Next month, Apple will roll out its latest software update for iPhones and iPads, iOS 13, and with it comes a new HomeKit feature: Secure Video.
Apple revealed HomeKit Secure Video at WWDC back in June, and it's kind of a big deal. The new feature is going to change the way video cameras work with HomeKit, and hopefully encourage more companies to make their cameras compatible. Because, let's be real, there aren't many good ones to pick from right now.
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‚Ä¶ unclear. So we're going to use this guide to clarify what Secure Video is, how it will work, and what you'll need to use it.
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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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.
Apple has also told us that when HomeKit Secure Video is available on third-party devices, users will still have the option of using the storage plans offered by those providers, if they prefer.
Who's supporting it?
Netatmo is jumping right in, with its new Smart Video Doorbell supporting Secure Video right out the gate. The company also told us it will roll out support for its existing indoor and outdoor cameras later down the line.
Since WWDC, Logitech has confirmed its Circle 2 Wired Camera will support Secure Video via a free firmware update later this year, but hasn't elaborated on when it will specifically happen. As for the wireless model, that one's not HomeKit-compatible, which is why it's not in line for the Secure Video update.
Eufy is another company that's committed to supporting Secure Video on products old and new, and Robin will add support on its ProLine Video Doorbell. Arlo, however, confirmed it won't be supporting the feature, which is a shame considering how good its security cameras are.
Apple says it also isn't making Secure Video a requirement for companies to get HomeKit certification, which is good to hear.
What do I need to use it?
You'll 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.
How much storage space do I need, and how much does it cost?
Secure Video won'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.
That starts at the $2.99 200GB tier, which will support just one camera. For more cameras you'll need the $9.99 2TB plan (the next one up) which supports up to five cameras. Both plans will let you store up to 10 days of footage.
When can I get it?
You can get it when iOS 13 rolls out, which should be in time for the new iPhone devices. Apple's big event is rumored to be taking place 10 September, so that could be the day we finally get HomeKit Secure Video.