On Leaving SmartThings - An Essay

I researched before buying my first home automation hub. Through all the cost-benefit analysis, I went with the first-generation, publically available product. I quickly got the v1 hub to work, and was able to integrate my Hue kit along with many third-party sensors. I wired my garage with a Z-Wave controller in a test of DIY affordability. There was an occasional issue and the v1 application on iOS took some time to understand the GUI. Overall, the SmartThings Support team was always available and the quality was perfect.
I recommended the product to colleagues who were using Wink. They often complained of processing lag time, of which I had none with SmartThings. I was excited about the next generation. I was also able to integrate more products of different kinds with the help of the developer forum (still fantastic!).
Then v2 came out.
While my application’s dashboard was still functional, I was able to work around some gaps to add users (I can still do that because my dashboard is intact from V1). I can also still use my garage door functionality. My colleague who started with V2 cannot do either of those things.
V2 was a clear step backward. The concept of MVP (e.g. Agile development) should be incremental improvements and steps forward. V2 hardly meets “minimally viable” and it should hardly be considered a sellable “product.” There are no discernable, practical improvements from V1.
Then the bugs started and continued.
Since migrating to V2, I’ve had consistent downtime when I previously had none. I’ve had all my ZigBee-based devices lose their connection to the hub (taking out the battery and reinserting after two minutes solved). I’ve had multiple GE Link Bulbs lose their connections multiple times, and it has gotten worse since the end of October. Nothing has changed on my end.
I’ve argued with tech-support about some logic gaps (e.g. the initial removal of ‘light power allowance’ that ultimately was added back). I’ve also had to argue about “light turn on” not sending the “setlevel” command. That was ultimately corrected with a program update, but not until after multiple weeks of correspondence and repeated instances of “IT’S NOT WORKING!”
I’ve now had delays in processing that were never there. I—luckily—have more app functionality because my dashboard remains useful and intact. Had I lost my dashboard or the ability to add family members to the account, I would’ve returned v2 over a month ago.
Here is what SmartThings needs to do:
• Take ownership. Recognize that selling the product as it is described, at best, constitutes deception. Offer discounts to current users who have placed their faith in all that was advertised.
• Communicate. Many of us who are in the developer community or on this board are prepared to tinker. We understand “stuff happens” and coding takes time; however, at this point we need constant updates.
• Invest in support. I used to get a quick email reply from SmartThings Support, now there are multiple day-long delays. Given all the issues, SmartThings needs to prioritize this for its legions of unsatisfied customers.
• Reconsider the Dashboard. Bring that back. The functionality that was there in v1, while not perfect is more of a minimally viable product than the current iteration.
• Delay future product releases until more testing can be done. There’s a difference between MVP and a functionally limited device with many issues.
I hope to stay with SmartThings; however, it is becoming less likely given the issues, lack of communication, and overall slow resolution. I want to be passionate about this product again, and I wrote this because I hope the issues can be fixed.


8 posts were merged into an existing topic: Frustrated by the state of things