HomeKit enthusiasts with an Apple Watch may know, the built in Home App, while familiar and can get most jobs done, can be a little slow and cumbersome to use, especially for those with lots of devices assigned as favorites, or those that are using old Apple Watches. Siri, which can be summoned via a press and hold of the digital crown, or simply saying a command with the raise to talk option, is also great, but voice commands are not always appropriate for specific situations. HomeRun, an Apple Watch App from HomeKit App developer Aaron Pearce/Sunya Limited aims to solve some of these shortcomings, by providing “quick actions” on your wrist through the usage of complications or just the App itself. With space being at a premium on the available Apple Watch faces, is the App worthy of making our “home screen”? Let’s take a look.
Even though the App is an Apple Watch App, using the iOS companion App is necessary to begin setting it up. The iOS App starts with a welcome screen which asks you to select your HomeKit home, and once chosen, a list of your already established HomeKit scenes is displayed. Tapping on a scene will add it to the App, and then the real fun begins. Choosing the scene within the App brings up customization options, which consist of picking an icon and its color. One thing that I found somewhat confusing at first is that these customization options are for how the scene is displayed when opening the HomeRun App on the Apple Watch, and not for the icon that appears in a complication on the watch.
Once you have completed the customization process, you are back to the scene selection screen, where more scenes can be added. Another small issue that we saw was with how the scenes were displayed on both the iOS App and on the Apple Watch. The screenshots shown off on the App Store and the description both reference a grid view, which took quite a while to actually figure out how to enable, as I didn’t recall seeing any explanation from within the App. A simple 3D Touch on one of the scene icons displayed on the iOS App that I had set up did the trick, and I chalk this one up to 3D Touch still being something that is there but I hardly ever use. The grid view is customizable as well, with the scene icons changing sizes depending on the number of scenes on a particular row, which looks really nice on the Apple Watch display when various colors are assigned.
Located at the bottom navigation portion of the iOS App is Complications, which allow users to select various options relating to how the App icon is displayed on an Apple Watch face. Options for the specific type of watch face are available, with Series 4 users getting access to the infograph complications which include corner and circle slots. Selecting a slot brings up the customization screen, where an icon and color can be set, which is pretty much the same as seen before when setting up a scene from earlier. Another option for complications is the Linked Scene, which allows you to select what action will happen when you tap on the HomeRun complication on your watch face. One option is to simply launch the HomeRun App, which will afford users access to all of the scenes already set up. The other option is the ability to launch a scene directly from the watch face, which functions pretty much as you would expect, but it should be noted that the HomeRun App will still be launched, meaning that it isn’t quite unobtrusive, but this is a limitation of WatchOS, and not the App itself. Either way, on our Series 4 Apple Watch, the App launched instantly, however, your mileage may vary if you using an earlier model.
In the end, the HomeRun App is my goto Apple Watch App for controlling my HomeKit devices. The App is fast, responsive and is able to be customized to my specific needs, which makes it not only worthy of making my Apple Watch “home screen”, but also serves as a true replacement for the built in Home App. HomeRun, which costs just $2.99 on the App Store, is an easy App to recommend for those looking for a better way to control their HomeKit homes from their wrist. The App is also frequently updated, and since the developer behind the App is entrenched in the HomeKit community, we can see the App evolving with the Apple Watch itself, making it one of those Apps that eventually becomes essential to our devices.