One of the interesting things we’ve seen with HomeKit is how many small but established iOS accessory makers have chosen to branch out beyond their core business of speakers and cases and dip their feet into the home automation space that was once only the purview of the large home technology companies. The most recent example of this is PureGear, a company well known for its wide range of iPhone cases and screen protectors, which has now released its first electronic accessory in the form of the PureSwitch Wireless Smart Plug ($40), a HomeKit-enabled power outlet that can be used to control any appliance that plugs into a standard outlet.
Although we’ve seen a lot of wireless smart plugs in the HomeKit ecosystem, PureGear’s PureSwitch includes one feature that distinguishes it from the rest: a 2.1A USB charging port on its side that can be used to recharge your iPhone, iPad, or any other USB-compatible device. While including a USB port in an AC outlet isn’t a novel concept in and of itself, PureSwitch is only the second HomeKit-enabled smart outlet we’ve seen that offers this extra capability.
Beyond that, PureSwitch works like any of the other HomeKit smart plugs we’ve looked at — a category of HomeKit accessory that’s rapidly becoming commoditized. The outlet plugs into any standard North American wall socket, and acts as a remote switch for any connected accessory such as a light, fan, or other appliance like a coffee maker. Although PureGear provides its own iOS app for setting up the accessory, iOS 10 users can simply use Apple’s built-in Home app if they prefer, or really any other third-party HomeKit app of their choice; PureGear’s own app doesn’t add any specific benefits beyond its own interface, which some users may like, but it’s really just a matter of taste. In our own case, we use Apple’s Home app for basic daily routine control of accessories, and Elgato’s Eve app for setting up more advanced rules.
Setting up PureSwitch is also handled in the same way as any other HomeKit accessory, with your iPhone or iPad detecting the PureSwitch over Bluetooth LE, asking you for permission for it to join your device’s Wi-Fi network, and then asking you to scan in the HomeKit code found on the side of PureSwitch to add it into your HomeKit configuration. As with other smart outlets, you can designate each PureSwitch as controlling a light, fan, or outlet, which will affect the icon presented for it in the Home app as well as which types of Siri commands it responds to — for example, including or excluding it when you ask Siri to “turn off the lights.”
PureGear’s PureSwitch works exactly as you’d expect it to, and while it’s more or less on par with other HomeKit smart plugs we’ve looked at, it gets a slight edge due to the lower price and USB charging port — a feature that is otherwise found only on the dual-outlet ConnectSense. Although PureSwitch don’t provide the power consumption monitoring features of alternatives such as Elgato’s Eve Energy or iDevices’ Switch, the lower $40 price tag and USB port more than make up for that in our opinion, especially if you’re looking to equip your house with several of these. Of course, the real beauty of HomeKit is that you’re not stuck with products from one vendor — you can mix and match accessories from different makers to build the configuration that works best for your specific home, allowing you to use plugs that offer energy consumption monitoring and integrated night lights in those places where you specifically need them, and then use more basic outlets everywhere else. PureGear’s PureSwitch is that “everywhere else” option — a great and inexpensive entry-level choice for all of the most common uses throughout your home.
Company and Price
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 8.1 or later