I am approaching 6 years with SmartThings, but it is quite likely I will not get to 7. I feel let down, ignored and angry at a company that initially made many of my home automation dreams come true. My hunger for more was mostly in line with their promises, but at this point it seems that is all they are, or their timelines are simply insanely long. I am tired of waiting for the next big step (local processing, decent Android app, web browser control) from ST. This week I finally gave in and purchased a Hubitat Elevation hub and have begun analyzing the best approach to finally get rid of the slow and unreliable cloud!
It is slow! Way too slow! For example, many automations involving lights need to be nearly instantaneous. A second or two delay is simply unacceptable. How many times have you walked half way in a room and the motion-controlled light is still off? Even simply syncing two lights takes forever so when I turn on my entrance light, I am half way into the darkness of my hall before the lights start to turn on. The selection of local devices is too restrictive and often they only expose the bare minimum. What is the point of buying fancy automation gear if most features are unavailable if you want local performance?
While I can accept some automations not to work if the cloud, or internet connectivity, is down, my current experience is that the entire house stops working. It seems like a trivial issue until it happens and you realize how dependent and addicted to it you have become. Sometimes it is not a matter of pressing the light switch with your finger… sometimes you rely on automation to cut off water before a freeze in a remote location, or more mundane things like lights and laser guide to park in my cramped garage fail to work when needed and I risk damaging the car or have to get out to ensure I am in the right spot. Why? We want and need LOCAL CONTROL, not the cloud BS.
App (Android in my case):
The old app was pretty bad… clearly made for small numbers of devices and with an outdated look. It was very slow to load devices, and required many clicks to get stuff done. I got round this by relying on a dozen Echos around the house, and increasing the number of things that ‘just happen’ so that I would not have to open the app. Along comes the new app… and things simply got worse.
I was recently in a beta for the new app. I thought it was going to result in a 2.0 (from 1.7 or so that we are at) but to great dismay it felt like they were twiddling with insignificant features rather than addressing the big usability issues. At the end of the beta it felt like the steps forward were worth a 0.0.1 revision increase, maybe less. I get it, the most common ST user has 15 devices (rumor has it) so ST appears to only care about those users. I have over 200 objects (be they C2C, virtual or physical) and literally despise having to use the new app. The promised support for custom handlers needed to get access to all features of the ‘fancy automation gear’ has yet to materialize and usability for large numbers of devices has gotten significantly worse. Why?
I do not know whether I classify as a ‘power user’ but I definitely feel unwelcomed as most of the original power users I learnt from in the ST forums over the years. You know where I found the vast majority of them? Hubitat Community forums!
ST – why are you alienating those who can drive innovation and adoption? People who push the boundaries and develop new code they graciously share with those of us who are unable or unwilling to program? You should listen to them and keep them close!
Sorry for the lengthy soap box rant, but I am ready to throw in the sponge at ST and to move on. We will see how things go with Hubitat. It might be a full-on replacement, or maybe it will just take over all the devices/automations where I need to get rid of the cloud to benefit from speed and reliability… If ST ever sees the light, and offers more comprehensive LOCAL control, who knows, I might come back or stick around longer if not fully migrated yet.