Should SmartThings be Called Unreliable Things?


(Timothy O Connor) #1

I’ve been biting my tongue for awhile here, but it just gets too frustrating after awhile. I always noticed glitchy behavior (at least once a week something weird would happen), but in the last month, my system has become completely unreliable, mode changes not firing correctly, mode changes firing but event handlers for assigned light not firing, event handlers for lights firing but lights not turning on. At least every other day, I noticed something extremely glitchy about the system and more often than not, the issue is not replicable. Tonight it just appears that the entire system is down for many people, with the hub stuck at a blue light.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this system. I waste more time fiddling with it and trying to get it to work consistently than I ever save from having a remote control and schedules for my lights. Right now it’s basically a step backwards from having regular mechanical switches; it makes my life harder, not easier. Can we ever expect to have a relatively reliable system and actually get a little value for the money we spent?


(Wheeler) #2

My ST’s seems to be working again- but I see your point. I tried to open my garage door the other night and it didn’t fire, then I got a notification at 4am that is was opening- going to have to remove my garage and entry door from the system. I think the cloud only option is too risky for such a service. Not only are you screwed if your internet connection goes down- but of their servers go down, everyone is screwed, i.e. tonight. And if someone gets into my ST’s account, uh oh. Id much rather have everything on my local network and punch some holes than rely completely on comcast and smartthings for my lights to work. I see the benefit for some services, but shouldn’t rely on the cloud for everything.

That being said- my take is this is an early adopter project and it will have glitches, but over time they will iron out and together we will have helped shaped the future of some really sweet stuff.


(Ajf) #3

Ditto Timothy.

I’ve mentioned in other threads that this, or ANY system for that matter needs to get the most basic of functions rock solid. IMO, that means at minimum the lighting and presence functions. I bought this system to replace a basic Home Settings controller which you can buy for less than $20. That controller has NEVER missed a single command to turn on lights in the 8 or so years I’ve owned it. And of course my wife and kids keep asking if I can go back to that old system.

I DON’T need a SONOS system to say “Good morning Sir, your coffee is brewing and I’ll switch to your favorite station” I DO need for the basics to be bullet proof first. Let’s learn to crawl before running SmartThings.


(Jim) #4

I have to agree. I really like Smartthings but I am getting really frustrated with scheduled actions not happening (see http://build.smartthings.com/forums/topic/scheduled-hello-home-changes-not-working/)

I was told by support there is a known issue with scheduled Hello,Home actions that is supposed to be fixed “Early this week at the latest”.

I find my self having to manually do everything which is not what home automation is!

Last night (after my schedules failed to fire for probably the 7th day in a row) I couldn’t use the app to do anything…

This-
“I DON’T need a SONOS system to say “Good morning Sir, your coffee is brewing and I’ll switch to your favorite station” I DO need for the basics to be bullet proof first. Let’s learn to crawl before running SmartThings.” - AJF


(Different Computers) #5

Ditto all the above. Today my wife dropped me at work, and when she returned home ST didn’t notice she was there. And I was also hit by the failure to change modes earlier this week when a schedule didn’t run for no reason I could determine.


(Mike T) #6

I also find it frustrating that presence is so unreliable. Often I’m at work, 20 miles away from home, only to discover ST still thinks I’m home. Which defeats all those door and motion sensors. I wish they would get these things fixed, but I also figure this is part of the price of being an early adopter. The technology is still young. I’m willing to live with the unreliability as a tradeoff for the convenience of setup (a nail in the wall and I had a motion sensor in place, far quicker and cheaper than the hardwired alternative). But I hope other purchasers are also walking into this with their eyes open.


(Ben Edwards) #7

We absolutely know that we need the basics of the system to be rock solid. We know each one of these incidents erodes your trust in us. All we can ask is that you stick with us. Here’s the response we are sending folks (including some of you) regarding the recent incidents.

======= start =======

First, we offer our apologies for the negative experiences, performance or otherwise, you’ve all had with SmartThings recently. We recognize it may provide little consolation, but our team could not take this, your trust and faith in what we’re doing more seriously, and is working around the clock to address the issues some of you are seeing. We have worked through a series of issues in the past week that have caused a subset of our customer’s to experience delayed or failed commands, and delayed or failed automation.

Without attempting to hide behind an overly technical answer, we have a cluster of servers called our device connection layer. They sit behind a load balancer, and in the past week we’ve seen situations where one or more of those individual servers becomes delayed or unresponsive. The SmartThings hubs connected to that server either stop communicating, or go into a state of constant re-registering while attempting to reconnect.

Unfortunately, there is not one cause of this issue, and therefore we are auditing through every possible scenario as our top focus. We cannot say we’ve fixed every possible cause at this point, but we can say we won’t rest until we do. We ask for your patience and support. Your faith in SmartThings and support for our vision for an open platform for the internet of things is not misplaced.

======= end =======

We know that your passion for what SmartThings CAN be is why you post here and elsewhere about the issues you’re having rather than just unplugging the hub and throwing it in a box. We are developing THE home automation platform for your passion. It is just something that has not been done before. There are a lot of moving parts and, despite our growth, we are still small. We will get there. There is nothing our tech team has ever encountered that they could not solve.

Ben


(Steve Frangadakis) #8

Ben, I appreciate the explanaition of why things may not be working. I too have been having problems with failed commands, to the point of having to enter into the same mode several times for all of the commands to eventually work. Thankfully I’ve never had an issue with my front door locking/unlocking at the wrong time, but it is frustrating when my switches don’t work when they should. I know this is new tech, and although I’ve already spent a lot of money on this system, I’m actually cool with glitches as long as I know there is progress being made (and in a timely manner).

-Steve


(Hokie Steve) #9

Ben, I share the frustrations everyone here is experiencing and I did receive the email after several days of issues and after prior contact with tech support about those issues. I don’t even want to know how much time I’ve spent adding/deleting modes, mode changes, apps, etc. It’s difficult not to go on a rant about the frustrations - we’ve trusted ST with many functions around our homes and that is not going well at this point.

However, my biggest beef is the lack of transparency of network status and the large amount of wasted time I’ve spent troubleshooting, only to find out the problem is in ST’s Cloud.

->I strongly urge you guys to at least get a status page up so when you are having ‘Connectivity’ issues, users can quickly and easily find that out along with some basic information about what is going on, instead of wasting their time monkeying with their ST hardware & apps.


(Jim) #10

Ben - I too appreciate your comments - I’m not giving up yet but I too think a status page is essential for cloud based platforms.


(esung) #11

Home automation still seems to be at the stage of home-brew computer club days of personal computer era. We need appleII and Macintosh for it to really take off from enthusiasts and geeks to general public.

I thought smartthings would be that Mac , but perhaps now it is somewhat like apple II. It has the spirit of ‘works out of the box’ mentality but still relies a lot on the users’ own resourcefulness to make it work the way they want them to. Hopefully this will change over time and smartthings could be ‘it just works’ solution for everyone someday but it may take some time.


(Ben Edwards) #12

Getting a status page up is a priority. Bank on it soon.


(Timothy O Connor) #13

Ben,

I have a number of additional suggestions. First, you might want to consider including some sort of bug report functionality in the app so that when something goes wrong, I can hit that button, type in a couple of sentences as a description, and it lands in one of your support queues for grouping/triage. Second, we need to know a list of steps we can take to get our system back to as clean or as steady of a state as possible; is there an order by which we should reboot the hub, close the mobile app, install/uninstall the smartapps, etc? Then we know if it’s our problem, or yours. Finally, I’m not sure what sort of testing frameworks or procedures you’ve implemented, but I get the feeling like your release processes or cycle is a little out of control. Your code roll outs need to be more cautious, and they should be continuously communicated so we, your customers, know what’s going on. If I know a major version just rolled out on your backend cloud, I’m going to be a little more understanding if things are glitchy over the next few days. Infact, many of us here work in technology and our general awareness of your code changes may actually help you isolate issues much quicker.

Re: the comment on early adoption, I agree that we all signed up for a product that is still a work in progress. That being said, we also all paid money for our setups and we should expect better than just a pretty raw alpha/beta experience.


(Gilbert Chan) #14

I too have been facing the same problems that many of you have experienced; however, this hasn’t deterred me from the system. Like many of you said, ST is still an early system and has seem some dramatic growths over the last year. We’re all early adopters here, and with that, there will be some pains.

This system isn’t for everybody, especially those that aren’t able to sit through a few bumps on the road while the system irons things out.

That said, for those who have the need to have the latest and greatest, and willing to go along for the ride, there’s nothing out there that compares to SmartThings. There’s a few systems that are coming out that have different approaches, but what makes ST special is its community and it’s vision of creating an eco system where everything talks to each other. This is a vision that is not easily accomplished without a bumps and glitches. ST has already shown that it has great capability (especially true if you started playing with the IDE and created a few things of your own) and time will only makes things more stable.

I agree that there may need to be some increase stability in some areas so that we can rely on it with greater confidence, but for me, it’s simply checking my app when I get to the office to make sure things triggered properly. For me that’s okay, for some it may not be. If not, there’s some simple wemo switches to hold you over until you’re ready to jump back on something a little more sophisticated.

Honestly, I have more problems with my zwave devices that I do with the ST platform, and I’m looking to replace these as soon as I get the disposable income to do so.

Also, try following their twitter. It’ll give you updates on new development and widespread issues: https://twitter.com/smartthings


(esung) #15

With all what I said above I do still enjoy ST experience very much. It’s just that it wasn’t as seamless as I imagined. So I wouldn’t recommend it to my non-tech nerd friend yet, but if I had to vote for any platform for most likely to be ‘home automation for the rest of us’ it would be smartthings.


(Dan) #16

I agree with OP. There was too much design effort on making the app cute and sales oriented and not enough time to make the system trustworthy. Early adoption is an unacceptable excuse for incomplete work.

I experienced this same pattern with the Lowes IRIS. And, like IRIS, the customer service reps were the best. But that is not enough. I suggest less time spent on superfluous features and cute feature names and more of an adult discipline applied to the core features. ST is not a toy or a video game and real people with real lives rely on it. That is a legitimate expectation since that is from the ST marketing materials and web ads.

In my view the clock is ticking.


(Ben Edwards) #17

We have now deployed this site for helping to quickly determine if there are platform issues (and it’s not just you).

http://status.smartthings.com

You can signup there to be updated as well.


(Andy) #18

That’s awesome @ben_edwards thank you.


(Gilbert Chan) #19

@ben_edwards Nice. That’ll be helpful.


(Hokie Steve) #20

@ben_edwards, thank you.