window and Eve Motion are both capable of sending push notifications. Hopefully this is something that Apple will sort out in a future update.
Apple are also adding their Home app to the new version of macOS Mojave which will be released next week.
While this will bring HomeKit control to the Mac desktop, it seems to be an instance of the iOS Home app running in an emulator.
There doesn’t appear to be a publicly available API at launch so for now there’s no way for Eve to create their own Mac App.
Siri voice control is another great feature of HomeKit devices, giving you the ability to query your system without having to navigate to the app and drill down to the info.
The Degree is a doddle to setup and use, but it’s this sensor’s ability to show you the temperature at a glance, without having to use your phone, that is its real win.
If you’re an iOS user and already own one of the units required for remote access, then the Eve Degree is a great little device that adds functionality and style to any room. Available now for around £60.00.
-18 °C – 55 °C / 0 °F – 130 °F
0% – 100% Humidity
260 – 1260 mbar / 7.7 – 37.2 inHg
± 0.3 °C / ± 0.54 °F
± 3% Humidity
± 1 mbar / 0.03 inHg