HomeKit presence detection and more by WiFi network, please

I’ve noted before that HomeKit presence detection is extremely unreliable for me, relying as it does on Location Services.

GPS location can be less than 100% reliable in cities anyway, as signals are either blocked by tall buildings or bounce off them. There’s then an additional complication for those of us who live in apartment blocks …

Even 100% reliable location detection will trigger when we reach the building lobby, not when we’re at our door. Since we live on the 18th floor, and it can take a couple of minutes to get from the lobby, through the security doors, and up the elevator, that makes it unsafe to use presence detection to do things like unlock the front door.

It’s frustrating because there is a much more reliable option available: triggering presence detection when we connect to our home’s Wi-Fi network. For most people, that is going to be within sight of their front door.

It would also be useful to borrow a few features from some Android devices, like the Pixel. That can do things like automatically switch your phone ringer from a loud ring (which might be needed on the street) to vibrate (more home-friendly) when it detects you are home.

There’s also an Android app called Tasker which is pretty much an IFTTT app for triggering bespoke actions when your phone connects to your home Wi-Fi. It can, for example, open an app, toggle settings, even send messages. iOS sandboxing would limit what a third-party app could do, but Apple could enable these kinds of automations natively in iOS.

So here’s what I’d like to see. Identify your home Wi-Fi network, and have iOS remember this. Then be able to set a variety of automations as soon as your phone connects to it. These would include:

  • HomeKit automations (unlock door, switch on lights, etc)
  • Toggle Settings (Ringer, Do Not Disturb, VPN off and so on)
  • Option to no longer require authentication for device unlock
  • Switch to a different Home screen (containing the apps you use at home)

A second set of actions could be triggered when your phone connects to your work network – and, of course, switching things back when you leave either network.

Those are just things I can think of off the top of my head; you likely have more ideas.

Is HomeKit presence detection by Wi-Fi network something you’d like to see? Please take our poll, and let us hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Ben Schoon contributed to this piece.

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