Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

How to turn your iPad into smart display

how to turn your ipad into smart display homelkit apple
Apple Newsroom

You may think you're missing out on all the smart home fun because you don't have a Nest Hub or Echo Show. Did you know you can turn an iPad into a smart display with just a few steps.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • An iPad (preferably an older model)

Going out and buying a new smart display isn't the only way to have a device that controls your smart accessories and gives you information. We've covered how you can turn a PC or tablet into an Alexa device. Learn how to turn an old iPad into a smart home hub for Homekit.

Note: In order to use the iPad as a Home hub, it must stay in your home, powered on, and connected to your home wifi network.

how to turn your ipad into smart display homekit
Apple Newsroom

Use iPad as a Home Hub

There are a few differences to consider when using the iPad for Homekit rather than a Google Assistant or Alexa-based smart display. Their displays show a more well-rounded source of information in the local area, while the iPad will depend on what devices are in your home. You'll be able to see your favorite scenes, accessories, and cameras easily, but without a temperature device, there's no weather, and there isn't an always a visible Siri query field either. Nevertheless, here are the simple steps you'll need to follow to turn your iPad into a smart display and home hub.

Step 1: Open the iPad.

Step 2: Click on Settings and click on your name.

Prime Day Focus
Roborock Prime Day shopping guide: Lots of options, which is right for you?
Is the Bluetti AC200L the best power station for camper vans?
These Razer Blade Prime Day deals really pack a punch [in gaming power]
Tiny projector, epic 4K cinema: Watch movies anywhere with LG CineBeam Q

Step 3: Click on iCloud. You should be signed into the iPad with the same Apple ID you're using with your HomeKit accessories.

Step 4: Scroll down to Home and verify that it's turned on. If you don't see Home in the Settings menu, you'll need to download it from the app store.

Step 5: Go back to Settings and click on Home. Click on Use this iPad as a Home Hub.

Step 6: Open the Home app on the iPad. The first screen will list all your favorite scenes and devices. You'll also be able to switch to specific rooms, scenes, and a discover page.

take control of ios ipados center homekit
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to add devices to HomeKit on the iPad

Other apps are available that either turn your iPad into a different sort of smart screen or can tap into Homekit, but using Home will give the best experience. Also, third-party hardware, such as a Hoobs system, can add other non-Homekit native devices into the Homekit ecosystem.

Step 1: Open the HomeKit app on the iPad. Click the blue Add Appliance button.

Step 2: Click on New appliance.

Step 3: Log in to your Home Connect account.

Step 4: Add your HomeKit devices.

How to turn off Guided Access on the iPad

Guests in your home can also easily change device states using the iPad instead of relying on Siri unless you turn on Guide Access. This setting will allow you to lock the iPad to one screen with a passcode. Enabling this screen will make altering the states of connected devices faster for anyone in the home. It will also ensure that no one can access any other settings or apps on your iPad.

Step 1: Open Settings.

Step 2: Click on General > Guided Access.

Step 3: Click to activate the feature.

People who use their iPad as a Home hub might consider having it wall-mounted. Whether on a temporary wall-mount or a permanently embedded mount, you'll have to invest in a longer lightning cable (depending on the iPad model) to keep it powered on. Once the iPad is affixed to a wall, you'll have an always-on, Siri-powered HomeKit hub that can easily manipulate your home.

Are you interested in setting up your iPad like this if you're in the Apple ecosystem? Once you start going deep into HomeKit and its devices, having a smart display can ease setup and management of those products. Looking for more products to control with your Apple Home hub? Check out our guide to the best HomeKit devices.

Keyan Riddick
Keyan Riddick is a freelance writer based in the mountains on North Carolina. When he isn't writing you can find him behind…
The Skylight Cal Max is a 27-inch smart calendar that might replace your smart display
The Skylight Cal Max installed on a wall.

Skylight, a company responsible for a variety of popular smart frames, is gearing up to launch the Cal Max -- a smart calendar that's a simplified version of a traditional smart display. You won't be watching Netflix on the massive 27-inch screen or tinkering with dozens of different apps, as it's aimed at providing families with a streamlined way to access their calendars, chores, meal planning, and photo albums without any of the clutter found on traditional smart displays.

The Cal Max is designed to help organize your home without introducing any unwanted distractions. You won't find a massive lineup of supported apps (as you typically see on smart displays). Instead, you can seamlessly sync your data from Google Calendar, Outlook, Apple Calendar, Cozi, and Yahoo, allowing family members to automatically push all their activities to the Cal Max for easy planning. It also doubles as a smart frame, letting you view photos sent by members of your family.

Read more
Kohler reveals luxurious smart home products that turn your bathroom into a spa
The Kohler Anthem+ on a white table.

Kohler showed off a bevy of new products at CES 2024, including a luxurious lineup of new smart home gadgets, all of which are designed to transform your bathroom into a "personal sanctuary." Along with updates to the Numi 2.0 smart toilet and high-end Stillness Bath, Kohler showed off a new fan, sink, and bidet, as well as smart valves and more.

The Anthem+ Digital Control was one of the most intriguing items at the Kohler booth, as can power nearly all aspects of your bathroom from a single control panel. Via its touch display, it allows you to control water, light, sound, and steam. All told, it can connect to 12 water outlets to power a variety of sprayers, showerheads, and body sprays.

Read more
How to save money with your smart home this winter
The Google Nest Learning Thermostat in stainless steel.

Keeping your home warm and cozy during the winter is a challenge. Homes equipped with a fireplace benefit from a frugal heating option -- though there's no doubt they can be messy and time-consuming to clean. You can also ramp up your furnace, but that's a quick way to spend a fortune on your heating bill.

Instead, consider using smart home gadgets to save money and keep your house at a nice temperature until spring rolls around. If you need some help getting started, here are a few smart home gadgets that can help you make it through the cold, dark winter.
Invest in smart blinds

Read more