It's cool being able to control your home through an app, but sometimes you just want to keep it simple and flip a switch. That's about to become possible for people building out a smart home with products connected with Apple's HomeKit. iDevices is announcing a number of HomeKit products today that fully integrate with your home, including an in-wall light switch, an in-wall dimmer, and an in-wall power outlet.
In-wall products feel more like part of the home
It sounds a little crazy that until now you couldn't control smart home lights directly from a light switch. And it kind of is. Many smart home products have to remain permanently switched on in order to work: if there's power going to it, then you can turn it on and off from an app at will; if there's no power to it, then you're stuck until someone flips the built-in switch to "on." It's a ridiculous problem, but it's a real one, and things are going to stay messy for a while. At least for overhead lights, installing a smart power switch resolves the problem, letting you flip them on and off without destroying your ability to use an app.
The other result of having a built-in switch is feeling like your smart home products are much better integrated with your actual home, rather than as some neat products you grafted on after the fact. iDevices' in-wall power outlet addresses the same issue, allowing you to unscrew your existing outlet and replace it with a smart outlet so that connectivity is built right into the wall — no more putting a connected dongle on top of an existing outlet. More established smart home systems have, of course, offered tighter home integration like this for a while, but this is the first time it's come to Apple's year-old HomeKit system.
iDevices is also announcing a connected light socket, which lets you control individual lights through an app. You're probably better off just getting the connect switch, though, since the socket runs into the same problem — you can't properly control it with a standard light switch. On the, uh, more interesting side, the socket also has a built-in light. So you can put your light inside a light, if that's something you're into.