I’ve seen Twinkly as a product in the last year after learning about them through Shane Whatley’s YouTube channel. Previously, to work with HomeKit, you had to bridge between them using a product like HOOBS. Late last year, however, native HomeKit support was added. You may think that these items are only for Christmas, but they will be useful in all sorts of situations – not just Christmas lights.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focusing on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
Turn signals come in different lengths, but I started with the 250 foot version. There are opportunities that also come with less and more. I would measure what you need in advance as they can not be extended nor can you “cut” feet from a wall. I always work under the mindset that I would rather have more than not enough.
In unboxing Twinkly, I was expecting a cable nightmare. Christmas lights are generally quite difficult to quarrel with, and adding electronics on top of that – seems like a nightmare while waiting. But to my surprise, the team at Twinkly put a lot of effort into making the lights easy to pull and avoid getting tangled up. During December, I started testing them, and since our Christmas tree was already lit for the year, I decided to string them up to our stairs to the second level of our home. The whole process took maybe ten minutes, including taking the dog out in the middle of it.
Once you’ve got the lights where you want them, use the Twinkly iPhone app to build the lights into your Wi-Fi. It is a fairly smooth process that includes holding down the power button until it turns blue / green. Once the app has detected the light, enter your Wi-Fi password and you are in the running.
I also downloaded Twinkly Music, which is a USB-powered dongle that can sync your lights to a nearby audio source. I plugged it in right near one of my HomePod minis. When you set the app to “Music mode”, it will skip your music to what’s playing on Apple Music, Spotify, etc. For less than $ 50, Twinkly Music is an ideal addition to Twinkly.
One complaint I had was that I did not seem to tie a specific easy playlist to run while the music was playing. That’s something I would love to see Twinkly add in a future update. The music section runs based on music types (pop, chill, etc.).
Otherwise, it’s a great addition and would be great for a dinner party, games room, etc.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Twinkly recently added HomeKit support to the lights. Onboarding is done in the Tiwnkly app in the settings. My lights required a firmware update, so if you do not see the HomeKit section, make sure it is up to date.
The Home app can not control all of Twinky’s settings except to turn them off and on and set the brightness level. So you need to use the Twinkly app to start the music function as well as trigger the various lighting effects.
HomeKit support will be useful when using other devices to control the light on / off function. For example, let’s say you used them in a patio set and you use HomeKit to set them to turn on and off based on dusk / dawn, a HomeKit-enabled door sensor, or the motion sensor aspect of an outdoor HomeKit camera. If the lights are used indoors, you can use an indoor motion sensor to turn them on. In my test, if the Twinkly lights are off using a pattern that is not supported by HomeKit, it retained the light pattern by turning them on again using HomeKit.
Finish on Twinkly
When I started testing them, I assumed that Twinkly would only be useful at Christmas time, but in my testing and use of them, I have realized that they are an upgraded version of a HomeKit light strip. So I plan to use them to turn on lights over our outdoor patio in the house we are building.
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