iHome App Review: Half a HomeKit App

The best way to look at the iHome management app is as a necessary evil if you happen to have any iHome devices (primarily the iSP5 switch). If that is the case, you will need the iHome app to set up the switch and manage any firmware updates.

Beyond that, the app itself isn’t very useful as a HomeKit system manager.

iHome iOS App

The app is aware of your HomeKit rooms, zones, scenes and (to a limited extent) triggers. However, the only devices that appear in the app are power switching devices – it doesn’t recognize or display things like Hue lights, sensors, thermostats, etc.

iHome management app: device and room listings only show power control switches.

While the app ostensibly supports trigger and scene management, any scenes you have built in other apps that include non-switch devices will show those devices as a blank line in the scene editor. I would be very cautious about actually editing your scenes from within the iHome app as it is unclear what it will do with these non-switch devices.

For triggers, the iHome app supports basic time based HomeKit triggers and has support for Nest driven triggers. I don’t have a Nest device, so I wasn’t able to test or investigate the options for Nest integration, but for systems that use both HomeKit devices and Nest devices this feature might be appealing as it is the only manufacturer supported app I am aware of that would allow for integration between the two systems.

iHome Scenes and Triggers
iHome App Scenes and Trigger creation: As you can see, the app doesn’t display non-switch devices properly, with just blank rows for those devices in scenes you have created in other HomeKit apps.

The app also supports integration with the Wink platform, so you can add your iHome switches to your Wink setup either from within the iHome app, or from within the Wink app.

iHome Devices

The HomeKit compatible switches that iHome sells are nice, functional switches. At this time, the iSP5 is the only switch product available from iHome, but they have announced the iSP8 that will be released at some point this year. The iSP8 will also incorporate power consumption monitoring and tracking, and it will come with a physical remote control for the switch.

My main issue with the iHome iSP5 switches is that they don’t recover gracefully from network resets. Every time I reboot my router I’ve found that the iHome switches will disconnect from the router and won’t reconnect unless you power cycle the iHome switch manually, which typically means unplugging it and plugging it back in. Two of my switches are located behind the entertainment center bureau, so every time I need to reset these I have to pull the whole bureau out and reset them, which is a major pain.

That said, the switches have a nice form factor and are easy to set up. Relative to the other HomeKit switches I have tested to date they are generally a solid option.

Bottom Line

Once you use the iHome app to set up your iHome switches you won’t be using it again for any HomeKit system management, as it doesn’t support the majority of your HomeKit devices. I do recommend opening it up occasionally to check for firmware updates on the iHome switches, but if it wasn’t for that you could probably get away with deleting it from your phone after you set up the switches.

Welcome and HomeKit Dimmer Discussion

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First off, welcome to Life on Silicon, a blog and wiki site about SmartHome technology. On this site you will (eventually) find information about SmartHome tech in general, updates when new products are released and announced (especially products that are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology), reviews of SmartHome products and more.

I am also working on building out a wiki on the site that will contain information about SmartHome products outlined by category in a massive Product Guide for SmartHome tech. Eventually it may also incorporate other related content, such as lists of other SmartHome blogs and podcasts, how-to guides and more. For now the goal is to focus on the products though and get those covered thoroughly.

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