HomeScan for iOS/WatchOS (review)
£0.99 (UK) | $0.99 (US) | €1.09 (EU) | homescan.app
HomeScan is the latest HomeKit-centred app by Aaron Pearce, who is also responsible for very popular HomeCam and HomePass (you can read our full review of HomePass here). So, we know what HomeCam does by its very title, but what is HomeScan? Well basically, it allows you to use your iPhone and your Apple Watch to measure the signal strength of any bluetooth devices you may have in your house. This functionality isn’t restricted to HomeKit devices however, so anything that is kicking out a Bluetooth signal will be picked up by the app itself.
Some people will be wondering why they’d need to know the signal strength of a Bluetooth device, but if you’re an owner of any Elgato Eve devices, you’ll know exactly why this is important. Elgato Eve, as a prime example, use Bluetooth (as opposed to wifi) as the preferred method of connecting their devices to HomeKit. As Bluetooth has a less wider range than wifi in general, there may be times when placing a Bluetooth device like the Elgato Eve Door/Window sensor within range of the HomeKit hub (Apple TV, iPad or HomePod) is essential. This is where this app steps in to help you.
The basic idea is that you place your iPhone on top of the your hub (in my case an Apple TV 4K). Once you have the app open and running, all active Bluetooth devices that will be picked up by the app and will display a real-time measurement of the strength of the device signal in relation to the position of iPhone, and therefore ultimately the Apple TV. The reason for placing the iPhone on top of the app is simply to approximate the strength of said signals as if it were the Apple TV that was measuring the signal strength.
The measurements are shown in a series of circles, that go from a ‘theoretical’ zero, meaning full strength, to -100 or more. The ratings for signal strength are broken down into;
- good: 0 to -60 This is the optimal signal strength range
- OK: -61 to -70
- poor: -71 to -90
- Bad: less than -90
When you’re presented with readings like this, it soon becomes apparent why one Bluetooth device may struggle to connect to your hub. I live in an apartment but there are at least two thick walls between my Apple TV and the Eve Door/window Sensor. Predictably, the readout shows that the signal is poor, however I’m happy to say that despite this, the sensor does stay connected, so maybe that’s as much as testament to Eve products as anything else.
As mentioned before, the app can spot all Bluetooth devices within range, regardless of whether they’re HomeKit devices or not. In addition, the app will attempt to label the names of these devices, so you know which device is which. If you have an ‘unnamed device’ and you know what it is, you have the option to manually add the name to the device yourself. You can also label these devices as HomeKit compatible. The final part of the app displays the signal strength in a graph as opposed to the ‘ring’ display format.
Now, even though this is an iOS app, once you purchase it, you also get the companion Apple Watch app as well. This gives even more functionality. How? Well, if you’ve got a Bluetooth product and you want to ensure its placed where the signal from the device to the hub is at best, or at least adequate, you can simply place the iPhone and the running app on your hub, then move around with the Bluetooth device all while seeing the signal strength on the Apple Watch. This allows you to freely move the device from place to place until you find the optimal location. Without an Apple Watch, you’d simply have to keep going back to the iPhone to see the readings.
If you’ve got anything at all that uses Bluetooth and you’re having issues with connectivity, this has to be the easiest and cleanest app for getting to the bottom of those issues, and working out how to remedy them. Not bad for $0.99.