How to Share HomeKit Access with Family, Roommates, and Guests

How to Share HomeKit Access with Family, Roommates, and Guests

What’s the point of having the house of the future if your family members, roommates, or guests can’t take advantage of all its features? Share the future-is-now vibe by allowing their iCloud account to control your smart lights, thermostat, and more.

Why Would I Want To Do This?

HomeKit is the framework that links together all of the diverse HomeKit accessories in the growing stable of Apple-approved smarthome products. If you’ve upgraded parts of your home to take advantage of HomeKit-enabled accessories like smart bulbs, a smart thermostat, smart locks, or the like, then it’s only natural you’d want family members, roommates, or guests to get full use out of them too.

By default, however, the only person who can control all the HomeKit accessories is the person who set the system up; the administrative control is linked to their iCloud login. As such, if you want to grant access to anyone else in your home, you’ll need to invite them and authorize their iCloud account. The process of both adding and removing guest users is, thankfully, quite simple if you know where to look.

Once you’ve authorized their iCloud account they can use apps and Siri to control your home’s smart devices just like you can, issuing commands like “Hey Siri, set the thermostat to 72 degrees.”, “Set the scene to movie night”, or any other commands your accessories support.

What You’ll Need

Before we jump into the actual setup process, take a moment to ensure that you have everything ready to go. You’ll need at least one installed and configured HomeKit accessory (if you’re in the shopping mood, we can’t say enough good things about the new HomeKit-compatible Philips Hue system).

Other than that, you’ll need the iCloud ID of the person you wish to add, and they’ll need an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9.0 or higher, as well as copies of all the relevant apps used to control your HomeKit accessories. We’ll touch on that more in the section “How Guests Can Use Your HomeKit House”.

Finally, the only real hiccup you’re likely to run into is if you’ve accidentally set someone else up as the administrator (e.g. you set up your HomeKit gear on your kid’s iPad and now it is linked to their iCloud account). In such instances you’ll need to reset your HomeKit configuration so you’re the administrator.

How to Add Someone to Your HomeKit House

Once you’ve checked off the list in the previous section and you’re ready to go, adding someone to your HomeKit system is easy peasy. For the sake of brevity and clarity from this point forward we’ll refer to any person you are adding to your HomeKit system as a guest user.
Sending the Invitation

Grab an iOS device logged into the HomeKit administrator’s iCloud account and navigate to Settings. Scroll down until you see the entry for HomeKit. Select HomeKit to access your list of homes.

Select the home entry you wish to share with your guests.

In the sub-menu for the specific home you’ll find two entries: Allow Remote Access and Invite People. Note that even though Allow Remote Access is toggled on in our screenshot this is not a requirement for sharing HomeKit access among guests but simply the configuration of our HomeKit system. (Check out our tutorial on HomeKit remote access for more information if you’re interested in controlling your HomeKit accessories while away from home.)

To proceed, tap on Invite People.

In the next menu, simply enter the email address that serves as the iCloud ID of the guest you wish to add to you HomeKit home. Tap the “Add” button to send the invite.
Accepting the Invitation

On the opposite end of things, your guest should immediately receive an invitation to the HomeKit system. They’ll see a notification bar popup like the one below which they can click on to confirm the invititation.

Even if they miss the notification they can navigate to Settings > HomeKit and select “Accept” to join your HomeKit home.

At this point the guest has access to all of the HomeKit accessories you do and can begin using them.

How Guests Can Use Your HomeKit House

So your guest has accepted your invitation, but your work is probably not done. Your guests need to use the HomeKit system the exact same way that you do. HomeKit is simply a framework that binds all the accessories together–it is not the way the user directly controls the system. If you are using the Philips Hue light system, for example, you can say “Hey Siri, turn the lights off”. Siri understands that command not because your HomeKit system has learned the command but because the Philips Hue app on your phone gives Siri the ability to understand the command.

Thus, even if you add your spouse’s iCloud account as a guest HomeKit user your spouse cannot automatically say “Hey Siri, turn the lights off” unless you have configured their iPhone with the same apps, with the same HomeKit rooms, zones, and scenes.

So, you (or your guest) must now set up the apps on each of their devices to give them whatever control you want them to have. For example, if you want everyone in your household to have control of the smart lights, you need to install the app on all their devices. If you want just you and your spouse (but not your children) to have HomeKit control of the thermostat and locks, then install the control apps for those devices only on your devices.
How to Remove Guests from Your HomeKit Home

In most cases, such as granting access to a spouse or child, you likely won’t ever need to revoke someone’s access. In the case of a roommate moving out or a house guest heading home after a long stay, however, you’ll want to remove access so they can no longer control your HomeKit system. This step is extra important if you have remote access enabled for your HomeKit system as the guest user could accidentally trigger HomeKit commands from afar.

To revoke guest access, navigate back to the Settings > HomeKit menu and select the home in question (we’re repeating the exact same steps you used to invite the guest).

There you can see who you have invited to the home as well as remove them. To remove an entry from the list tap on the “Edit” button in the upper right corner of your home entry. This will switch the list to editing mode. Tap on the red icon beside the name of the guest you wish to remove.

Select “Delete” to remove the entry.

As an alternative method, you can also tap on the name of the user which will pull up their detailed contact information and select “Stop Sharing” from the contact entry but we find it easiest (especially if removing more than one user at once) to use the main screen as detailed in the screenshots above.

That’s all there is to it: with trip into the HomeKit settings and some basic application setup on your guest’s iOS device you can share your awesome home-of-the-future gear with everyone in your household.
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