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Apple’s Home app and HomeKit devices are getting these 8 new features next week

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Unlimited cameras, package detection, and Siri in your smart thermostat

A slew of software updates next week will bring more functionality to Apple’s HomeKit smart home platform. 
Screenshot by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

With new iPhones come new features. And starting next week, Apple HomeKit users will get plenty courtesy of iOS 15, HomePod 15, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8 software updates. Apple has confirmed that these will all be available on the same day, September 20th.

So, if you’ve been excited about unlimited HomeKit Secure Video cameras, the HomePod Mini as a speaker for your Apple TV 4K, or the chance to see your doorbell on your Apple Watch, you’re in luck.

Here’s a look at all the new HomeKit and HomeKit-related features that will be dropping on Monday.

A new software update will let you pair a single or pair of HomePod Minis to your Apple TV 4K.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Control your Apple TV with Siri on HomePod Mini

Finally, you’ll be able to use Siri on your HomePod Mini to turn your Apple TV on and off, start a specific show or movie, or have it pause or resume playback for you. This has been a feature of Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant’s smart speakers for a while now (when paired with a Fire TV device or Chromecast), and we’re pleased to see Apple bringing Siri’s mini speaker up to par.

Set your HomePod Mini as your Apple TV speaker

A single or pair of HomePod Minis can now be your Apple TV 4K’s default speaker. This feature was previously only available to the original (now discontinued) HomePod, but now it’s available for Apple’s more diminutive (and not discontinued) smart speaker. Additionally, the HomePod Mini can be the output for other audio devices using ARC / eARC, if your television has those inputs.

Apple TV 4K can now show you multiple HomeKit camera feeds on the biggest screen in your house.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Have your HomeKit cameras spot packages

Security cameras connected to Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video (Apple’s option for storing footage from your smart home cameras) through an Apple TV 4K or HomePod Mini can now tell you when they see a package. This is in addition to people, animal, and vehicle detection and will increase the usefulness of the two HKSV compatible residential doorbells currently on the market — the Logitech View and the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell.

See multiple HomeKit cameras on your Apple TV

The Apple TV can now stream multiple feeds from your HomeKit cameras instead of only one, so you can survey your domain from the big screen. It will also offer up control of nearby accessories such as a porch light, so you can turn on the lights using the remote, no need to get your phone out.

Add unlimited HomeKit Secure Video cameras

Speaking of multiple cameras, with the iOS15 update on your iPhone and iPad you can now add an unlimited number of cameras to HomeKit Secure Video if you sign up for the new iCloud Plus 2TB plan ($9.99 a month). Previously, 5 was the maximum number allowed, which is a bit limiting if you want to cover a whole home inside and out with cameras.

The Ecobee SmartThermostat is the first confirmed Siri-enabled accessory.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Talk to Siri in more places

The voice assistant is coming to other speaker-enabled HomeKit accessories. The Ecobee SmartThermostat is the only confirmed accessory so far — and the function won’t go live for a few more weeks, according to Ecobee. But it’s likely more devices will follow soon, enabling you to ask Siri to control smart home devices, set timers and alarms, and use the intercom feature in more rooms in your home. You will still need to have a HomePod Mini on the same network for the device to relay the requests.

Tell Siri to do something later

Siri is getting smarter about home control, adding the ability for you to ask the voice assistant to do something later or based on an event. That means you’ll be able to use commands such as “Hey Siri, turn off the lights when I leave home,” or “Hey Siri, turn off the TV at 6 p.m.”

A new software update for Apple Watch lets you view your HomeKit doorbell camera feed on your watch screen.
Image: Apple

Control your home on your wrist

With WatchOS 8, the Apple Home app gets a much-needed redesign. Now when you access individual accessories as well as HomeKit Scenes, the watch will use context to determine which ones to offer up for control. You can also now view HomeKit-enabled camera feeds from a doorbell camera directly on your wrist and use Intercom to quickly broadcast a message to the whole home, individual rooms, or personal devices.

To update your HomePod and HomePod Mini’s software, go to the Home Settings in the Apple Home app (you can turn on automatic updates here). For Apple TV 4K, look in the settings menu on your device and for the Apple Watch, use the Watch app on your iPhone or the settings app on the watch itself.

Update, 8:26AM ET, September 18th, 2021: Clarified that the article is referring to Siri on a HomePod Mini, not the discontinued HomePod, to control the Apple TV. Added the information that the HomePod Mini can also be the audio output for other devices through ARC / eArc. Clarified that the new feature for accessing accessories and Scenes on the Apple Watch is that the Home app offers up relevant accessories and Scenes using context.

Correction, 8:26AM ET September 18th 2021: A previous version of this article stated the update will let you view camera feeds on your watch and that you can unlock a door using HomeKit on AppleTV. You can already view video feeds on the Apple Watch, the update adds the ability to view feeds from a doorbell camera. You can only control secure accessories such as door locks through a personal device not through the Apple TV interface. We regret the errors.