Homekit and SmartThings: The Latest Discussion

My expectation is that there won’t really be a HomeKit system with enough pieces to be worth evaluating until the summer of 2016. I do expect to use it for some things then. There are just very few devices that work with it right now.

The new Phillips hue HomeKit bridge is interesting, and I probably will buy one in the next month or two. The HomeKit/Apple Watch integration is much better with the watchOS 2.0 release, and I can imagine situations when voice control of some of my lights from the watch could be useful.

I love the echo, and use it all the time, but the watch would give me more options. And I always like options. :sunglasses:

But I’m not rushing out to buy any HomeKit gear right now. I’ll wait until there are more options to choose from, and more reviews about how everything is working, including geopresence.

I struggled with Geopresence for about eight months. Very difficult to get it right at my house. It’s one of those things it works great for some people, and not at all for others, just depending on local issues, including where the nearest cell tower is.

Ultimately I did get a very reliable system, but I mixed in some I beacons to do that. And it was still a trial and error set up process to get the ranges right.

If you interested in any of that, the following topic (this is a clickable link) describes my set up:

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I’m struggling between almost perfect reliability with a wired system ( my family favors this ) with no geofencing vs the ability to make changes on the fly with our current system ( which I favor ) and have the geofence. To me, automation should run in the background and we shouldn’t have to think about it. We are building a house and it will be ready in February. I have looked at Control4, savant, homeseer and others seemingly more reliable systems to appeal to the family. I guess I can just pre-wire for now and then make the decision later. Thanks for the respond @JDRoberts!

If you can afford control4, it’s a very stable and reliable system. Just expensive.

I agree. Seems silly to pay that when I have had this system. It also seems weird that I need a technician to make any changes. I understand why they do it but it is very nice to be able to make changes on the fly from my phone.

I have a friend who is a Lutron dealer in Scottsdale / Phoenix, and a very knowledgable fellow. He told me recently that he sees a lot of people wanting to replace Control 4 systems, and move to something else. The inflexibility of the system is the main reason, the fact that you have to have a technician make any changes you want.

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No question, if you buy into control 4, you’re paying them a lot of money forever. For a lot of things you could do yourself, but they don’t let you, because that’s their business model. And you’re not going to mix-and-match pieces from other systems with it.

It’s still very stable and reliable. If I won the lottery, I’d definitely be looking at it as a candidate for a lot of core automation features. But it’s not in my price range and unlikely to ever be.:wink:

What my friend said is that when people buy a house that has Control 4 in it, that’s when they want it taken out. They were never invested in it, and don’t want the hassle. They bought a house with a nuisance in it that has no current value to them. It’s different when you build, remodel, or buy new, and you’re willing to put out those big bucks, than when you purchase somebody else’s questionable decision. If you invest $50,000 or $100,000 in a Control 4 system, when you go to sell the house it has no value to the buyer, and you won’t get that investment back.

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There are too many choices out there. It is very confusing. Now I found a company called Clare Controls here in Florida. Too many choices!!

Yep. My understanding, admittedly limited, is that security systems often do help sell the house. Even if the people end up not liking them later. And simple automatic lights that have regular switches but also turn on when the closet door opens help sell a house. (Lutron typically shows well.) And anything that automates the pool or the yard. But most other things become a distraction, because they’re just too personalized.

One of my friends says “home security is a package, home automation is a process.” :sunglasses:

I noticed the following in a control4 ad this week and it cracked me up:

Program your golf simulation room to double as a home theater.

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Yeah, Control4 is NOT a DIY solution, nor should be considered cheap. Reliable and stable, yes. Local processing only, yup.

Apples and Oranges…

Control4 is marketed to dealers. Dealers market it to people who want to pay big money to automate AV equipment, lights, and many more.

However, developing for Control4 is open, its based on LUA, and is 100X more robust as a platform then ST is. I’ve been developing drivers for Control4 for about 6 years now and find it an amazing platform.

If Control4 ever offered a low end controller and composer pro for the DIY market, and opened up their zigbee support to be HA compliant devices (right now you can only connect directly Zigbee devices that have the C4 large network cluster support) then most of these low end DIY solutions would be done.

But that isn’t going to happen. Ever. (See what I did there… I made an absolute, so it could happen now :smile: )

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Pretty cool app that includes voice commands for Apple watch (not via Siri, obviously). (And a bunch of other useful things.)

Man that is a sexy app. I cant wait to try this. I have the watch and a handful of Hue bulbs just need a Philips hub and a few beacons. I feel a little sad as this is my first step away from SmartThings not sure I can do it!

I’ve been using Beecon+ as a beacon receiving station app for a few months. I really like it. (Most of the voice sexiness is baked into HomeKit, but they use it well, and their IBeacon management is top notch.)

Most other app designers, including Insteon and Lutron, tried to make their watch apps visual, which has its place, but the BeaconSandwich guys really got that most home automation watch interactions are likely to be quick voice. But you’ll need a different watch app to view a camera feed.

Beecon+ works well with SmartThings as well, using the IFTTT Maker channel as a go between. It’s what I use for geofencing so I can limit one detection area to the length of my front door wheelchair ramp.

The main issue with heavy beacon use is always the battery drain on the receiving station device. But I’m really happy with my setup now.

Detailed discussion of IBeacon use with SmartThings in the following topic:

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I heard news from CEDIA that Savant is the first of the “big players” to market a DIY system. $499 at Best Buy.

iBeacon’s are pretty cheap now a-days; you can get a USB-powered one, or battery powered, for 20-30$ – it really should be added into ST for the use of instant presence/arrivals/unlocking-doors, at the very least (it gets more complicated, and you need to get a bunch of beacons, if you actually want to get “micro”-locations to work (detecting what room of the house you’re in, etc.))

And yeah I love Beecon+, the Apple watch integration is great (well really the entire app is pretty great, to be honest). Even if you don’t have any actual iBeacons the App is still great for it’s Apple watch integration and simple, but powerful/speedy, layout of the app to control whatever you want via built in integration (like HUE), and whatever else via IFTTT. You can actually even use GPS in place of Beacons, or not use location services at all and just trigger things manually in the app/today widget/watch.

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JD, do you know if beacon+ will work with just the watch? I keep my iPhone at my desk almost all the time now and walk around the house with just the watch on. If I have to carry the phone around to receive the Beacon’s signal then this is a no go for me.

Like I said, Never, ever going to happen. Period. End of Story. (end sarcasm here) Seriously, though they chose CEDIA of all places to announce a DIY solution. Wow… Savant was the low end of the high end anyway. Pure survival play there, surprised they didn’t bid on Wink.

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Their super remote looks like the Harmony Elite.

The entire system looks like a high end Harmony. I wanted to see value in this but don’t.