Insteon+ provides tools for navigating through the hierarchy. From the Zones page (one level down from Home), you'll see some navigation icons at the top of the screen. This navigation bar also appears on Room pages, individual Zone pages and the All Devices page. The screenshot below shows the All Devices page with the navigation icons across the top of the screen. Highlighted in red is the Dashboard icon. Highlighted in green is the search icon (obviously). The Menu icon, highlighted in blue takes you to the Configure your Home screen. Here you can edit Devices, Rooms, Zones, Schedules and Scenes.
Insteon Navigation showing Dashboard (red), Search (green) and Configure Your Home (blue)
The composite screenshot below shows the Dashboard (left) Search (center) and Configure you Home (right) submenus. The Dashboard is fully editable, and you can configure which items you see and which one are suppressed. The Dashboard gives you a quick summary including a listing of which devices are on.
Dashboard (left) Search (center) and Configure you Home (right) submenus
In the Search screen, I've shown 2 scenarios. At the top of the screen, I tried to search for the scene that I created earlier - 5 O'Clock Somewhere. This shows that the search works only across Devices, Rooms and Zones. You can't search for scenes or schedules. The bottom image shows searching for "First" and the results turned up First floor under zones.
From the Configure Your Home screen you can edit virtually anything. Editing includes deleting Devices, Zones, Rooms, Schedules and Scenes.
One of the promises of HomeKit is that you'll be able to use Siri to control your jome using only your voice. And, indeed, you can.... sort of. The image below, taken from the Insteon Hub Pro instruction manual, shows the command sturcture Siri uses. As you can see, the vocabulary is fairly limited. And, as noted, some of the examples shown are for devices that haven't yet been implemented in Insteon+.
Insteon + Siri commands
To use Siri to control your Insteon/HomeKit devices, you just double tap the button on your iPhone, say the action you want to perform, the Device or Scene and optionally, the location. You can also skip the Device/Scene step and say, for example, "Turn off First Floor". The composite screenshot below shows, starting from the top down, controlling the entire home, a Zone, a Room, and a Device. It also shows several tests for dimming various devices or locations.
Insteon+ collection of Siri tests
For the most part Siri successfully executed the commands issued. However, there were some instances when Siri reported back that it had dimmed both bulbs when I directed it to dim only a Device or a room with a single bulb. I also had some frustration using Siri.
Probably the biggest problem I had was Siri misinterpreting the command Dim. Since Dim is such a major command, I would have thought Siri could nail it every time. But it didn't. Sometimes, the response from Siri was "Which Jim?" followed by a list all of the Jims from my contact list. Another time, Siri said it couldn't edit a specific "Jim" contact because the contact was synchronized from Exchange.
The web is full of "Epic Siri fails". I'm not sure that Siri's shortcomings with controlling Insteon devices rise to the level of epic, but some of them were amusing. The screenshot below shows Siri's reponse when I tried to "Jim (sic) lamp dimmer to 50%".
Insteon+ HomeKit - Siri had trouble with the word "Dim"
I've also included a short gallery of "Jim" Siri fails below. Once out of frustration, I asked Siri "why can't you understand the word dim". The fourth slide shows Siri's reply. In fairness, Siri does have a "tap to edit" feature, so you could change Jim back to Dim using the keyboard, but on an iPhone, that's a bit difficult. It also somewhat negates the advantage of using voice for control - at least for that command. Of course, Siri might like your pronunciation of "Dim" better than mine. Perhaps the promised Siri improvements in iOS 9 will make Siri's recognition and interpretation more accurate.
As noted in the opening, this review is as much about HomeKit as it is Insteon's Hub Pro. Since we couldn't get our hands on any pure HomeKit devices, using Insteon's Hub Pro and its proprietary protocol devices was the next best thing. Our thanks to Insteon for providing one of the first group of HomeKit enabled Hubs for this review.
HomeKit faces several hurdles that competing Home Automation systems don't. First, it's iOS only, so that eliminates a huge market segment. Second, we were a bit hampered in the review by the lack of an iPad app. But the iPhone app, once found, ran on the iPad well enough to provide a good feel for working with HomeKit.
Third, if you want remote access to your HomeKit system, you'll need to make an additional purchase of an Apple TV (3rd generation or later with software version 7.0 or later according to this Apple Support doc). While you can buy a refurbed 3rd Gen Apple TV from Apple for $59, it's an additional expense to incur as well as an additional hassle to set up. Most of the other Smart Home products I've reviewed have remote access baked right into them and setup is part of the initial configuration.
Like all other Smart Home devices with the exception of Belkin's WeMo, the Insteon Hub Pro requires an internet connection to work, even locally. When I pulled the internet connection for my usual test, I lost the ability to control anything connected to the Hub Pro.
Insteon's Hub and devices were easy to set up and configure. But I had to adjust to the Insteon+ app's HomeKit scheduling method. Most HA systems allow scheduling devices directly. With HomeKit, you schedule Scenes that can contain one or more devices - regardless of where the devices are assigned in the Home/Zone/Room hierarchy. Scheduling features, as pointed out above, need some additional work.
I encountered a disturbing issue that popped us just as I was wrapping up the review. While I shut down all devices last evening using Siri and my "Turn off home" command, this morning I was unable to connect and control any devices. In fairness, we had an electrical storm last night and my power fluctuated briefly.
After trying less drastic measures, Insteon instructed me to do a factory reset. That solved the problem, but I had to re-create everything: Zones, Rooms, Scenes, Schedules and Devices. It would be nice if a future release supported saving a configuration file - much like you can do with most consumer routers. Hell, since the Hub is internet connected anyway, I should have been able to restore my configuration from Insteon's cloud. My setup was small enough that the reset was a minor inconvenience. With a larger setup, I would really have been an unhappy camper.
In the end, HomeKit's is unlikely to rock the Smart Home / Home Automation world based on features, at least not in its present form. Other systems have more features (programmable dimming ramp rates, sunrise / sunset schedules, geofencing, etc.) and have remote access supported in the base product. And Amazon's Echo has already stolen the thunder from one of HomeKit's signature features—Siri voice control. Echo already supports Belkin WeMo switches, Philips Hue lights and Wink-compatible lighting products from GE, Leviton, and Lutron, albeit at a significant $180 price.
HomeKit's biggest asset is Apple's ability to attract companies to the product ecosystems it establishes. In a world of frustrated Smart Home product buyers wandering alone in the world trying to figure out what works with what, one system to rule them all looks mighty attractive. At least owners of HA systems built with Insteon's deep catalog of products now have a bridge to Apple's brave new HomeKit world.