HomeKit Weekly: Home Key is the best HomeKit feature in years; here’s how to make it better

Without a doubt, Home Key is my favorite new HomeKit feature in a couple of years. The ability to lock and unlock your door with a tap of your iPhone or Apple Watch has become second nature to me day to day. Both the Level Lock+ and the Aqara Smart Lock U100 are great options for implementing it in your home, but after months of usage, I’ve realized that it’s missing one single feature: Home Key sharing.

HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

HomeKit has a really nice built-in sharing option for people who already have access to your HomeKit environment. You can easily share full access with your spouse, but also give more granular control on editing and controlling remotely. This feature extends to Home Key as well. My wife has full access to our Home Key lock using her iPhone just like I do.

Home Key support for guests

Aqara U100

Earlier this summer, my family was out of town for a few days and we hired someone to dog-sit for us. She spent a few hours with the dogs, took them for a few walks, fed them, etc., before heading home for the day. She repeated this on back-to-back days while we were out of town. To let her in the house, I set her up with a code on our abode security system so she could disable it from the keypad. I could have given her access to the abode app, but that would have required her to set up an abode account, etc. – just not worth it.

For unlocking the door, it ended up being easier to just give her a key to the door. Here’s what I’d be able to do: create a time-based option in HomeKit for giving her only access to a Home Key in my home. I know I could have shared access to my HomeKit environment with her using the Home app and then shared the lock, but even that process can be complicated for a short amount of time.

The way this should work is in the Home app, there should be a share option with the lock that allows you to set an expiration date. Sharing it would trigger the share sheet so I could send it over iMessage. Tapping it on her iPhone would add it to her Wallet app (notice it’s never touching the Home app on their end). It should clearly say when the key expires on the wallet, and then she’d have access. All I would need to tell her is, “Hey, tap on this link in iMessage, and once it’s in your Apple Wallet, just tap your iPhone on the lock to unlock it.”

Apple’s current method is with an access code, but it’s really not clear which locks support it, but either way – a better method would be sharing a key directly so all the person would need is an iPhone or Apple Watch.

Wrap-up on Home Key sharing

Apple always has the environment to make Home Key sharing a reality. They already have the sharing option in HomeKit, but it just needs to be streamlined to only be for Home Key, and it needs to have a simple setup for tapping a picture of a Home Key in iMessage and having it add it to Apple Wallet. Ideally, Apple would allow the homeowner to set a time limit as well as the ability to revoke manually at any time.

Get started with Home Key using the Level Lock+ or the Aqara U100.

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