Have a HomeKit enabled camera and an Apple TV and want to view your feed on the big screen? There are currently three Apps available on the Apple TV App Store that can help you accomplish just that. All three options are easy to set up and they won’t break the bank when it comes to cost. Here’s the breakdown.
|Looming for HomeKit|
All three Apple TV Apps provide the basic ability to view your HomeKit enabled cameras on the big screen. Unfortunately, due to a current HomeKit limitation, live audio is not provided to Apps, which means all three Apps are unable to play any audio from your camera’s microphone. Additional HomeKit functionality varies, with the Looming App having the ability to trigger your HomeKit scenes, and the HomeCam App can display extra data from any sensors that are placed in the same “room” as the camera, such as showing the temperature or air quality. The HomeCam App is also the only App that can display a handy clock over your video feed.
Outside of HomeKit, the Looming and Streamie Apps both feature options to view traditional IP cameras as well, but additional set up is required. IP camera support also includes things such as panning or zooming with motorized cameras. The Streamie App even has the ability to save snap shots from the App to a pre-defined iCloud Photo Library, but this feature only works with IP cameras.
Once a camera has been added, each App has the ability to display your camera feed in a full screen video view. Each App also supports an “overview” or grid view option that will display all of the available HomeKit cameras that you may have. The Streamie App supports up to 16 cameras in its grid view, depending on your Apple TV hardware, and does so with a traditional home monitoring layout view. When multiple cameras are added to the HomeCam App, some additional options are enabled, such as setting an “Auto Cycle” mode which will show a full screen view of a camera, and then will transition to another camera within a preset amount of time. The HomeCam App also features the ability to swipe on the Apple TV remote’s touch surface to move from camera to camera.
When viewing a camera full screen, the HomeCam App’s aforementioned ability to tie in additional HomeKit data really comes in handy. The App is aware of which room the camera is assigned to in HomeKit, and will display any sensor data as an overlay on top of the camera feed. For example, if you have a temperature sensor in the same “room” as the camera, the temperature reading will be shown on your tv screen. By long pressing on the Apple TV remote’s touch surface, HomeCam will also display any actions that can be performed with the devices in the room, such as turning on and off a smart plug.
As previously mentioned, all three Apple TV Apps worked as advertised. All three Apps loaded our HomeKit camera feed after launching the App, however we did see some slight differences in their connection times. We found that the Streamie App was the fastest to load our camera, followed by HomeCam. Unfortunately, the Looming App did seem to suffer from extended load times (3-5 seconds) which would occur anytime the main feed was left. All 3 camera Apps also did have some hiccups with resuming the App when it was in the background. Camera connections took longer than their initial loads, and all three would periodically have an issue where the feed would not load at all, forcing us to force close the App. Live viewing performance was pretty much the same on all three Apps, with each of them showing events happening in the camera feed in near real time.
When it comes to pricing, all three Apps have different price points. The Streamie App, takes the free initial download route, and users can test the App with one camera. If your home has more than one camera, an additional In App Purchase can be made to enable support for more. There are two options for the IAP, one being a monthly subscription of $0.99, or a one time purchase can be made for $4.99. The Looming for HomeKit App uses a one time purchase model, which costs $1.99, with no IAP required for additional features. Likewise, the HomeCam App also is only available as a one time purchase, which can be had for $4.99 and has no IAP.
Of course, to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck, you should always check to see if the App is still being actively developed. For these three Apps, we found that the Streamie App was most recently updated just a few weeks ago on 05/10/19, followed by the HomeCam App which last saw an update on 10/01/18. The Looming for HomeKit App looks like it may be abandoned, as the last update occurred way back in 09/25/17. It should be noted that the HomeCam App is from the same developer as other popular iOS HomeKit Apps like HomeScan, HomePass, and the watch App HomeRun, and they are noted for their devotion to adding new features over time and for maintaining their Apps.
While all three Apple TV HomeKit camera apps perform their basic task of showing you a live feed of your cameras, there are some features that make one standout from the others. The HomeCam App, with its ability to auto cycle between feeds, sensor data display, and nice but small touches like an onscreen clock make it our goto HomeKit camera Apple TV App. For those that only have one camera and want to see just how useful having it displayed on your TV is, we recommend first trying out Streamie, which is free to download and it should give you a general idea of its utility. Finally, while Looming for HomeKit does work as intended, we have out doubts that the App is being maintained, and with another round of tvOS updates coming next month, who knows how long it will remain compatible.
All three of these Apps can be downloaded directly from the tvOS App Store. Both HomeCam and Looming have a companion iOS App, so you are able to use their familiar interfaces on the go. The Streamie App is only available via tvOS at this time, but we can only assume that it way make its way to other devices over time. Keep an eye out on this post over time, as we will update it periodically for any new Apps that may enter the foray, as well as with any updates in functionality that these Apps may receive. As of today, you cannot go wrong with either one of these Apps as they all function as intended, with the exception of audio, which we hope that will be solved in a future version of tvOS.