There are plenty of smart light switches that work with Alexa, but the list is much shorter when it comes to light switches that essentially have an entire Amazon Echo built into them. We can now add the iDevices Instinct to a list that, to our knowledge, includes only one other product: The Ecobee Switch+.
Available now, the iDevices Instinct ($99.95) is a single-pole switch with dual far-field microphones, audio technology (including a microspeaker) from Soen Audio, an LED light ring that lights up when it hears the Alexa wake word, and a user-customizable night light.
At launch, you’ll be able to stream music from Amazon Music (and listen to books on Audible), but iDevices says it will offer additional music-streaming services in the future (Spotify would be a welcome addition). The switch also has motion and ambient light sensors onboard, although these will not be enabled at launch (they’ll be activated with a future firmware update).
In our review of the Ecobee Switch+ (which is also a single-pole switch), we found that device’s tiny speaker to be surprisingly loud, but its microphone was somewhat problematic—the switch sometimes had difficulty hearing our spoken requests. We’re intrigued by the presence of Soen Audio’s technology, since that company has specialized in small audio systems for thin form factors.
We’ll have a full review of the Instinct as soon as we get our hands on one, but we already know some of its limitations: It’s a single-pole switch, so it won’t work in situations where a light is controlled by more than one switch. And it’s strictly an on/off switch—you won’t be able to dim a light with it.
Now it’s possible that you’ll be able to put a dimmable smart bulb in a socket that’s controlled by the Instinct. If that works, you might be able to say something like “Alexa, turn the Instinct on,” and then say “Alexa, set the [smart bulb name] to 50 percent.” We’ll know more as soon as we can get our hands on one to review.
Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.