Review: iDevices Home Automation Products

2018 may be the year that home automation adoption rates take off. The number of HomeKit-enabled devices is rapidly growing among both established players and newcomers alike. One such company, iDevices, has continued to expand its product line by recently adding two types of switches and a wall power outlet that can be controlled autonomously. Let's take a look at each of these devices in detail.

Related: Smart Home for Renters: Best 8 Renter-Friendly Home Automation Gadgets

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Like other competing HomeKit-compliant electrical devices, iDevice offers its own free app that is optimized for controlling its family of home automation products. iDevice products can be accessed remotely as well as voice-activated via Siri. The advantage of using HomeKit is that these iDevice switches and outlet can be controlled within competing apps. For example, I was able to operate each of the iDevice products reviewed in this article with Elgato's Eve application. Likewise, I was able to access and control Elgato's Eve products using the iDevices Connected app. While the iDevices Connected app works adequately, I have grown accustomed to the user interface in Elgato's app. Thank you, Apple, for enforcing the HomeKit standard so that customers can choose whichever host app they prefer for interacting with their home automation products.

One of the most compelling features that iDevice products have over its Apple-centric competitors is cross-platform support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Android, and Apple iOS. Access from traditional desktops like Apple MacOS or Microsoft Windows does not appear to be currently supported, but this will soon change, at least for macOS, when Apple releases its upcoming Mojave update that includes a macOS port of the iOS Home app. For multi-OS mobile device households, investing in iDevice products may be a better solution if you want to access its home automation products using either Android or iOS.

The iDevices Dimmer Switch ($79.95) is a touch-enabled dimmer switch that works with any dimmable bulb. A single tap turns the connected light on or off while a double tap switches between minimum and maximum brightness. Pressing and holding on the switch will incrementally dim or brighten the bulb the longer the switch is held. All of these actions can be done within the HomeKit-compliant iOS apps as well as assign to Siri voice-controlled actions. Installing the switch takes about 15 minutes thanks to the walk-through video and step-by-step guide on the iDevice support website. Installation guides are available for the wall switch and outlet as well.

iDevices Wall Switch ($79.95) installs and works almost identically to the Dimmer Switch without the ability to dim and brighten lights connected to the switch. The Wall Switch is best used for simple on/off lighting, such as an indoor switch for a porch light or hallway. Installation takes about the same time as the Dimmer Switch.

The iDevices Wall Outlet ($89.95) is a power outlet replacement that automates electrical flow to devices connected to the outlet. Unlike competing power outlet HomeKit products that are bulky boxes that plug into existing outlets, the iDevices Wall Outlet is a self-contained assembly. As such, it is much more attractive and natural looking compared to the bulky external add-on alternatives. Each outlet can be independently activated and scheduled to turn on or off, making it at least twice as flexible as a standard wall outlet.  The sockets are also tamper resistant to help steer away curious youngsters curious to examine any exposed electric slots.

Installing any of these iDevices is easy assuming you are comfortable with safe electricity practices and terms like pole, load, and gang boxes. iDevices links to installation videos on YouTube for each product I reviewed in this article. Visit teh iDevices support page for more details. For those uncomfortable with self-wiring the devices, iDevices does offer professional installation services through HomeAdvisor. If you choose this option, prepared to spend a hefty $175 or more depending on the number of iDevices you have to deploy in your home. Also note that the iDevice products do not include the switch or outlet faceplate to cover over the wall opening, so if you don't already have a compatible faceplate with your existing switch, you will need to purchase these parts separately from a hardware/home improvement store. Once correctly installed, the middle purple LED will illuminate and the device will be ready for pairing.  

After tapping and holding the bottom lip of the designated switch for several seconds until the purple LED starts rapidly flashing blue, you are ready to enter or scan in the switch's HomeKit code into the iDevices Connected app. iDevices smartly placed this important code beneath the tab on the front of the switch (or on a slide-out tab for the Wall Outlet) instead of on the side or back of the component which will likely already be installed behind a secured wall plate before you get to the pairing step. Once the code is entered and accepted, the devices should be ready to be controlled from your iPhone or iPad and can be scheduled to turn on and off at whatever times are convenient.

Pros

  • Works with both Android and iOS devices
  • Easy installation, pairing and operation
  • Fully HomeKit-compliant

Cons

  • Electrical installation experience and tools required
  • Products do not include faceplate

Final Verdict

The iDevices family of switches and outlets offer a compelling alternative to the typically HomeKit-exclusive iOS home automation landscape via their Alexa, Google Assistant, and Android OS support. HomeKit codes are easily accessible on each device so you don't have to remove the assembly and worry about fussing with wiring in case you need to reference the code for re-pairing in the future. The power LED indicators on the front panels are also a nice touch and provide a quick visual operational feedback. If you are willing to spend a little extra time and effort up front, the iDevices products offer a more attractive and permanent installation approach compared to the competition.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.