How to use Apple's HomeKit Secure Video in iOS 13

Posted:
in iOS edited February 2020
Apple's HomeKit Secure Video in iOS 13 allows smart home device users to encrypt security camera feeds end-to-end and securely store those videos within iCloud. This is everything you need to know about the feature and how to use it.

The HomeKit Secure Video interface in the Home app
The HomeKit Secure Video interface in the Home app


Apple launched HomeKit Secure Video in iCloud as part of iOS 13, though support didn't fully arrive until iOS 13.2 in October. For the first time, users can store video footage without leaving Apple's ecosystem, negating the need for third-party hosting services.

It comes with many other benefits as well, as we will explain in this hands-on guide.

Getting started

To start using HomeKit Secure Video, you must have a compatible camera.

Circle 2 now supports HomeKit Secure Video in beta
Logitech Circle 2 now supports Apple's HomeKit Secure Video in beta form


Currently, hardware is limited to the Logitech Circle 2, support of which just launched in beta form on Thursday. Netatmo also announced that the upcoming Smart Video Doorbell will support HomeKit Secure Video when it launches later this year, with its Smart Indoor Camera and Smart Outdoor Camera set to gain compatibility in a free automatic firmware update soon after. More models will likely offer support down the line, such as the new Eufy cameras from Anker.

Regardless of which camera you have, it will likely need a software update before the feature becomes active. After the update, it will be capable of recording video from within the Home app and will, in the case of the Circle 2, no longer capture footage in the native Circle application.

HomeKit Secure Video basics

HomeKit Secure Video is a great alternative to third-party solutions that send users to multiple apps for different functions.

With Apple's feature, iCloud stores up to ten days of recordings per camera if a user is subscribed to the 200GB iCloud Storage Plan. If users jump up to the 2TB iCloud Storage Plan they receive ten days of recordings for up to five cameras. Better yet, HomeKit recordings don't count against your storage plan. The 2TB plan only runs $9.99, which is far cheaper than most alternatives.

HomeKit Secure Video stores up to 10 days of security camera footage
HomeKit Secure Video stores up to 10 days of security camera footage


The last piece to the whole puzzle is ensuring your iOS device is updated to iOS 13.2 or later.

With that done, we can start to use HomeKit Secure Video.

How to use HomeKit Secure Video

Compatible cameras updated to work with HomeKit Secure Video will appear in the Home app. At first glance, they look no different than before, but changes become apparent upon accessing a feed.

Setup

Starting out, opening a camera and tapping the gear icon will bring up cameras settings. Users can choose independent stream and record options on a per-camera basis: Off, which will not stream or record anything very similar to a privacy mode; Detect Activity, which allows the camera to detect motion and send notifications and trigger automations but not stream or record; Stream, which allows users in the home to stream and detect motion but not record; and Stream & Allow Recording, which will do all of the above.

Choose streaming and recording options for when users are home and while users are away.
Choose streaming and recording options for when users are home and while users are away.


Users can set a camera to one of the available options while they are home and another for when they are away. Perhaps if the camera is inside you want it completely off while you are at home but want it to record while you are away. Or maybe it is in a shared room where you want it to detect motion so it can turn on lights when people enter the room, but you don't want it to record while you are home.

There are many options here and functionality can be tailored to your preference with privacy in mind. Some HomeKit cameras never had options to enter "just detection" mode when users were home, so this is a huge leap in user privacy.

Recording options for HomeKit Secure Video
Recording options for HomeKit Secure Video


Beyond that, users can customize recording options. On Circle 2, for example, users can record any motion or set recording to capture specific motion categorized by people, animals or vehicles, each of which can each be toggled on or off independently. Users can also opt out of recording audio or can delete all recordings captured by the camera.

There are also many new actions exposed for cameras that work with HomeKit Secure Video. Looking again at the Circle 2 cameras, without HomeKit Secure Video users only have options for controlling notifications within Settings. However, with HomeKit Secure Video enabled, users can now control the camera's status light and the night vision light.

Recordings

Once recordings are enabled, users will notice a timeline at the bottom of the camera's live display. It will be first and foremost on the live view, but the option to scrub back in time to previous recordings is easily apparent and denoted by a thumbnail. Each thumbnail is also adorned with an icon that designates what kind of motion was detected, such as animal, person or vehicle.

To jump between days, a week-long calendar is displayed at the top. Days that have recordings are shown in orange.

Viewing HomeKit Secure Video clips
Viewing HomeKit Secure Video clips


When viewing a clip, footage can be exported by tapping on the Share Sheet icon in the lower left-hand corner. Clips can be shared like any other video including saved to the camera roll, exported to the Files app, or messaged to a friend.

Notably, while these recordings are stored in "iCloud," they aren't available outside of the Home app. Third-party HomeKit apps don't have access to them and users can't even find the stored clips within the Files app or Finder and iCloud Drive.

HomeKit secure video is available now with iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 or later and currently supports the Logitech Circle 2 with additional cameras planned for the future.
epheterson
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,011member
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
  • Reply 2 of 30
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 533member, editor
    rob53 said:
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
    Apple is encrypting and they do not have access to it and are unable to decrypt.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 30
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,011member
    rob53 said:
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
    Apple is encrypting and they do not have access to it and are unable to decrypt.
    If Apple is encrypting they have the encryption keys so they can technically decrypt the videos. The only way Apple doesn't have the keys is if Apple isn't handling the encryption on the iCloud servers, only using the user's encryption keys to store an encrypted file on iCloud. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to see a technical statement from Apple (security document) documenting the process. I hope you're correct since that makes this new feature worth using without worrying about anyone grabbing the videos and decrypting them. The user's keys are stored on the user's computer and include the camera systems key so the two together allow for the encrypting and decrypting. 
    sergioz
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 533member, editor
    rob53 said:
    rob53 said:
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
    Apple is encrypting and they do not have access to it and are unable to decrypt.
    If Apple is encrypting they have the encryption keys so they can technically decrypt the videos. The only way Apple doesn't have the keys is if Apple isn't handling the encryption on the iCloud servers, only using the user's encryption keys to store an encrypted file on iCloud. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to see a technical statement from Apple (security document) documenting the process. I hope you're correct since that makes this new feature worth using without worrying about anyone grabbing the videos and decrypting them. The user's keys are stored on the user's computer and include the camera systems key so the two together allow for the encrypting and decrypting. 
    It’s very similar, I’m sure, to how they end-to-end encrypt iMessages. Apple said “We designed iMessage and FaceTime so that there's no way for us to decrypt your data” at the time. The same will likely apply to these files as well.
    cornchipStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 30
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 30
    If the video files are on iCloud but not visible how does one download and archive older videos? 
  • Reply 7 of 30
    Once we switch over to HomeKit secured storage and remove our cameras from the Circle app, how do we get future firmware updates? Beyond beta firmware?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 30
    > An icon that designates what kind of motion was detected, such as animal, person or vehicle.

    Is this a feature of the Logitech Circle 2 beta firmware?
  • Reply 9 of 30
    arlorarlor Posts: 529member
    rob53 said:
    rob53 said:
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
    Apple is encrypting and they do not have access to it and are unable to decrypt.
    If Apple is encrypting they have the encryption keys so they can technically decrypt the videos. The only way Apple doesn't have the keys is if Apple isn't handling the encryption on the iCloud servers, only using the user's encryption keys to store an encrypted file on iCloud. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to see a technical statement from Apple (security document) documenting the process. I hope you're correct since that makes this new feature worth using without worrying about anyone grabbing the videos and decrypting them. The user's keys are stored on the user's computer and include the camera systems key so the two together allow for the encrypting and decrypting. 
    A technical statement would be reassuring, but presumably it's some form of public key encryption, in which Apple is encrypting on the device and doesn't have the private key needed to decrypt. If the data is sent unencrypted to the cloud, then there could be an interception point, so that seems unlikely.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    bogdancb said:
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    Only the wired Circle 2 is HomeKit enabled.
    So I'd be surprised ig the Circle 2 wireless was suddenly HomeKit compatible.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    bogdancb said:
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    If the camera is stolen, don't you have bigger problems?

    Though I guess this depends on what you were using the camera for.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    jeromec said:
    bogdancb said:
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    Only the wired Circle 2 is HomeKit enabled.
    So I'd be surprised ig the Circle 2 wireless was suddenly HomeKit compatible.

    Is that correct?  I'm not very familiar with the Circle 2 range, but I thought it was one camera that could be wired or wireless, depending on the mount selected – I couldn’t see on the Logitech website that HomeKit is wired only?

    I’m only interested in a wireless set-up, so no HomeKit means no sale for me, but thanks for the info otherwise.


  • Reply 13 of 30
    lukeilukei Posts: 370member
    bogdancb said:
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    The Logitech Circle 2 wireless doesn’t work with HomeKit
  • Reply 14 of 30
    lukeilukei Posts: 370member
    jeromec said:
    bogdancb said:
    Say the camera is stolen/broken, can the user still access the footage? Is this update available for Logitech Circle 2 Wireless, too?
    Only the wired Circle 2 is HomeKit enabled.
    So I'd be surprised ig the Circle 2 wireless was suddenly HomeKit compatible.

    Is that correct?  I'm not very familiar with the Circle 2 range, but I thought it was one camera that could be wired or wireless, depending on the mount selected – I couldn’t see on the Logitech website that HomeKit is wired only?

    I’m only interested in a wireless set-up, so no HomeKit means no sale for me, but thanks for the info otherwise.


    There are two versions of the Circe 2. Wired and wireless. Only the Wired is HomeKit compatible. 
  • Reply 15 of 30
    I can’t get the timeline view to show up... period. 200gb plan, 2 homepods, 4 apple tvs, 4 netatmo cameras and 1 wired pro circle. Pro circle will let me chane the camera and motion settings in HomeKit but refuses to display a recording timeline.
    edited November 2019 cornchip
  • Reply 16 of 30
    The footage is accessible either through your iCloud account or your Logitech account not the camera. If the camera was stolen, it would still be attached to your account unless it was factory reset which means no, the person could not access your video through the camera. 
  • Reply 17 of 30
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 610member
    Small but significant: Apple says the 200 GB plan technically allows ten days of video per camera, but it only allows one camera.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 533member, editor
    I can’t get the timeline view to show up... period. 200gb plan, 2 homepods, 4 apple tvs, 4 netatmo cameras and 1 wired pro circle. Pro circle will let me chane the camera and motion settings in HomeKit but refuses to display a recording timeline.
    Have you updated your Circle 2 to the beta from within the Circle app? You can do so from the Smart Home Integrations panel under HomeKit.

    Once you do that, it will update to the beta firmware and work with HomeKit Secure Video. After that, you need to have recordings available. If you don’t have it set to record, it won’t record anything. For me, they were both set to Detect Activity by default. 
  • Reply 19 of 30
    > An icon that designates what kind of motion was detected, such as animal, person or vehicle.

    Is this a feature of the Logitech Circle 2 beta firmware?
    As far as I understand it's a feature you get access to if you are on one of Logitech's paid plans - maybe even only the highest $10/month tier. It would be interesting to know if this feature was available on homekit secure video for customers that aren't on a paid Logitech plan.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    rob53 said:
    End-to-end encryption, storage on iCloud and not accessible outside the Home app. Who’s encryption is used on iCloud? If Apple has the encryption keys for iCloud are they able to decrypt the video after being served with a warrant? 
    As with the FBI and Apple debacle, Apple handed over everything they had on the iCloud. If you opt to have it sit on the cloud then they have a key and a warrant will work. 
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