Update: I am not 100% sure this is what is working for me, it seems that the distance between the Aqua and the Apple TV sometimes reaches sometimes it doesnt. But I will keep this post for now until someone else share their tests too.
Today I bought an EVE Aqua, essentially a way to control a water tap from your mobile device. While setting it up, I was able to make it work on my dinning room table. But when installed in the patio which is some more meters further away from the Apple TV 4K (which is acting as the Home Hub) the Bluetooth signal was not reaching to the Apple TV.
I was not planning to move the TV nor the Apple TV to another location because its just impractical. I must confess I first tried “helping” both devices by wrapping them in tin foil from behind to try to concentrate the signal towards each other (I dont even know how Bluetooth signal works) but it was worth trying, as I read it helped some people boosting drone range signals. Also, it was so easy to try, so why no? unfortunately that didn’t work.
How to fix this then?
I contacted Apple Support over Twitter and asked them which devices could be set as home hub, they answered me: Only the Apple TV (4 onward), the iPad and the Apple HomePod (speaker) where the ones that could be set as home hub. So long for the idea of using an old iPhone 5s I have for that.
I then wanted to check if another device, configured with access to the same home kit “house” could act as a Bluetooth extender. And it did!
I configured my wife´s iPhone XR home kit, and while being connected to the same wireless network too and Bluetooth on, I was able to trigger the Eve Aqua valve from my phone with Bluetooth and Wifi off, over 4G (to simulate I was outside my house).
As I was ready to ask my wife to leave her iPhone XR at home from now on so we could trigger our garden watering remotely, I thought, if it works with the iPhone XR, why wouldn’t it work with an iPhone 5s?
I grabbed the old iPhone (oh it looks so tiny compared to today mobiles!) fortunately it still held some charge (I must have used it to test something a while ago). I reset it to factory defaults and then I made the latest iOS 12 update which was showing as available. I then proceeded to configure my own iCloud account so I could also use HomeKit and see the Eve Aqua too.
I left Bluetooth on, Wifi on connected to the same network as all the other devices and I left it plugged near the Eve Aqua on a shelf which I use for charging stuff while on the garden and of course is under a roof.
This worked, and pretty well. I mean, it did fail a couple of times, the app was showing as if the unit was not ON, when it was and did not reacted as fast as I would expect, but it seems that this device is sort of extending the reach-ability of devices using Bluetooth (like the Eve Aqua) to connect to the HomeKit Hub.
I still have to test it a bit longer for some days and I might update this post, but for now, everything seems to work fine. I might place one of the Arlo Pro 2 cameras temporary pointing to the garden when I am off on vacation just to double check when the sprinklers are actually running.
I am not sure if I just discovered something new, or if Apple actually supports this. I actually tried and asked Apple Support over Twitter but I received some answers pointing to some generic articles that did not answer my question.
Did you have a similar experience with home hub? Please share your comments below.