Smart Home Products: Apple’s SmartPlug Offers iOS Home Automation


Apple made some exciting new announcements for its iHome smart home products, at CES 2015. New smart devices, compatible designs for home automation, and Bluetooth speakers made the top of the list, so let’s take a look at what Apple is planning.

Smart Home Products: iHome SmartPlug

First up is the iHome SmartPlug, one of the primary smart home products announced by Apple at CES 2015. While other mainstream players have offered smart plugs of their own – notably Belkin – Apple is probably the largest smart home competitor to have such a product on the market. The premise remains simple. Plug this $40 device into a typical outlet, then use its plug for an appliance like a TV or lamp. This allows you to remotely control that device via your phone, turning it on or off as you want.

Apple is quick to mention that you can include several other SmartPlugs throughout your home or office and control them directly from your phone without any intervening hub required. This is not so different from what other plugs offer, but it is a boon to Apple fans who want to stick with tried and true iOS features when digging into home automation.

Keep in mind that the SmartPlug features a three-prong design, so three-prong wall plugs are a necessity for the primary model, the iSP5. The iSP6, interestingly, will add a USB connector to control more computer-oriented devices, and the iSP7 offers a remote control for additional control. Taken together, these three plugs offer a more advanced smart plug suite than other companies have been able to produce thus far – not doubt Apple’s intent.

Siri Controls

In addition to the SmartPlug and the associated iHome Control App (which, by the way, is also available on Android platforms, so it is not restricted entirely to Apple users), Apple has also announced Siri compatibility with the SmartPlugs. This means that you can tap on your phone, activate Siri, and use voice commands to control your various connected appliances as you want.

This also works via scenes that you can set up with the app. Scenes are basic smart home conditions that you can set with multiple devices working in concert. For example, you can set a scene that involves several SmartPlugs turning on all your front room lamps when you come home, and active them with a single Siri command. Scenes can also involve stereo speakers, TVs, and the many devices that have advanced compatibility with the iHome system.

Lots of New Compatibility

Speaking of compatibility, Apple also released a list of all the devices that are starting to be friendly with iHome products, and they are truly impressive. Since iOS is such a large platform, many developers are eager to make their devices compatible. With the right devices, you can set up scenes that manage your smart door locks, open or close garage doors, and set your thermostat (all at the same time, if you want).

So in addition to Apple’s direct product, we also have a number of devices that work with HomeKit, including iDevices products like Switch, Incipio devices like the Smart Power Strip, Chamberlain garage door openers, and a whole lot more. The takeaway here is that even if your favorite smart home device is currently compatible, give it a little time: It is likely coming.

New Bluetooth Speakers

Finally, Apple announced a number of different speakers, most of them Bluetooth-oriented, that are also HomeKit products are definitely a step beyond most of the devices we see from Apple. There’s a bar-oriented speaker called SoundFlask, for example, that is indeed shaped like a flash and comes in two different versions, a portable model and a model made for home bars.

There’s also a series of smart home products called Kineta that combine basic Bluetooth speaker capabilities with clock radios and products focused more on sound quality, such as the Noti-fi package. iHome has also come up with a few more Phaze color-changing speakers, as well as a few new entrants in the wearables market, including speakers you can hang from your belt or wear around your belt. You can check out more of the details if you are looking for a new speaker solution.