HomeKit what does a homekit hub actually do?

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by joeblough, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. joeblough macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2006
    is a homekit hub just supposed to allow control of BLE homekit devices from your wifi network? or can a hub also maintain bluetooth connections to your various devices?

    i set up an ipad as a hub and connected it to a koogeek window/door sensor. that all seems to work - i can access the sensor from anywhere in the house, get notifications on my phone, etc. i wanted to try replacing the ipad with my gen3 appleTV, but just telling it to be a hub does not seem to work - if the ipad is off the koogeek BLE sensor is not available. this makes sense, as i assume the BLE pairing is one-to-one. so maybe i'm misunderstanding what an appleTV homekit hub is supposed to be able to do.

    any homekit experts know?

  2. JBaby, Nov 12, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018

    JBaby macrumors member


    Jun 14, 2015
    I’m not an expert by any means. However, I do own a couple of HomeKit devices, including Koogeek. In my experience the tv 3 just isn’t up to the task of being a home hub. It’s been a long time since I had an tv 3. But when I did it gave me problems. I don’t know what it is that makes them insufficient to the task. In my opinion home hubs should be a HomePod or tv 4/4K because some HomeKit features can only be accessed with a HomePod or tv 4/4K. I don’t have a HomePod so I can’t speak on that. I’ve never used my iPad as a hub because my iPad isn’t a stay at home device.
  3. joeblough thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2006
    hm, maybe the atv3 does not have the low energy bluetooth radio. so are you using the atv4 as a hub? are your koogeek devices bluetooth low energy?
  4. JBaby, Nov 12, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018

    JBaby macrumors member


    Jun 14, 2015
    I bet the tv 3 doesn’t have LE Bluetooth. I just looked up your Koogeek window sensor and it requires tvOS 10.1 or later. tv 3 doesn’t run tvOS.

    I do have LE BT devices, but they aren’t Koogeek.
  5. mritech macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2015
    I use an Apple TV 4K and that allows you to communicate with you’re HomeKit while you are away from you’re network even sleep mode lets it transfer info.

    This will let you use a non WiFi connection I have mine to turn on certain lights, after sunset, when myself or my wife arrives home and it will do it using cellular when we’re close due to the gps location of you’re phone and that’s way before I’m with in my home WiFi range
  6. joeblough thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2006
    i think what i have is not an appletv3 then, because it is running tvos12 now - i updated it last night. anyway whatever it is, it's the apple tv that's immediately before the apple tv 4k. so it's not that old.

    ok i guess i thought a homekit hub, being always-on, was intended to pair with the BLE devices you might have instead of your phone or whatever, but maybe that's not the case. i can see that while i'm away from home and on cellular that i can read the status of my door sensor, so that much is working.

    looks like i am stuck with leaving the old iPad in the garage to be connected to the koogeek sensor.
  7. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    Correct. Functionally, there is no difference between using an iPad as the homekit hub, or AppleTV. Both devices communicate with your smart-devices directly via WiFi, Bluetooth, or in some cases (like Hue) via Ethernet or WiFi to a hub.

    A homekit hub allows you to create automations. Those will then fire whether you're home or not, because the hub is always home. The hub also allows you to control your smart devices when not at home.

    Your AppleTV should be able to communicate with your koogeek sensor, however Bluetooth has a shorter range than WiFi and it may just be a matter of distance (and walls) between your AppleTV and the koogeek sensor that's the problem. To test this all out, assuming your AppleTV is set up as your hub, go plug it in in the garage, shut down the iPad, wait a few minutes, and see if the AppleTV works as expected when closer to the sensor.
  8. joeblough thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2006
    well, this is essentially what i had done before posting here. what i was concerned about was if autonomous re-pairing of BLE devices was even possible. my thinking was colored by regular bluetooth, which requires user intervention to pair and all pairings are 1-to-1. so i was thinking maybe that whatever device you set up the BLE equipment with was the only thing that could ever talk to the BLE equipment, but that's clearly wrong.

    i think all that happened is that i didn't wait long enough for the spare appleTV to become the hub. this might be mediated by icloud and probably takes a while.

    anyway. as far as i can the whole 'primary hub' thing is actually a shortcoming of HomeKit - there can only be one hub which attempts to make all the BLE connections. in my case eventually my current AppleTV took over the role of primary hub, and it's too far from the BLE devices to actually make a good connection, and as you predicted, i lost contact with my BLE window switch despite the fact that the iPad was right next to it. so i had to disable homekit in my aTV.

    i actually didn't buy a HomePod in the black friday deal since from what i understand, it will elect itself the primary hub and it can't be turned off. this would have also resulted in a loss of contact with my BLE devices. later i kind of realized that i could sign into the HomePod with a different apple ID but it's no big loss - i would have turned off siri anyway and only used it as an Airplay2 speaker, for which i suppose the HomePod is overkill.

    at this point i'm all-in on homekit. got ecobees to replace my nests, and got homebridge running and linked my security cameras in to HomeKit. it's a real hoot to be able to tell siri to raise or lower the thermostat temperatures.
  9. TimFL1 macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2017
    I think there no longer is a „primary hub device“. The way I understand it is that every HomePod, ATV4(k) and iPad on your home network serves as a hub. HomeKit automatically picks the one that is available (so if your iPad is out of range it uses the HomePod or ATV). Could be that this also means it checks between all hub devices whether they are in range of the bluetooth device, seeing as you can specify where each device is located at (e.g. HomePod in your bedroom and ATV in the living room, the ATV is tried first for the query „turn off the lights in the living room“).

    Please correct me if I‘m wrong, it‘s just my educated guess based on the HomeKit changes introduced over the years (and seeing as there is no longer a way to set a primary hub device).
  10. joeblough thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2006
    well maybe - all i know is when the ATV became the primary device (as shown in the apple Home app), i could no longer talk to the door sensor. while the apple TV can be assigned to a room, i don't see how to do that for the iPad. probably because for 99% of people it would not make sense. maybe the iPad is a "second class" hub because of this.

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