Home Automation Reviews

Back up Your HomeKit Codes with the HomePass App for iOS

HomePass for HomeKit shows logged accessories
If you've ever lost a HomeKit code, you know all too well the pain and frustration that can cause. HomePass for HomeKit ensures this won't happen to you by making it easy to back up your codes.

One of the great features of Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem is the ease with which you can provision, or allow, smart home devices to work with each other in your home. Just point your phone’s camera at the code on the device and—oh…but what if the code isn’t on the device? Some smaller HomeKit accessories, like sensors and bulbs, don’t always have the code on the device itself.

Is it in the box? What did you do with the box? Maybe that’s down in the basement? You didn’t throw it away, did you? It might have been on those instructions you tossed. (That’s usually where it is, by the way.)

If only you’d written down those codes. Remember our article and Home: On episode focused on recovering from a smart home catastrophe? Yeah, we know…most people aren’t that prepared.

There’s an App for That

HomePass Accessories view

HomePass for HomeKit is an app with one purpose: backing up your HomeKit codes. It captures HomeKit codes from your accessories using the camera—just like HomeKit itself. As a best practice, you’d capture each HomeKit code whenever you’re installing a new HomeKit-compatible product, but HomePass also makes it easy to add codes after the fact by letting you select from a list of installed accessories.

Depending on what your HomeKit ecosystem looks like, you may have many codes to capture or just a few. Remember: anything that joins HomeKit through a bridge or hub (e.g., Lutron Caséta, Philips Hue, Wemo, etc.) will only have one code, regardless of how many accessories are connected. And some products, like Ecobee’s thermostats, render rotating HomeKit codes dynamically (so you won’t need to capture those in HomePass).

Maintaining multiples homes with HomeKit? Not a problem. HomePass lets you specify the home and room, category, and notes for each accessory you add. Notes are useful as reminders about where you’ve deployed sensors. Since you could have several sensors that all look the same, it’s important to keep track of which code goes with what accessory, particularly if the codes aren’t printed anywhere on them! Finally, you can export all of this information to a CSV file (as a backup of your backup).

Good Progeny

HomeCam Cameras view showing multiple camera pictures

This app comes from the developer who brought us HomeCam for HomeKit, an app for monitoring your HomeKit-compatible cameras, available for iOS and Apple TV. Like, HomeCam, HomePass is clean and elegant. It looks, feels, and works like an iOS app—not something over-stylized or generically designed.

In addition to its core functionality, HomePass basically does everything right for an iOS app. It allows you to use your passcode or Touch ID if you want to protect your code vault, it syncs between devices using iCloud, it works with Family Sharing, and it even lets you choose a light or dark theme (or let it switch automatically based on your preferred screen brightness threshold). And you don’t need to create yet another app account to do any of this.

HomePass for HomeKit is available in the App Store for $2.99. How much time did you waste or hair did you lose the last time you had to reprovision a HomeKit accessory? If you lose that code, your device is toast. $2.99 for some peace of mind is a bargain! We’re not in the habit of rating apps, but if we did, this one would easily get 5 stars. 

Our Wish List

We love this app, and we see a lot of potential here. Hoping that the developer will continue to refine and enhance it, we can’t help but put in our thoughts on some features we’d love to see:

  • Some way of indicating whatever a device is or isn’t included in your current HomeKit configuration
  • Grouping/sorting by home, room, or above-mentioned “provisioned” indicator
  • Detection when you’re entering a duplicate code with a means of reconciling

If you’re using HomePass, or if you have a lost code story of your own, share your experience with us in the comments below.

Advertisement

About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.