Is SmartThings falling behind?


#1

Amazon just announced a slew of new devices and features today to their Echo and Ring product lines. Among them are an update to the Echo Show that includes the hub capability of the Echo Plus and better integration with Ring security features.

It got me thinking. While I have really enjoyed my SmartThings since I got it 3 years ago, it seems that SmartThings isn’t evolving at the same pace that some of these other guys, like Amazon with Ring or Google with Nest are.

Now, I know that SmartThings is incredibly more powerful. Amazon’s “hub” doesn’t include Z-Wave capability, and Apple and Nest are somewhat closed boxes, and there is no real programming available for either. But for most people, does that matter? And what major improvements have we seen from SmartThings over the last 3 years (since I’ve been paying attention, at least).

If SmartThings is dependent on third-party integration that likely aren’t coming (e.g., Ring or Nest), are we users locked out of the best third-party devices?


(Keith Croshaw) #2

I’ve watched this platform slowly cruise down to coast ever since Samsung bought it. I know they’re gearing up for the new app switch-over but they’re doing it in such a stereo typically Samsung way that you could have called it years ago.

There’s no massive bankroll of new products being spit out by Sammy because they don’t have money invested here. Amazon put out a fishing line with the Alexa platform and liked the bites they got.

It is a good platform for DIYers though… but it’s stuck for sure.


(Bob Kerr) #3

Amazon is playing catch up. They just announced limited availability of local processing, something that SmartThings announced 3 years ago.

While there is always room for improvement, I would say, SmartThings is still a few years ahead of Amazon, Nest and HomeKit combined.


(Keith Croshaw) #4

Also I feel like Amazon is going for the Jetson’s house, where as SmartThings and other z-wave/zigbee platforms are just trying to make life more convenient.


#5

Different things work for different people. The three products you mention combined are vastly ahead of smartthings in terms of MFOP (maintenance free operating period), Simplicity of installation, and reliability.

SmartThings Has much greater power and versatility.

Some people prefer the first profile, others will prefer the second.


(jkp) #6

Have you looked at the products that support homekit recently?


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(Bob Kerr) #7

I did, I am using HomeKit, but Apple is light years away from SmartThings…


(Jimmy) #8

If I was SmartThings, the thing I’d be most worried about from today’s announcements are the AI improvements. Alexa Guard, Away Lights and “hunches”. These are all automations that seemingly don’t require any manual process to setup. Amazon learns your routines and confirms you want certain things done when you say goodnight, goodbye, etc. Automations that don’t require any manual setup are a huge win.


(Bob Kerr) #9

Machine learning algorithm is the future! The company that delivers a good model will rule the market for many years to come.


#10

I think this highlights the difference between SmartThings as a platform and the newer systems from Amazon, Google, and Apple. SmartThings is very powerful and can do a lot that those systems can’t do. The programmability is obviously untouched (it’s simply not possible on those others).

But those systems can do a lot MUCH easier than SmartThings, and therein lies the problem. It seems to me that we’re going to the point where the only people who will use SmartThings are those browsing these forums or are interested in getting into the IDE. If you’re only using the built-in features, why not use one of the other systems? But that’s not a large audience, at least in terms of sales volume. And SmartThings, despite Samsung’s planned commitment, may not be sustainable as the competition develops ways to make it easier and easier.

As one final small example, take Siri Shortcuts. Right on their phone, users can build and share pretty slick and powerful automations for Homekit devices. The only way to do that on SmartThings is webCoRE, and that’s not for most users.


(Benji) #11

No it’s not.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #12

What do you mean Samsung doesn’t have money invested?

They are spending, I believe I can reasonably presume, … $ billions on the SmartThings division.

Samsung isn’t “worried” about this, because they are already well underway developing the technology.

Bixby isn’t a project in someone’s garage in Seoul. It is a part of Samsung’s AI R&D.

Just because Amazon, Google, and Apple are delivering something sooner than Samsung, doesn’t mean that Samsung won’t deliver, and possibly better and more successful.

Take note at who is the leader in the smartphone market.


(Dan P Parker) #13

^ This. I think Amazon’s new lineup supports what I said back when they released the Echo Plus with built-in Zigbee. They’re not trying to compete with Smarthings, HomeKit, et al…but rather they’re targeting a different market. Namely, people who aren’t tech-savvy and can’t/don’t want to deal with what’s involved in making the aforementioned ecosystems work, but still want to avail themselves of some smarthome technology. What Amazon is offering is stuff that is not nearly as flexible, powerful or customizable as ST, but is far more non-techie-friendly in terms of both setup and use.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #14

So …

SmartThings has always “intended” to be both easy to use a powerful.

  • Isn’t such a combination possible?
  • For example, isn’t it feasible for Samsung to have an “easy mode” in the App (or even a separate App!), and a “pro mode”?

This isn’t uncommon in the App industry. Why can’t Samsung take this approach.

Or do you think SmartThings actually thinks that the App / Product / Platform is sufficiently easy as it is?


(Bob Kerr) #15

Because the built in features are not nearly as powerful (yet) as built in SmartThings features. People will get frustrated fast with lights turning on in the middle of the night if motion is active when using either Alexa routines or Homekit automations. Until Amazon, Homekit and Nest come up with “If This Then That but Not If”, they will just send customers to SmartThings.


#16

I gave up trying to figure out what Samsung’s plans for the SmartThings platform were about three years ago. :wink:

Apple has historically been driven obsessively from the top to create a coherent, consistent platform, and has largely succeeded.

Samsung has historically allowed many different divisions to develop many different versions of similar products, most of which were not interoperable, and some of which had the same name. :scream:

For at least 3 years They’ve had Bluetooth locks in one division, a zwave based security system in another division, And of course smartthings in yet another division, and none of them interact.

Nor do any of the three interact with their own smartwatch. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

In contrast, Apple provides an integrated experience, because that’s what their target market expects from them.

https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/homekit/overview/introduction/

Could Samsung do it differently? Sure. But it’s not the way they typically approach things. Historically they have been a have a heavily siloed company.


#17

I use a lot of HomeKit automations and don’t have any trouble restricting when they run.

We have one automation that turns the overhead light on that runs from 6 PM until 11 PM. And a second automation that turns the plug-in nightlight on that runs from 11 PM until 7 AM. I think most people can figure that out.

We also just use Hue motion sensors with hue lights and that has additional restriction options. We also like the Hue formulas a lot, and use quite a few of them.

It’s certainly not as powerful or as fancy as using smartthings, but it’s simple and reliable and works fine.


#18

I would even take this a step further and say that with the new app and not knowing the future of the IDE and device handlers Samsung might be alienating the very audience that has Stained it and work it in the platform


#19

You basically just described how Tasker is set up


(Bob Kerr) #20

Yeah, Hue Labs motion recipes are actually more powerful than Smart Lighting.