How to use Ring with HomeKit
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Users of both Ring and Apple products, like me, have long asked for integration between the two. Ring has officially announced it at least twice, and yet we continue to wait for Ring HomeKit support through alternating vague excuses and silence. Ring has had it’s share of bad press, but for me they still offer value for money in terms of features, and they’ve been pretty damn reliable in my experience.
I even had an original V1 Ring Video Doorbell from when they first came out, and it’s still going strong. Even the battery life is still decent. But for those of us that want a truly integrated smart home experience, it’s no good having separate apps for all our different devices. Getting those cameras into my preferred platform, HomeKit, was a must, and I got tired of waiting for Ring.
Is Ring HomeKit compatible?
The official answer is still no. But thanks to some inventive reverse engineering by the HomeKit developer community, there is actually a software solution available that can get the two systems talking to each other.
Many smart devices connect to smart home platforms by way of a hub or bridge. These devices act as translators that handle communication between different platforms or network protocols. A software version of a bridge has been created to handle translation of commands between HomeKit and products that don’t officially support it, including Ring. This tool is called, naturally, HomeBridge.
What is Homebridge?
HomeBridge is a piece of software that runs quietly in the background somewhere on your home network and acts just like a normal smart home bridge device, just like the Philips Hue Bridge and similar. Being open source, it’s free to use, and runs on a wide variety of computer platforms, so you’ll be able to find a option that works for you.
Just like formally supported bridges, it translates the device maker’s commands to and from HomeKit. HomeKit only requires the bridge device to be supported, so any devices that connect to the bridge will be recognized by HomeKit automatically.
Normally such devices are defined by the bridge maker, but in HomeBridge’s case it’s defined by third party plugins, kind of like Alexa skills. There are hundreds available that you can simply install to add those devices to your HomeKit smart home, so on top of the Ring plugin you’ll be able to find all sorts of other useful opportunities once you have HomeBridge installed.
In Ring’s case, the appropriate plugin provides a connection between Ring’s cloud services and your Home Hub allowing HomeKit to see your Ring devices just like any other HomeKit accessory. I’ve found the plugin to be very reliable, and surprisingly responsive given the extra hops things have to go through.
Since HomeBridge is very light on resources, you don’t need a heavy lifting server to run it, and you want it to sit in the background and do it’s thing 24/7. As such, the best way to run it is on an inexpensive Raspberry Pi. These are tiny computers about the size of a deck of cards, similar to other smart home bridge devices, so they’re easy to place out of the way and you don’t have to worry about heat or noise.
I find messing around with smart home stuff and integration projects can be fun, but if you’re going to make something a permanent feature of your smart home you ultimately need it to be reliable and low maintenance. For that reason we’re going to use a version called HOOBS (HomeBridge Out Of Box System), which has taken care of all the fiddly bits for you.
HOOBS runs right out of the box - hence the name. All you have to do is connect it to your network and you’ll be ready to start installing plugins using its easy to use interface. Afterwards you can use that interface, or a nice companion iPhone app, to do the odd update to the bridge or the plugins with a couple of taps, just like any other accessory.
HOOBS offers three ways to get your initial setup done and have a server up and running quickly. In order of increasing cost (and simplicity) these are:
Getting Started Checklist
Your HomeKit setup needs to include a home hub to ensure HomeBridge can work reliably.
A Raspberry Pi device (for option 1 or 2). I recommend this starter kit as it has everything you’ll need. You’ll need a 3B+ or 4 model to handle video streaming from multiple cameras.
A HOOBS image if you didn’t go for the pre-built unit (option 3). You can buy this preinstalled on a MicroSD card from the HOOBS site, or you can download it onto your own. See my HOOBS Guide for how to get the image onto your card. It’s a bit more work, but it’s the cheapest option.
How to Connect Ring to Homekit Using HOOBS
Plug in the Raspberry Pi.
Connect HOOBS to your network.
Pair HOOBS with HomeKit.
Install the Ring plugin.
Connect the plugin to your Ring account.
1 - Connect the Raspberry Pi
Unbox your Pi, insert the prepared MicroSD card, and power it up. If you have a monitor connected, you’ll see some instructions for setting up WiFi and connecting to the user interface, but you don’t have to.
Note that you don’t need to connect a mouse or keyboard to the Raspberry Pi.
2 - Set up HOOBS on your network
HOOBS has taken care of network configuration already if your using a wired Ethernet connection, otherwise you just need to connect to it’s temporary WiFi network. This is similar to the way many other smart devices do their setup.
On your iPhone check for the WiFi network ‘HOOBS’. Once you connect to that, you’ll be prompted to select your WiFi network, and enter the passphrase. This will configure the HOOBS box on your network. Don’t worry if you mess it up, the process will reset itself if the connection fails, and you can start over.
Once the connection is up and running, you simply fire up a web browser and connect to the HOOBS interface by going to http://hoobs.local.
You’ll need to enter an username and password to use as your administrator account, be sure to write these down.
3 - Pair HOOBS with HomeKit
HOOBS will now log in and take you to the dashboard. This is where you run your Homebridge server from.
Before we add any plugins, I like to get the basics out of the way first and make sure we’re paired with HomeKit successfully. This is easy as HOOBS provides a standard HomeKit pairing QR code right there on the dashboard.
Just go into the Apple Home app, add an accessory, and scan the code with the iPhone camera. A successful pairing will add your HOOBS instance to the list of hubs and bridges in the Home app. You can check that by going to the House icon in the top left, scrolling down to Home Settings, then open the Hubs and Bridges section. You can assign your HOOBS device to a room if you wish from there.
4 - Install the Ring plugin
Once you’re connected to HomeKit, go back into the HOOBS dashboard to install the Ring plugin.
Click the Plugin icon on the menu bar (the puzzle piece)
Click Search and type ‘ring’ in the text field
Look for the plugin called Ring with the HOOBS Certified logo above it.
The install will run and then the HOOBS service will restart.
5 - Connect the plugin to your Ring account
Now we just have to log your Ring account into the plugin so it can access your devices. Ring is a platform service, which means all of it’s control is managed by Ring’s servers, so all we need to do is hook into that the same as the Ring app does, and we get the same access for HomeKit.
Ring mandates two factor authentication now, and we don’t want to have to enter a code into HOOBS all the time. The way around that is to generate an authentication token that HOOBS can use instead of your login details. The plugin provides a tool to do this, but you need to run it from the terminal.
Click the ‘three dots’ menu in the top right corner of HOOBS
Copy this command into the terminal and press ENTER.
npx -p ring-client-api ring-auth-cli
You’ll get a prompt to enter your Ring email address and password, enter those.
Ring will send you a two factor code, enter that into the prompt provided.
The tool will generate a long string of letters and numbers in double quotes. Copy the string between the quotes (not the quotes themselves)
Click the Plugins menu icon again.
The Ring plugin will be listed. Click Configuration next to the gear icon.
Paste the token into the top field called Refresh Token.
Click the Save Changes button on the side bar to the left.
The service will restart. If you’ve entered the code correctly, all your Ring devices will now start appearing in HomeKit. They will initially default to the same room as your HOOBS server, and you can reassign them from there as with any other accessory.
What Ring HomeKit integration can do
There are a number of options in the plugin’s configuration page that you can play with to customize your Ring experience in HomeKit. Depending on your needs or preferences, you can show and hide various features, and adjust things like the smart lighting timers and whether to share light groups from the Ring app. The options all have good explanations, so they should be easy enough to follow and experiment with. Just remember to Save Changes after adjusting anything.
Ring cameras in HomeKit
All camera devices are now available, and will generate thumbnails in the Home app the same as any other HomeKit camera, refreshed every 10 seconds. This is dependent on your Ring mode settings, as the cameras will not generate snapshot if their motion detection is turned off (this is separate to notification settings).
You can initiate live view from the Home app by tapping the camera, and the stream will start in about the same time as you would see in the Ring app. This is significantly slower than native HomeKit cameras, though, because it’s going via the Ring cloud, where HomeKit cameras are directly connected to your local network.
Other features of the cameras will be added as well, including flood lights, sirens, and motion sensors, depending on the model. All of these can be used in automations and scenes as with any other HomeKit devices.
Ring doorbells in HomeKit
As with other camera devices, doorbells have the same capabilities and will act the same as cameras. But you also get the doorbell button itself, which can be used to trigger scenes when pressed.
If you enable HomeKit notifications for a doorbell device, you’ll also receive a snapshot from the camera when the doorbell is pressed on your iPhone, and you can enable it to Chime on a HomePod, if you have one.
Ring Alarm in HomeKit
All the alarm accessories are support, presenting various values and controls. For example, you can monitor the keypad battery level, trigger automations off of contact and motion sensors, Get alerts from water, smoke, and CO sensors, and control smart locks connected to your Ring system.
You’ll see a security panel in the Home app that shows the status of the system, and the ability to change modes between Home, Away, and Disarm. Note that this will appear even if you don’t have the alarm products, as it also controls the Camera modes for Ring cameras. You can change this state via automations, but as a security precaution HomeKit doesn’t allow this to be done via location triggers without asking you for confirmation.
You can also create virtual Home app emergency buttons as options in the plugin configuration. Burglar Alarm, Fire Alarm, and Panic Buttons are supported, but beware that these will trigger the monitored alarm response from Ring and may result in emergency services being called.
Ring smart lighting in HomeKit
Various Ring products that connect to the Ring bridge can be controlled as normal HomeKit accessories. These include lights, fans, thermostats, and switches. They will appear as a normal HomeKit accessory of that type and behave the same as native accessories do.
This means all of these devices can be used in scenes and automations along with your other HomeKit devices to make a much more cohesive smart home.
As your Ring devices will be seen by HomeKit as normal accessories, any notifications that are supported can be enabled for them as well. This includes motion notifications from your cameras, doorbell rings from doorbells, and other triggering notifications from the various sensors in a Ring Alarm setup.
Note that because the link between the two systems has to go through a number of steps, Notifications can be a bit slower than using the Ring app directly. There are still reasons to use them though, such as getting slightly better control over when to receive them than Ring provides.
For example, the Modes features allows you to disable motion detection for a camera in certain modes, but that prevents it recording as well. If you wanted to have events recorded, but not be notified while you’re at home, HomeKit can do that as it provides for better conditional control around notification settings per device.
What else can Homebridge do?
For me, Ring was the initial driver that pushed me to finally bite the bullet on installing HomeBridge. It was harder back then, since HOOBS didn’t exist yet, but now it’s an almost commerical-grade product and far easier to install and maintain.
Once you have a Homebridge/HOOBS instance running in your HomeKit setup, you can start adding other plugins. Many of these are specific to certain products and services, like Sensibo, Chamberlain, Broadlink, and even Alexa. Others provide useful enhancements to HomeKit such as Dummy Switches.
If you have other unsupported devices, it’s worth searching the plugin list to see if there is something there you can use. With over 2000 plugins available there’s a good chance. This also opens up other options for selecting accessories to buy, as it’s quite likely there will be a plugin for it, or enhancing your automations by connecting to online services like weather forecasts.
Ring’s device ecosystem is growing constantly, and these devices all have the potential to be useful in HomeKit beyond just their base functionality. Once they’re added, you can start to create automation rules and scenes tying all your devices together. It’s unfortunate Ring can’t or won’t provide this capability themselves, but really, it’s unlikely a native offering would be any better than what Homebridge provides these days.
The ability to connect all manner of additional sensors and switches to your HomeKit automations, and leverage the motion detection capabilities of the cameras is super useful. Siri commands can be used to control the Ring Alarm state if you have one, such as “Set Ring alarm to away” or “Turn off Ring Alarm”, and the ability to integrate with other third party devices only extends the utility of this plug-in.
HomeBridge can be setup on a Rasberry Pi that costs less than most HomeKit accessories and left to run just like any other smart hub, and once you have it you’ll likely find other products you want to use it with to expand your HomeKit setup.