It's been a little over 9 months since Tado finally shipped their HomeKit enabled internet bridge to users, now I've had a chance to really use it, how do I rate it? As a teacher might say, needs improvement.
Essentially the HomeKit integration allows you to access the Tado thermostats and smart radiator valves via your Home app or any other HomeKit app, in terms of control it really only lets you do one thing, set the temperature. The input from HomeKit is treated much the same as if you had manually controlled the Tado hardware, it will go to that temperature for a set period of time or until the next automatic scheduled change based on whatever you default settings are for manual input in the Tado settings.
Via the Home app you are also able to see what the current temperature is, what Tado is trying to heat to, and if you click into details what the current humidity is in the room.
What could be better?
The HomeKit support that Tado have introduced, whilst very welcome, feels somewhat superficial, a nod to HomeKit without any real committment to integrate fully and make the most of what HomeKit can offer. Of course the thermostat interface offered by Apple is limited, but that is not to say more couldn't be done.
Currently humidity is visible via HomeKit but only if you click through to device details where it appears as a variable of the thermostat. This does however mean it isn't readily available in the interface, instead Tado should split the humidity sensor out into a seperate HomeKit device so it's visible immediately in the interface.
Low battery warnings
Anyone who owns Tado smart radiator valves will know that they do tend to chew through batteries quite quickly. Tado are very good and email you to warn you, but if like me you see the email and then forget about it when you're actually next near the device in question this soon gets forgotten about. HomeKit has the capcity to notify users in the Home app about devices with low battery, Tado should utilise this functionality to put the battery status of their devices front and centre in the Home app to avoid them being so easily forgotten.
Here is a screenshot demonstrating a low battery status on an Elgato Eve Door & Window Sensor
Better use of HomeKit data
Currently Tado is providing an interface for input from HomeKit into the Tado system, but it's not making full use of all the other information that HomeKit can potentially provide to Tado to augment it's already impressive features.
For example, Tado can do open door or window detection to then shut off the heating for a period of time to save energy, this presumbly is based off of sudden drops in ambient temperature. However HomeKit can provide accurate data of the true state of doors and windows in a room with much greater accuracy and much quicker than the detection can. In my kitchen I have door sensors, Tado should give me the option of specifying if any of those doors or windows should be used to shut off the heating and supplement Tado's own detection.
Similarly in my living room I have a Netatmo Healthy Home Coach which can provide a plethora of data relavent to Tado such as humidity and temperature. Rather than utilising the somewhat inaccurate temperature "sensing" in the smart radiator valve, why not have the option to utilise the environmental data from the Netatmo Health Home Coach which is positioned much closer to where people actually sit in the living room.
Tado is a superb heating system, it gives home owners excellent control of their heating down to individual zones and offers truly intelligent heating that yields noticable energy savings. The integration of Tado into HomeKit is a very welcome addition but could do with some improvements to make maximum use of what HomeKit is able to offer.
And of course Apple themselves could do with expanding what the HomeKit device type for heating is able to do, for example allowing scheduling and other such things to be managed via HomeKit could remove the need for a dedicated Tado application altogether.