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IFTTT

The second and perhaps more important reason for purchasing a WeMO switch is that you want to turn devices on or off using schedules that you define. We've already seen the built-in method of setting up these rules. But WeMo products also support IFTTT (If This Then That). IFTTT allows you to set up simple rules or "recipes" as they are called on IFTTT's web site. A recipe determines the action taken when a specific trigger occurs.

To use IFTTT, you need to create an account. Don't worry, it's free. From within the main "More" menu, there's an option to "Connect to IFTTT". When you click on that menu, you generate a registration key that's valid for only 30 minutes. Within 30 minutes, you can register your WeMo device with IFTTT. Thereafter, your WeMo device is connected to IFTTT.

I created several different rules that would send an email to me if my Insight either turned on or off. The rules worked, and I received email almost instantly that confirmed the change of state.

The image below shows the different triggers that can be used in conjunction with your Insight. For each recipe, you could send an email or post to Facebook (I'm not sure why you'd do that) when the trigger condition is met.

IFTTT Trigger conditions for WeMo Insight

IFTTT Trigger conditions for WeMo Insight

Closing Thoughts

After a frustrating setup experience, I was ready to return the WeMo Insight to Staples. After uninstalling the apps from all platforms, rebooting my router and reinstalling the apps, the setup experience was better. Though my Nexus 7 didn't notify me of a firmware upgrade, the iPad app did. I upgraded the firmware, which seemed to improve things a bit. When it comes down to the final analysis, reviewing the WeMo Insight was like reviewing two products: An Android Product and an iOS product.

On the plus side, the iOS application seems much more mature and operated much more smoothly. Connections to the device, once configured, were fairly quick, and updating the rules happened fairly quickly, as well. Scheduled rules for on times, off times or intervals all executed as expected, and the state of the switch reported on the iPad matched the actual switch state, i.e. if the iPad reported the switch was on, the light was illuminated.

That's not to say that there's not room for improvement on the iOS app:

  • Though I only tried out a sunrise/sunset rule for one day, that schedule didn't execute - at least not when I expected it to execute. I guess I'd have to try it again and wait a full 24 hours to see if/when the rule executes.
  • Schedules don't synchronize with the schedules created on Android device.
  • It would be nice if the power meter gave you a running total of kWh usage by day and month to date. For tracking power, I'm more accustomed to the much more robust reporting of my Kill-o-Watt EZ meter.
  • An app designed for the iPad would be nice.

The Android application is a completely different story. I had numerous problems with the application. The most serious problem was that none of the rules that I created on either of my Android devices executed and performed the on or off action expected. Rules didn't synchronize with my other Android device or the iPad. About the only thing in the app that worked was the power button, which you could use to manually control the Insight and the power monitoring.

I thought that I was alone, but when I looked at the comments and ratings for the WeMo Insight on the Google Play store two words come to mind: Flamefest. Here's a small sample of the comments:

“This feels like a beta experience from a small startup company on Kickstarter, not an app from a large and established company!”

“Great idea, poor execution. Doesn’t get better with updates”

“Poor development. The programming for the Android app is pure crap.”

“App developed by a 2 year old. This app/hardware combo is the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever come across and Belkin should be embarrassed. Much of the UI is quite unintuitive”

“Still hangs a lot. App is nearly non functional”

"DO NOT BUY. WeMo is garbage
. The rules do not work."

For me, the jury is still out. I still have a couple of weeks left within the Staples return policy. The WeMo Insight works fairly well on my iPad, although since I have a cover with a Bluetooth Keyboard, I find it annoying to have to turn the iPad on its side to use it. But the rules I created work, and the IFTTT notifications arrive promptly in my email. That may be enough to convince me to keep it.

On the other hand, if I had only Android devices, I'd be returning it without hesitation. At some point in time, Belkin may get the Android app to work as well as the iOS app. But for now, you could probably find better things to do with your $60.

Important! Shortly after posting, we came across this Ars article describing security vulnerabilities that were patched in January, in version 3949 of of the WeMo firmware. So be sure you update your firmware!

2/26/14 Postscript: I returned the product. It started exhibiting erratic behavior and was starting to turn itself off/on rapidly at random times. IFTTT in one afternoon sent about 400 trigger messages. When the light started flashing when I was in the room, that sealed the WeMo Insight's fate.

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