Apple HomeKit Secure Video explained and the best HomeKit cameras to buy

Everything you need to know about the new security focused platform

Apple HomeKit Secure Video explained
The Ambient is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Apple first revealed HomeKit Secure Video at WWDC back in June 2019, and it's kind of a big deal. More so now that Apple boosted HSV capabilities at WWDC 2021.

The feature changes the way video cameras work with HomeKit, and, in time, will hopefully encourage more companies to make their smart security cameras compatible.

Read this: The best Apple HomeKit devices

We've written about Secure Video a few times since it was announced, and we couldn't help but notice that a lot of the information surrounding it is… unclear.

So we're going to use this guide to clarify what Secure Video is, how it will work, what you'll need to use it and what the best HomeKit Secure Video security cameras and video doorbells are, such as the Eve Cam, the Logitech Circle View and the EufyCam 2.

Apple HomeKit Secure Video on iPhone

HomeKit Secure Video: What is it?

The thinking behind Secure Video, other than Apple wooing more companies and users into the HomeKit fold, is that home security footage is one of the most sensitive bits of information captured in the smart home. You only want that footage to be seen by the people you decide to share it with.

Secure Video is a way to store that footage on Apple's servers with the peace of mind that it won't be seen by prying eyes – not even Apple's. When footage is captured, it gets encrypted end-to-end and is then fired into the iCloud, where it will stay – securely. Once there, only you and anyone you invite to view will be able to see it.

Read this: How to set up an Apple HomeKit hub

However, to emphasise: the encryption happens on the local device before being sent to the cloud, meaning Apple can't get into it even if it wanted to.

The local device is your HomeKit hub, be it a HomePod, iPad or Apple TV. The other thing that happens to the footage, before the footage firing it into the big iCloud in the sky, is that it's analysed. This determines the difference between people, pets, or cars before encrypting and storing it.

Users have the option of using the storage plans offered by those providers, if they prefer.

What do I need to use it?

You need an iCloud account with Apple, and of course at least one device that supports Secure Video. The other thing you need is a hub, which you'll already have if you're on HomeKit. The hub can be a HomePod, Apple TV or an iPad.

Apple HomeKit Secure Video iCloud costs

How much storage space do I need, and how much does it cost?

Secure Video doesn't count towards your iCloud plan limit, so the answer really depends on how many cameras you intend to use. However, while Apple offers all iCloud users 5GB of free storage, you'll need a higher tier plan in order to use Secure Video.

At WWDC 2021, Apple announced that HomeKit can now handle unlimited cameras as part of the new iCloud+.

With a 50GB plan for $0.99 a month you'll get one HSV camera, with the 200GB for $2.99 a month up to five, and for the 2TB at $9.99 you can have all the feeds you can eat.

Apple HomeKit Secure Video app settings

Why use HomeKit Secure Video?

HomeKit Secure Video makes setting up your cameras and using them within Apple's ecosystem a doodle.

For example, the Logitech Circle View doesn't have its own app. There's no need to sign up, download or log into anything. You simply plug it in, open Apple's Home app, scan the HomeKit code and you're good to go.

HomeKit Secure Video cameras can also act as motion sensors and LUX sensors (light sensor) in HomeKit, as well. So you can use these sensors to trigger HomeKit automations, which the Apple Home app will suggest to you.

One of the best features of HomeKit Secure Video is the ability for the camera to react to your presence and that of your family, setting itself to one of four modes based on whether you're home or away:

  • Off – It's completely disabled
  • Detect Activity – No streaming or recording but the camera can use its sensors to triggering automations or send notifications
  • Stream – Approved users can view a live stream but no video will be recorded
  • Stream and allow recording – The live stream is accessible and the camera will record footage based on your settings.

While this is similar to the geofencing options many other cameras offer to protect your privacy, it's more nuanced as it doesn't remove the ability of your camera to be part of your smart home just because you don't want it to record you.

This means you can still have motion trigger automations, like having the lights turn on in the morning without your camera grabbing footage of you in your underwear.

aqara homekit secure video camera

The best HomeKit Secure Video cameras

The list of HomeKit Secure Video cameras is growing by the day. The first device to officially get it was the Logitech Circle 2 - although that was via a software update rather than being an out of the box HomeKit Secure Video device.

2020 saw the first dedicated HomeKit Secure Video security cameras going on sale, from the likes of Eufy, Logitech and Eve. And 2021 has seen the list grow even larger.

There are also a couple of HomeKit Secure Video doorbells now as well, from brands including Logitech and Robin.

Here are some of the top models that you should be looking out for:

TAGGED    apple home    security cameras

Related stories

security cameras Best home security camera: Wireless, wired, indoor & outdoor smart cam picks
smart home Aqara smart home kit hits UK and European Apple Stores
apple home The best Apple HomeKit devices: Compatible smart lights, plugs, thermostats, cameras, sensors and more
nest How much does Nest Aware Cost? Google's new Nest Aware plans explained
apple home The ultimate guide to Apple CarPlay
apple home ​Apple HomeKit: Everything you need to know about living in an Apple Home