Here’s How I Finally Accepted HomeKit is a Raging S*#t Storm

Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo

When Apple first announced HomeKit in 2014 I hoped it would be the unifying platform that let me truly control all my smart home devices as if they all came from the same company. That turned out to be true, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because HomeKit has become a raging s*#t storm, and I finally have to accept that.

HomeKit is Apple’s smart home device and home automation platform. Any company can make devices that support the standard, and they all work together like one big, happy, family. At first, Apple relied on developers to make their own apps for controlling everything, but later released its own Home app, which now is required to manage some tasks, including accessing HomePod settings.

Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo
Amazon’s Alexa beat out Apple’s HomeKit as my smart home controller

I love that HomeKit lets me control my smart home devices regardless if I’m home, or practically anywhere else in the world. I also love that it reliably manages my ecobee smart thermostat schedule when ecobee‘s own app failed.

There’s a lot to like about HomeKit. So much so that most of my smart home voice controlled actions start with “Hey, Siri.” When the HomePod came out I made a point to transition as much as I possibly could from Alexa voice control over to HomeKit and Siri. And yet, I’m ready to kick HomeKit to the curb and give Alexa a big apology for straying.

How HomeKit Broke My Digital Heart

My big problem with HomeKit isn’t overall reliability. Apple has most of those issues under control, although I sometimes have problems where only part of a scene executes. We’ve moved beyond the days where I had to routinely log out of iCloud on my Apple TV and log back in again to keep remote access working. My problem is that the HomeKit platform is so fragile that when something goes wrong there isn’t a graceful way to recover. In fact, there isn’t any way to recover.

HomeKit is like an incandescent light bulb: It works as long as it does. When it doesn’t, you throw it out and start over with a new bulb. HomeKit is essentially the incandescent filament in the home automation light bulb.

My figurative filament broke when iCloud decided I was syncing HomeKit data and couldn’t get out of that loop. I knew I was in trouble when I launched Apple’s Home app on my iPhone and was stuck with a screen that perpetually said “Loading Accessories and Scenes,” and then saw the same screen on my iPad.

After about 30 minutes a new link showed up at bottom of the screen saying “Reset Home Configuration.” That translates to “wipe out all of your HomeKit data, including devices and scenes.” In other words, it’s the nuclear option.

That seemed a bit radical for being stuck in a sync loop, so it was time to do some troubleshooting. Relaunching the Home app and restarting my iPhone didn’t fix the problem.

Logging every iOS device out of iCloud and logging back in from one—a commonly suggested troubleshooting step for this problem—didn’t work. Nor did creating a new Apple ID, logging in with that, and then logging in with your original Apple ID (Seriously, that’s one of Apple’s suggestions).

In the end, I had a pile of three iPads, an iPod Touch, and an iPhone all logged out of my iCloud account. Also, I logged out from my Apple TV, and did a factory reset on my HomePod since I couldn’t get past the “Loading Accessories and Scenes” screen in the Home app to log out my fancy new speaker from there. Still no dice.

Bonus: logging out of your iCloud account removes your credit cards from Apple Pay. So that’s another thing to set up again.

Finally I accepted where this was heading and reset my HomeKit network, wiping out 23 scenes, seven automations, nine smart bulbs, five smart switches, six sensors, and probably a couple other devices I’m forgetting. And just like that, I was able to start setting up my devices in HomeKit again.

HomeKit’s Achilles Heel

After four years, the answer to HomeKit problems shouldn’t be “wipe it out and start over.” That feels a lot like Microsoft telling Windows users to reformat their hard drive and reinstall the operating system when something goes wrong. It also feels very un-Apple-like.

Instead of jumping right to the nuke-it-from-orbit option when something goes wrong, HomeKit needs a more graceful solution. I’d be happy with a dialog telling me there’s a problem syncing and would I like to roll back to the latest HomeKit settings backup. I may lose a recently added device or scene, but that’s an order of magnitude better than wiping out everything and starting from scratch.

Reset HomeKit option in Home app on iPhone
A stuck sync loop (left) shouldn’t have a destructive solution (right)

People look to their smart home platform to reliably automate actions and manage their devices. If Apple can’t do that—and right now it really can’t—maybe HomeKit should have a big BETA stamp on it, along with a warning that you shouldn’t use it in situations where reliability is important. Imagine coming home to find you’re locked out of your house because the HomeKit smart lock can’t be reached without starting over with your home automation setup.

It’s Not Me, HomeKit, it’s You

I learned my lesson. Except for a couple actions that rely on HomeKit-only devices, all of my smart home automation is going back to Alexa. That’s not a perfect solution because Alexa refuses to let me include the ecobee in Routines, and saying things like, “Alexa, turn on the living room lights” often gets me an “OK” response without the lights actually turning on.

Still, that’s better than a platform that seamlessly links all of my devices together and then takes a dirt nap it can’t recover from. It’s frustrating when I look at everything HomeKit is capable of and have to instead use a platform that’s more limited, but doesn’t break.

I’m not saying Amazon’s Alexa is better than HomeKit. Every home automation platform has its flaws and limitations. The real problem is that HomeKit is so fragile that I simply can’t trust it any more.

Frankly, I don’t feel comfortable recommending any consumer-level smart home platform to the average user. Flipping a light switch is still far more reliable, even if it means setting down the groceries or walking into a dark room. Maybe some day that’ll change, and maybe some day Apple can prove to me HomeKit is robust enough to be my smart home platform—but not today.

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JC Smith

This article is right and so are the comments that say this is a huge problem! I’m an Apple fan but this is the worst Apple screw up in the 30 years I’ve owned apple products and software both personally and with my business. I happened to me a few times now most recently last week, one HomeKit set up disappeared for a remote home that I just left and won’t be back for six months. That won’t fly to try to set it up remotely so I’m screwed. Dealt with Apple support for a week, as I had a… Read more »

JC Smith

No iOS 9 at all in my digital life. And again, there will always be the risk of screwups, but the main point here is that you cant recover a backup file to restore your device. Thats totally unacceptable. And setting up everything again, well it means resetting each device, adding it again, and re-writing groups, scripts, buttons, automations, etc. It sucks and its Apple which I have never said in 30 years.

Robert Lucas

I had exactly the same problem last week—HomeKit app stuck on loading scenes and accessories on all of my devices. However, in my case there was a happy ending. I called Apple support and got a very dedicated technician. He gave me his direct number, work hours, holidays, went off to research the problem and called back several times. Unfortunately, nothing he came up with solved the problem and it was looking like a reset was the only remaining option. I resisted because I have so many accessories, scenes, and automations. So he wrote up the case, asked me for… Read more »

Brian C. Bock

While I don’t agree that HomeKit is all that bad, I recognize that I could some day have the problem you are experiencing unless Apple improves their software. I totally agree that they should version their settings file/database so that you can roll back to a known good setup should something get mucked up. I have had a lot of issues with Apple software in general including Mac OS’s inability to consistently see its TimeMachine backup and absolutely dreadful palm rejection on their trackpad. But HomeKit has been a delight to me, so far. So I think it’s clickbait to… Read more »

JC Smith

We agree Lutron Caseta is great, wifi should be avoided for smart homes (and cams), ecobee therms are great too, I have them in three locations. If it were not for their non HomeKit stand alone feature, i would be screwed when HomeKit disappeared. And your idea to just have a roll back is the simple truth, the main point. Its like having an export config file for your router (and any camera or other device I own) and is absolutely a necessity for any system, including HomeKit. Meanwhile we take our chances, and poof I loose one of the… Read more »


Hey there!
I’m with ecobee here. I’m sorry to hear about your Homekit and Alexa routines issue with your ecobee. We don’t currently have Alexa Routines available with our ecobee, but once it’s opened up to us from Amazon, we can look into adding it with our ecobee. But I can help with any Homekit related issues you’re experiencing with your ecobee. Feel free to send me a direct email at [email protected]. If it’s disconnecting often, or not responding, I can help look into this issue! Looking forward to hearing from you!

[email protected]


Thank you Jeff for writing this. I have had a HomeKit set up for almost 2 years now with about 18 Smart bulbs, five smart plugs, a garage door opener, and an ecobee thermostat. The first year felt like perfection. This last Christmas, I ran into the exact same problem. Let’s just call it the HomeKit white screen of death. To make it worse, it happened while I was away from my home for the holiday. When I got home, I’d begrudgingly chose the nuclear option and begin to “rebuild“my smart home. That worked for about a month, when it… Read more »


I agree with Jeff and I also agree with Doug. Betas tend to cause all kinds of problems with HomeKit. The problem is HomeKit is very fragmented; beta or not. When there is a problem it is a huge mess.

Doug Petrosky

Anecdotal rubbish! I’m sure this happened to you and i’m sure it is frustrating but I also know you run a crap load of BETA software and you should know what to expect when running beta software. Now you are going to TRASH the only home control system that protects your privacy because of a bug that likely was never released to production code, and you never even contacting Apple to trouble shoot? I get trying not to be a fanboy, but you should give this a fair chance. Set it back up, kill the beta stuff and see how… Read more »

JC Smith

Actually ive had two documented case #s with Apple. Totally wiped out one of my three HomeKit configurations. They have no backup restore even though HomeKit is said to be backed up to the iCloud. It really sucks, and if or when it happens to you, you will be back here feeling our pain. its a fact that there is no backup. Could that ever be acceptable, whether databases, or anything? No.


Jeff, just out of curiosity, did you contact Apple Support for assistance before wiping your HomeKit setup? If so, how did that go?

John Kheit

The real problem is iCloud is a steaming pile. It regularly clobbers people’s contacts that won’t sync. And seems like HomeKit is built upon that sad sack.


I’ve had no trouble with iCloud. I use it to store documents so I can access them from all my devices, move pictures around, share pictures, as well as things like contacts and passwords. It’s been rock solid for me. Admittedly a sample size of one is not definitive so YMMV.

John Kheit

Sadly it does and I know more than a few people that have huge problems with contacts not syncing. There are probably hundreds of threads on it in the apple support forums. The solution is nuclear there too. Back up some subset of your contacts. Nuke ALL contacts on all iDevices, nuke them up on iCloud, repopulate one device and pray it propagates without corruption and things work out. “It just works” not. It works so well that this article was necessary:


John I wonder if the problem with contact syncing might be a complexity issue. I’ve had no problem between my iPhone, iPad and Mac, and my contacts don’t change much. But if it’s a family with 3-5 phones, an equal number of tablets, several Macs, plus ATV, plus who knows what else, adding, removing, or editing contacts several times a day by anyone in the group, that would be a harder problem. If it takes, for example an hour for iCloud to push any changes to all the devices and in the meantime more changes are made, you have a… Read more »


More iCloud failures: I have occasional problems with iCloud’s Two-factor Authentication. Just this last weekend I was trying to share my calendar with my wife and it sent an email to her which I tapped for her on her phone, then that wanted a login, so I let her log in to her iCloud account in Safari on the phone, then her phone popped up a 2FA dialog with a code to enter on the device that was trying to log in. Oh good job genius, its the very device the dialog itself is on, but the dialog blocks the… Read more »


I was chuckling at this, when I came to the last paragraph: Frankly, I don’t feel comfortable recommending any consumer-level smart home platform to the average user. Flipping a light switch is still far more reliable, even if it means setting down the groceries or walking into a dark room. Maybe some day that’ll change, and maybe some day Apple can prove to me HomeKit is robust enough to be my smart home platform—but not today. THIS! This is what I’ve been saying. The idea of home automation is interesting but all of these home automation schemes strike me as… Read more »


BTW I want to add that this is why I come to TMO. When Apple does well you say so, but you aren’t a fan site. When Apple screws up, puts out something they should be embarrassed about, or otherwise blows it, TMO isn’t afraid to to point it out. Articles like this, add to the credibility to your reporting.