Although Siri seemed to have no trouble controlling HomeKit-enabled devices from multiple vendors, the individual apps from the vendors don't always work together very well. For example, none of the Insteon devices appear in the iHome App. The iHome Control app seems designed for the ISP5 SmartPlug. In the Insteon app, the iHome ISP5 did appear, but the app wasn't able to control it.
I wanted to better understand how the apps worked (or didn't work) together with rooms and zones, so I tried the following:
- I created a "Basement" zone using the Insteon app. The newly created Basement zone appeared in the iHome App.
- I created a "Laundry room" room in the iHome app, but couldn't add it to the Basement zone which was created with the Insteon app.
- In the Insteon app, I was able to add the Laundry Room, (created in iHome) to the Basement Zone.
- Returning to the iHome Control app, the Laundry room appeared in the Basement Zone
Little Love for Android
The iHome Control app for the Android platform is a significantly de-featured version of the iOS app. According to the ISP5 FAQs, the Android app lacks the ability to create/edit zones, rooms or scenes, which I verified. You are limited to turning the SmartPlug on or off and creating/editing rules. And don't even think about voice control. Siri, of course, is only for iOS.
The composite screenshot below shows most of the UI for the Android app. The landing page (left) is fairly spartan showing the device(s) at the top and navigation icons for Home, rules and settings. The center screen shows information about the device and rules. You can control the device and enable/disable rules on this page. The right screen shows the "Edit Rules" page.
iHome ISP5 Android landing page (left), info page (center) and rules page (right)
In the crowded market for smart plug / switch / outlet devices, the iHome ISP5, at around 40 bucks, is the least expensive you can buy from a brand-name maker. It works equally well from your local LAN or when you're away from home without requiring an Apple TV for remote access. It also passed our pull-the-internet-plug test, working just fine with only local Wi-Fi active. Finally, Siri voice control of both the ISP5 and devices connected via Insteon's HomeKit-enabled Hub worked surprisingly well.
But the ISP5 is also one of the least capable smart plugs, because it lacks the power monitoring features found on the competing D-Link and Belkin WeMo plugs, can't interact with IFTTT and can't be triggered by sensors.
Like virtually every other home automation system I've looked at, the ISP5 requires its own app. But its iOS app has the advantage of being able to control other HomeKit enabled devices, which is what Apple is counting on to build dominance in the Smart Home space. But HomeKit has a lot of catch-up to do.
It's true the Belkin WeMo, D-Link mydlink and SmartThings devices currently active in my condo talk to only their own kin. But each vendor's ecosystem includes not only smart switches / plugs / outlets, but also motion sensors, water sensors and smart LED bulbs. And devices in those ecosystems can work together, with sensors able to interact with switches and also be controlled by IFTTT.
If you've decided to cast your home automation lot with HomeKit, the iHome ISP5 SmartPlug is your only option right now for controlling AC powered devices and will be for a little longer. Despite the hype surrounding iDevices' Switch at CES 2015, you still can't buy it and there haven't been any availability updates since January. ConnectSense's Smart Outlet might be a better bet, if it holds to its currently posted September 2015 ship date. You can pre-order it now for $80, which gets you two controllable outlets, plus a 2.4A USB charging port.