When it first launched, Apple's HomeKit was a famously closed-off ecosystem, thanks in part to a rigid certification process that required companies to include an Apple-designed authentication chip in every piece of hardware that worked on the platform.
Luckily Apple has since softened its requirements, without in principle weakening security, with the introduction of software-based authentication. This has opened the door to a whole host of new HomeKit-enabled products - even allowing manufacturers to retroactively add HomeKit support through software and firmware patches, rather than requiring consumers to pick up new hardware.
That means that if you dream of controlling every light in your house directly from your iPhone, you now have a lot more ways to do it. That's great news, but it also means it's a lot harder to know what kit to buy. With our recommendations to guide you, now's the time to take the plunge and commit to owning light bulbs that are smarter than you are.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
Philips was one of the first major smart light manufacturers to jump on the HomeKit bandwagon, actually adding Apple's HomeKit authentication chip to its Hue hubs.
The deluxe B22 Hue starter kit includes said hub, along with three colour-changing bayonet bulbs and a dimmer switch. (There are other sets with E27 screw bulbs and US-compatible types - as well as options with just two bulbs, or without the switch - so check your fittings before buying.)
You can use the official Philips app or Apple Home to set brightness, warmth, or colour of the bulbs, along with setting them to activate on a schedule or whenever you approach your home.
Through HomeKit, you can control the lights with Siri, asking her to switch them on and off, dim to a specific brightness, switch to a pre-set scene, and more.
Philips Hue White And Colour Ambience (2-pack)
The Hue Starter Kit discussed above is a little pricey, as it includes both the Hue light bulbs and the separate Hue Bridge that connects to your Wi-Fi router in order to add HomeKit compatibility. There's a less expensive option available, though, as Philips has recently expanded the Hue range with a number of bulbs and lights that can simply be controlled using the Hue app and Bluetooth - while also giving you the option of upgrading to HomeKit in the future if you want to.
There are several options in the new Bluetooth range, with plain white bulbs starting at around £25/$10 each. However, this more versatile White And Colour Ambience kit is a great option for getting started with smart lighting. It costs £85/$90 when bought direct from Philips, but we've seen it for less than £60 on Amazon in the UK.
The White And Colour Ambience kit includes two bulbs - available with E27, B22 and GU10 fittings suitable for homes in both the EU and US; check the range here - and, as the name implies, they're capable of creating both white and coloured lighting effects, which can be controlled via the Hue app.
The app works well too, quickly detecting and setting up each bulb for you, and providing dozens of preset lighting effects to suit different moods. And, if you like the versatility of these Bluetooth lights, then you can expand your Hue system and add HomeKit compatibility simply by buying one of the many other Hue kits that includes the Bridge. Cliff Joseph
Philips Hue Filament
Modern LED lights are very power-efficient, and it's great that you can control them via Bluetooth or HomeKit. However, LEDs don't have the same look as traditional incandescent lights, and might not match the lamps and other fittings you already have; some people also prefer the warm glow and cosy mood created by incandescents. With this in mind, Philips has now added a new range of 'filament' LED lights to its Hue range, which are designed to emulate a vintage style.
There are three bulbs in the range, starting at £17.99/$24.99 for the Filament Standard, which looks just like a conventional household bulb. You can also opt for the old-fashioned, elongated design of the Edison for £19.99/$27.99, or the larger Globe for £24.99/$32.99; the latter looks great for overhead lighting in the dining room.
Unlike most LED lights, the Hue filament bulbs all have a see-through casing, like a conventional glass bulb, with an amber coating that helps create a warm, comfortable glow. But, of course, they also provide the smart features you'd expect from an LED light, including Bluetooth control via the Hue app. This allows you to quickly adjust the brightness level, and also includes preset options, such as a 'nightlight' for use in the bedroom.
When bought on their own the filament bulbs just use Bluetooth, but they can also be upgraded to work with Apple's HomeKit if you buy one of Philips' Hue Starter Kits, which contain the Hue Bridge that connects to your Wi-Fi router. Cliff Joseph
LIFX wasn't one of the first companies to jump on the HomeKit bandwagon, but its third-generation bulbs include support for the Apple standard, and the company says it's investigating software options to add support for older bulbs too.
These bulbs may look pretty similar to Philips Hue - and they offer a lot of the same functionality - but there is one big difference: there's no need for a hub, as each bulb can independently connect to Wi-Fi and be controlled directly.
If you're planning to kit out your whole house that may not matter all too much, but it's ideal if you only want one or two bulbs, as it saves you from committing to the Hue three-bulb starter kit. It's also great if your home isn't well set up for plugging a hub directly into the router.
The other benefit is that the bulbs are available in either screw fittings or bayonet style, and along with HomeKit they also work with IFTTT and Alexa for more complex triggers. And even though there's no hub, you can still get the bulbs to coordinate, creating scenes involving multiple bulbs with different settings.
Nanoleaf Starter Kit
The Nanoleaf Starter Kit isn't an ordinary lightbulb that you plug into your ceiling socket. Instead, it's a series of connected panels that you can mount on the wall or ceiling and control individually.
Each panel can be set to its own static colour, or you can set the whole lot to cycle through a range of colours or even change randomly, with plenty of options for brightness and speed. There's a whole set of pre-selected colour palettes, but you can also create your own combinations at will.
You can arrange the nine panels in any configuration you want (as long as they're all connected) and they mount with reversible Scotch tape, so it's easy enough to take them down and rearrange them. You can also buy expansion packs with an additional three panels in each, and the company is even working on a set that flashes in time to any music that's playing.
The networking side of things can be a little patchy - our Aurora has dropped from our Wi-Fi network a few times already, and occasionally refused to re-connect. It's worth putting up with those hiccups, though, because when it works the Aurora is one of the most jaw-dropping smart lighting kits around.
If you're a fan of the configuration of the Nanoleaf Starter Kit, then you should also consider the the Nanoleaf Canvas, which consists of nine square LED panels as opposed to triangular panels. You can arrange these shapes into any order you like to create your own bespoke design.
As with the original, you can control the lights and colours directly from your iPhone or via voice control, or set up modes that allow the tiles to change colour in response to music. However, this setting can be a bit hit and miss as it relies on how close your speakers are in comparison to the lights. Nonetheless, this is still a unique piece of lighting that doubles up as an art piece.
The canvas is around the same price as the original, but is still on the expensive side in comparison to some of the other smart lighting items on this list.
Koogeek Smart Dimmer DM02CN
This attractive double dimmer switch gives you versatile control over a pair of lights.
Tap up or down to turn a light on (at the previous setting) or off; hold up or down to increase or decrease the brightness; or control them via the Home app on an iPhone or iPad, Siri voice control ("set dimmer to 20 percent"), or pre-programmed automation, such as turning on the lights at a dim setting when you have to wake up, then a brighter one 10 minutes later.
Be warned that it's not easy to set up. For a start, your lights may not be compatible: multi-location switches (ie when a light is controlled by more than one switch) cannot be upgraded with this device, and you'll need to make sure you've got dimmer-compatible bulbs too.
But beyond this, taking out a light switch and replacing it with another - one that could have a slightly different wiring map and, since it's quite chunky, may be larger than the existing cavity - can be intimidating if you're not used to DIY electrics.
If you're up for the challenge, however, this is a handy way to make your lights smarter and easier to control. Koogeek also makes units for single switches (the KH03 and KH03CN), although these may be hard to get hold of in the UK.
Lightwave Dimmer Switches
To operate the Lightwave Dimmer Switches, you'll have to replace your current normal switches entirely. They're recommended for homes with multiple spotlights, allowing you to save money when one bulb blows as you'll only need to buy a regular replacement.
Alongside the lightwave you'll need to purchase a Link Plus hub to manage your kit, and from there you can add on as many devices as you please. This doesn't just extend to lighting - you can also control smart home devices that manage your hot water, heating, your curtains/blinds and more.
Find out more in our Lightwave smart lighting review.
LIFX doesn't just make smart lightbulbs; the company's range also extends to more decorative lighting like this LED strip. You get two strips in the box, and can choose from a range of colours, or just basic bright white to jazz up your home. They can be attached to most flat surfaces and are also water resistant.
You can control your light's setting directly from an app, providing that the strips are within Wi-Fi range, something to keep in mind when choosing a placement in your home. The white range is also extremely customisable, allowing you to choose from 2500-9000K to create different warm of cool tones depending on your preference.
If you'd like to add more strips, you can purchase more for £29.99/$29.99 each. Each strip is 1m in length, and the app can control up to ten strips in total.
Another decorative light from LIFX is the Beam, which doesn't technically light up an entire room, but more acts as a feature light, similar to a neon light that you'd buy for a wall.
With this set you get six plastic 'beams' which can stick onto a wall and join together via magnets. The lights can be adjusted to various shades of white and different colours, or be set to different patterns or settings to create a more artistic look. You can also choose a setting that emulates the natural light throughout the day.
Find out more in our LIFX Beam review.