Wake Light, a HomeKit App from developer Andreas Ganske, is designed to simulate sunrise using your existing smart bulbs, switches, lamps and light strips. The App, which was released this month, is completely free, with no ads, in-app purchases, or subscriptions, and looks to be simply out there to help fill the void when it comes to wake up lights and HomeKit. Sure you can purchase a dedicated lamp, or use the Philips Hue lighting system, but this happens outside of HomeKit and the Home App, making things a little more complicated. So does this free utility work as intended? Let’s take a look.
Immediately after opening the App the familiar permission dialog is presented asking for access to your HomeKit data. After granting access, you are sent to the main screen of the App, which is where pretty much everything takes place. The App is simplistic in design, with just a gradient background, and is text heavy, which is fine as it is somewhat of a set it and forget it App. There are no additional settings screens to be found, aside from a small popover when clicking on the “i” button in the top right hand side which allows you to quickly delete all the stored data, as well as providing a link to the developers website. We would have liked to see some kind of tutorial or walkthrough after the first launch to set up everything, but we will note that there is a basic explanation at the bottom of the App.
Setting up a wake up light “alarm” is simple and takes just a few taps. First you select which accessory that will act as your wake up light, which unfortunately, is limited to just one device at this time. We are not quite sure why only one light can be selected, but we can only guess that this may be some kind of a “pro” feature that will be tacked on later, perhaps through in-app purchases. When selecting your accessory, you will be presented with a list of all the lighting devices in your home, which is nice, but the list itself does not separate devices by room. This makes it hard to determine which light you are selecting, especially if you have multiple lights that all share a standard naming convention.
Next up is selecting the time that you want to “wake up” which works by making the exact time you select as the final stage of the process, meaning your lights will be at their brightest at the time you select. The App defaults to a 30 minute wake up process, which means that if you set an alarm for 7 AM, your light will actually turn on at 6:30, albeit at its lowest possible brightness. This can be adjusted by selecting a duration which is directly below the time option. A peak brightness option is also available, which by default is set to 100%, which we assume would be the one that most users would choose. Finally, tapping on “create wake up light” is all that is needed to set it all in motion.
So you may be wondering, how does this actually work? Well, just like the App’s design, the process is simple as it relies on setting up scenes and automations in the Home App. Once the wake up light alarm is created, an assortment of scenes are automatically added to your Home App, all featuring names such as WL-01, WL-02 and so on. Naturally, we wanted to test whether or not the scenes and automations that were created by the App would be deleted if “deactivated” in the Wake Light App, and we are happy to report that they were. Using the default settings of a 30 minute wake up, and 100% peak brightness level, the App created 10 total scenes, starting at 1%, ramping all the way up to 100%.
Automations were also created at random intervals in a 30 minute window that trigger the scenes. In testing, we found that this method worked as advertised, with our 30 minute alarm slowly turning on our test lights to various brightness levels. Our one complaint about this process is that the scenes are set as favorites, and they, along with the automations tend to add a little extra clutter to an already busy Home App. One last thing to note is that the developer’s App description mentions color spectrum as well being involved, but we did not test out this functionality as we were using it with basic dimming bulbs on a Caseta Lamp Dimmer Module.
So at the end of the day, the Wake Light App works exactly as advertised. While we cannot vouch for the effectiveness behind using wake lights, we can say that it definitely seems like a gentler way to wake up. Since the App is strictly devoted to making scenes and automations for the Home App, the alarms created are not tied to the clock App on your phone, which you are free to set an additional audible alarm with if desired. For those looking to try out wake up lights, without having to invest in Hue bulbs or a wake up lamp, we can certainly recommend the Wake Light App. It is simple, easy to use and most importantly, it does what it says it will do, all entirely for free.