How to Control “Secure” Devices without Authentication

Welcome to HomeKit 101, our guide to navigating the Home App, Creating Automations and More within the HomeKit Universe.

Smart Locks and Garage Door Controllers, both extremely useful devices in the smart home, can sometimes be, well, not so useful due to restrictions built into HomeKit. These device types are classifed as “secure devices”, which will only allow them to be toggled with passcode or biometric authentication on iOS. This means that a garage door will not open unless your iPhone is unlocked, and for good reason as this would allow anyone who grabs your phone to potentially have access to your home. However, there may be times where it is simply too inconvenient to pull out the phone to accomplish this task, such as when your hands are full when walking up to the door, or when you are busy around the home, and just want to yell to Siri via a HomePod to open the garage door.

Of course, when there is a will, there is a way. Now before we begin, it cannot be stated enough that having these actions can and will open the door for others to access your home, especially for those with HomePods, so please keep this in mind. In this example, let’s say that we want to be able to unlock the front door via a HomePod when a family member arrives home, such as a child, who does not have access to an iOS device as of yet. To do this we will need 2 devices, as well as the aforementioned HomePod. The first device needed is obviously a HomeKit enabled smart lock such as the August Lock already set up. The second device is a device, such as a smart plug (any device can be used, such as a light bulb) with nothing plugged into the actual plug itself. At this point you may want to rename the second device to something such as “Front Door”. Now that we have our devices, it is time to set it all in motion.

On iOS 12:

Open the Home App

Tap on the “Automation” tab at the bottom

Tap the “+” icon

Tap on “An Accessory is Controlled”

Select the smart plug (or other device) that you have dedicated for this automation

– Tap “Next”

Select “Turns On”

Tap “Next” (or set specific times or people options if desired)

Tap on the device that you wish to open or unlock

Tap “Next”

Ensure that the device is set to “Open or Unlock” (this may require you to tap on the device tile

Tap on “Done”

That is it! Now you can simply tell Siri on a HomePod or iOS device to “Turn on the Front Door” and this will unlock the door. If desired, you can create a second automation using the above steps to turn off the smart plug used when the door is locked, which will prevent you from having to manually turn off the smart plug. You can also set the above automations to trigger a scene dedicated for these actions as well. I would also suggest moving the dedicated device, such as the smart plug, to a remote location where it will not be accidentally toggled, as well as not having in listed in your favorites in the Home App. Again, please keep in mind that there are security risks involved when using this method, so ensure that only you or your family knows the proper terminology or device names used.

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