Android Widget

(Chaosrain) #1

I’ve been using SmartThings for a few months now. I think that many users would agree that one of the critical components of any Home Automation System is “spousal usability.” To that end, I have had fairly good success with my wife adopting our SmartThings setup. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we can turn on or off anything at the switch and override the automation to “go analog.”

One area that really frustrates her is the fact that you have to open the app, navigate to Hello, Home and then issue a command from there (because she finds the Hello, Home scenes much easier to use than either the Things interface or the Dashboard). It would be awesome to have either a series of widgets which could either run like the Things Tiles or Hello, Home commands.

The whole system wouldn’t seem “hidden” within an app if you could simply unlock your phone, mash your finger on a widget and get an instant response from SmartThings.

I know that the Android App takes a back seat to the iOS one and iOS simply doesn’t do widgets, but for those of us who have not gone the way of the iPhone, this would be a significant UI improvement!

(Ben Edwards) #2

We’ve got Widgets on the backlog but it is more complex than it appears. One way to alleviate that someone is to get one of the remotes with buttons on it. We just got the Aeon Labs Minimote and it is awesome for the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). That particular device has 4 buttons but because you can long press as well as single press you can actually have it do/control 8 things. We have ours set to a few Hello, Home phrases, outside lights, Sonos, and even a Siren for “panic mode”.

(Ben Edwards) #3

Also - to address this sentiment - this isn’t true. We have the same size team for each and looking to grow the Android team ASAP. Android just takes longer to develop for, even with the “proof of concept” work done for iOS. There are so many more device/operating system combos and testing and development just takes longer. We are just as committed to each platform (and more).

(Chaosrain) #4

While the Aeon Labs Minimote provides a physical connection to my hub, part of the WAF factor in my household involves staying within a budget. Another $60 for a device is a non-starter at this point. From a widget perspective, I’d take something as basic as a single 1x1 Hello, Home tile. Having the power of even a single Hello, Home command from the Home Screen of my device would be fantastic.

I do understand the challenges of app development, but as an example, there’s an app in the Play Store called Hue Pro which manages activites on a Philips Hue Hub. It comes with a 2x1 widget that lets you control 4 presets, a 4x1 widget that lets you control 8 presets, a 1x1 widget that toggles lights and a 2x1 widget that works as a toggle and brightness control. If a free app provider can include 4 widgets, it should be possible for SmartThings to offer a 1x1 Hello, Home widget without breaking the bank.

(Chrisb) #5


One solution that I use is to setup endpoints and then create tasker tasks that hit those endpoints. There’s some good tutorials somewhere on the site. Unfortunately my link got broken with the forum changes… maybe @Ben knows were it is?

Anyway, both my kids have an android tablet and a number of Things in their rooms (Switches and outlets). I setup a task for each device and then created widgets for those tasks. This way they have have control of their things without me needing to give them full access to everything… cause anyone with more than one kids knows how that would end up… turning each others lights and/or radios or whatever. Don’t need that fight! :smile:

Another option is to get yourself and Ubi. Then you don’t even need the phone! Just use voice commands. (The Ubi is also nice for voice announcements from SmartThings… a bit cumbersome to setup currently, but a cool feature once you get it going.)

(Ben Edwards) #6

It is too expensive for what it is. On Amazon it is $45 but still expensive.

(Kevin Tierney) #7

@chaosrain With Android, Tasker is the way to go. Tasker has some basic widget support, or you can use something like Zooper or Minimalistic Text to have fancier widgets.

There are some good tutorials on tasker here –

Good community for tasker help –

Go to this site (you’ll need to create a developer account if you havent already) to set up the endpoints

Once there you’ll authorize the app and then select which switches you want to control. After you have authroized the app, you will be taken to your personal url with all the switches with on,off, and toggle options. Make sure you save the URL for future use. Each individual button has its own url and you can call an http get on that url and it will send the effective command.

(George) #8

Beg to differ on your platform priorities.
If ios is always released weeks ahead, android is taking a backseat. Our perspective does matter.
But, that doesn’t yet address the form factor, phone vs. Tablet or other yet device capabilities.
Use Worklight. One team. Big return for you and us. See Capital One.

(Tim Slagle) #9

Been told many times by support that Android issues are not a priority. If you want to address the sentiment of Android being left behind then your support team should not continually tell me that it’s not a priority.

If you want to address this issue and bolster belief in android support you can’t have them be two separate things. If a iOS update is ready but the android equivalent is not then you wait to release iOS until the Android version is ready.

If you have 2 broken wheels on your car you can’t just replace one of them…

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #10

Agree that Tasker is the way to go on Android. It provides a level of input and conditional control that is not possible on any other mobile platform.

SmartThings team should take a look at building a plug-in for Tasker. While I wouldn’t describe this as trivial, it’s a relatively simple process that does not involve any of the interface considerations that adds complexity to Android development.

The value this adds to an app like SmartThings is significant when compared to the dev time involved, and would go a long way to underscore that this is an open and forward looking platform.

Short of this, even SmartThings having the ability to accept “intents” sent from Tasker would go a long way in allowing Android users to expand on making SmartThings smarter.

For instance, Tasker can act on notifications from any app on the device and execute a command. I have a number of Tasks designed to set multiple states on my phone, and sending commands to my HA server; adding control of SmartThings and triggering SmartApps would be serious icing on the cake.

(Timothy O Connor) #11

Yes I agree, widget capabilities are imperative. I think it becomes quickly clear to anyone using these sort of systems that automation is the primary major benefit, and for those tasks that can’t be automated users need to be able to hit specific configurations nearly instantaneously both for WAF, and just general ease. At the moment, wading through multiple menus inside an app isn’t cutting it, because in many cases it’s more time consuming and difficult than just getting up and manually flicking some switches.

(M203) #12

One can use Autoremote (Android app) to send messages triggered by smartthing sensors. Example, If one wants to display when last the mailbox was opened one can modify the notify me when app to instead of sending push, do a http post. Then use the autoremote web url and add a message to be used on the recieving end by Tasker. Once there one can for example have a zooper widget displaying last time multi sensor triggered on the mailbox.

(Justin Wurth) #13

Is there any update on the widgets? This is greatly needed. I know there are alternatives out there such as pushbullet and Tasker, but this is just not add good as a widget and the cm 11 nook color really needs this functionality. Do I need to mention WAF?

(Eric) #14

They really don’t seem to care about Android support. I recently switched from iOS to Android and all I have had is issues. Tons of different issues. It really is frustrating.

(Ben Edwards) #15

We have more Android developers than iOS ones and we are owned by the largest maker of Android devices. I think we care.

(Chaosrain) #16

@Ben I think that the community is inferring from the fact that indie apps created by lone developers leverage widgets and SmartThings does not. If a lone developer can implement widget support and the large team at SmartThings cannot, the lack of support must be intentional.

Nothing the SmartThings team has done has affected the community’s confidence in your development team’s abilities…which is a good thing. The challenge comes as a result of the fact that the community believes that the SmartThings development team has the skillset to implement a feature and that feature never arrives.

Additionally, while the platform is open, the SmartThings development team plans are a huge black box. The community doesn’t know what is coming, what will change and when. While it is a balancing act to provide insight into development plans while maintaining timeline flexibility for your Project Managers, it’s possible to categorize projects in ways that allow visibility:

Coming Soon - Projects in final testing which will be deployed in the next 3 months.
Pending - Projects in development for which no ETA is available but will deployed at some point.
Under Consideration - Projects which have been proposed by the community or internally which show significant promise.
Wish List - Projects for which the internal SmartThings team has not dedicated any resources, but could become part of development plans after other projects are completed.

Ultimately, you can’t take the attitude you did in the previous post “I think we care” and then have little to nothing to show for it. Don’t just open the platform, open your communications and your plans. To say that you care, then to expect your user community to “wait and see” about how much you care while suffering through a poor experience and limited visibility into future plans is to miss the entire point.

Currently, SmartThings plan to enable widget support is to have an end user write a tutorial on creating EndPoints, then another end user to write a tutorial to show how to leverage these EndPoints with Tasker, then have the Tasker community’s team write a tutorial to show how to deploy Widgets. Seriously? At the very least, it’s entirely possible for SmartThings to auto-generate EndPoints when new Things, Apps, and Hello Home phrases are added with the expectation that an advanced end user may want to leverage these EndPoints.

Ultimately, there are many ways to facilitate widget support. Checking in to the forums every few weeks to post an emotional defense to a reasonable perception by your customers indicates how tone-deaf your organization is becoming. Fortunately, you’ve recently been bought by a company who can teach you how to be experts in being tone-deaf to your customer’s needs. Under their expert guidance, I expect SmartThings to implement a variety of “features” that the user community neither needs nor wants which work intermittently and only serve to confuse the platform. See: Magazine View, Air Gesture, Smart Scroll, etc.

(Chaosrain) #17

How can I get a tutorial on how to use endpoints? Both you and the team at SmartThings keep pointing forum users to dead threads and deleted forum posts. After hunting for a while on the site, I have found a variety of tutorials that effectively tell me how do things in external apps, but not how to implement endpoints because the links to those guides have been deleted.

It’s almost as if Oauth and Endpoint threads have been systematically deleted…

(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #18

Careful about putting a lot of effort in to using endpoints. I have 4 different devices that use 17 of them… until yesterday, when their token(s) all became invalid. It will take me the better part of a day to assign newly created tokens to all of those devices.

I am not certain what caused this, but am trying to find out. I am growing tired of the lack of robustness that exists with my SmartThings!

(Ben Edwards) #19

TLDR; Kidding.

A few points…

We are pretty open with our plans but much of the sharing occurs on the Developer Discussion calls or in individual forum threads. We will do better about laying out high level vision either here or on the blog (or both).

People get so riled about features like the Android widget because, look, they are so easy, would only take a developer a day to implement, you have so many developers, but the thing to consider is how that feature (and others) fall in the overall priority being set. You can tell us that it is high but we may have 50 or a hundred features and bug fixes prioritized higher from feedback from dozens or more people.

You may say this goes back to your point on the roadmap being a black box. You may not be entirely wrong but we do try to share. I think a box with tinted windows is more accurate, however.

(Justin Wurth) #20

I would bet if this got put to a vote or poll, Widgets would probably be THE highest request. Just look at the number of custom solutions (android dashboard, real time widgets, rest api end point usage) that have been stood up because they are not available. All of these things do not work as well as native widgets, and would be quickly replaced… hey then the developer community could concentrate on other apps/integration.