Smart App Woes


(Mr B) #1

I’ve waiting for a good while to post this since I understand completely that I’m an early adopter and there are bound to be problems, but still, I think I’m at the point where I’d like to bring up the issues I’m seeing with smart apps. I’m just not having much luck with them at all. In fact, many of the key things I “sold” my family on with this stuff just don’t work at the moment. In no particular order, here they are

  1. Garage Door Monitor. I was very excited about being able to be notified when my garage door is open. This has happened 6 or 7 times in the last year and other families on my block have had stuff stolen from their garages. Sooner or later that’s going to be me, at the rate that my door is left open. So I was delighted to see an app that addressed this problem. I installed it and despite testing here and there, i’ve yet to see it send me a text message at all. I’m all set with my button to close the garage when I do finally get an alert :slight_smile:

  2. Medicine Reminder - My son has a condition that requires medicine twice a day. It’s crucial for him and although we have not forgotten yet, eventually we will I’m sure. So again, imagine my delight when I saw the medicine reminder app. I installed an open closed sensor on the cabinet where the medicine is, and that works great. I see a log entry every time the door opens/closes. The app just doesn’t work though. I’ve yet to get any sort of reminder from it, despite various tests. Not helping matters is the lack of any sort of documentation. If I’m supposed to have opened the cabinet by (say) 7am, what is the period of time before hand that it considers the right time for me to have done it? 1 hour? 4 hours? If I open the cabinet 12 hours before, say 7PM, will it consider the job done for the next day?

  3. Severe Weather - I have several iPhone apps which alert me to NWS alerts for my zip code, so this is really easy for me to observe and see as working/not wokring. I have seen some push alerts from this app, and they were appropriate, but they are certainly not reliable and they aren’t all arriving like I would expect.

  4. Sunrise/Sunset - One of the big draws for the smart things stuff, for me personally, was the ability to have lights come on when I want them, yet not have them tied to motion sensors. I don’t want every neighbor hood animal turning on my lights. I want my lights to come on when a door opens, when my garage opens etc. And I want that to open happen at night, when it’s actually dark. I was not looking forward to having to adjust a setting for timed day/night mode a few times a year, so I was pretty excieted to see sunrise/sunset which works out when it should be dark. Genius. Except it’s just not reliable. After a reboot it’ll work a few times and then it’s done.

  5. Notify Me When - Push alerts when someone’s on my front porch. I wanted to have an idea when the mailman or UPS had dropped a package on my porch. I have seen push alerts form this but again it’s not reliable. It stops working within a day or two

  6. Garage Opener - This is the most reliable of the apps so far. It works about 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, it doesn’t seem to send the off command to the unit, or it does, but it does it 60 seconds later, long after I have already pressed the off button myself

As I said, I hate to complain, I know this is early days, but the potential is so exciting and so it leaves me bitterly disappointed when it doesn’t work. I still tell everyone I know what it should be doing, and I tend to omit the fact that most of what I really want isn’t actually working. Thankfully I’m so new to home automation that the novelty of turning stuff on and off from my phone is still keeping me mostly appeased :wink:

Thanks all, fingers crossed these issues will get straightened out.

CB


(Chrisb) #2

Are you using the Android app or the iOS app? I see you mentioned you have iPhone apps, so I’m guessing iOS. The reason I ask is that I think texting isn’t working yet with the Android app. At least I haven’t had any luck with it. But if you’re using iOS then I think it should.

I’ve heard of others who’ve had issues with the Garage door opener so much so that they re-wrote apps to send the off command a couple of times. If you end up trying my Virtual Garage app I’d be anxious to hear if you have problems with it. It’s worked perfectly for me (incidentally using Intermatic outlets too).


(Mr B) #3

Yes I’m purely IOS. I will likely give your app a shot at some point.


(Cory S) #4

@chrisb texting on Android has worked for me since the earliest beta.


(Chrisb) #5

Okay… then maybe I’m doing something wrong. I’ll have to check my settings.


(Todd Wackford) #6

Texting is done from the cloud/server not the app. The difference between the Android and iOS apps is level of interface implementation and hooks into native functions such as location and push receipt.


(Lucas) #7

@cbrookes,

Keep being vocal with these issues! You are only making Smartthings better with constructive criticism. I am pure Android so I can not attest to your problems. I would pick one and open a ticket with support so it can be tracked and you can provide direct feedback that way.


(Bob Florian) #8

Thank you for your feedback CB. We really do appreciate the detail, not to mention the positive tone.

We have been working on an issue with scheduled jobs that probably accounts for several of the problems you’ve been seeing, particularly the sunrise/sunset and weather alert apps. This problem was corrected yesterday evening and so you should see those apps working reliably now. Let us know what your experience is with them going forward.

The Medicine Reminder app, unfortunately, was released before being ready for prime-time. It only supports once-per-day reminders, the time window (which starts at midnight UTC) is variable but typically very large, and it does not properly account for time zones. We’ll be updating that app very soon to correct these problems. I expect it to be available next week.

I would encourage you to contact our support desk at support@smartthings.com for the other issues. We are using a service for push notifications and have occasionally seen problems, but that shouldn’t account for your never getting garage door monitor alerts. Support can also help with the garage door switch issue.


(Mr B) #9

I was actually revisiting this thread to report an improvement, so it was great to see a note indicating changes which would account for this. I have seen sunrise/sunset change the mode 3 times successfully now. Yesterday morning I was woken up by a text message alerting me to the fact that my medicine cabinet hadn’t been opened yet. I’ve also seen an improvement with the “Once a Day” app, which had just started to misbehave on Thursday.

I’m really excited to start building up confidence and trust in the platform. I will certainly follow up with support on any remaining issues I think I have.


(Cory S) #10

I’ve noticed I need to re install a lot of apps after they do changes on their side. I hope that is something you guys are working on @bflorian. Cloud apps should never really need to be reinstalled for any reason I can think of, and would be pointlessly annoying to your typical consumer.

My mother in law has been hounding me to set her up a system at her vacation home. To be honest, I’m glad I have the excuse that they are sill not publicly available yet, as I’m afraid the way apps tend to flake out from time to time would permanently turn her off on the whole idea.

As I’ve said in other threads I consider myself a platform beta tester until these go retail, I just hope all these issues are gone by then! On a somewhat different subject I hope you guys can renew my faith in the cloud model you have chosen, as all the issues I’ve seen so far seem to reinforce the idea that it is putting a lot of stress on your systems that could had been handled easily on end user equipment. I also suspect the HUB inactive issue over the 4th weekend wouldn’t had happened on a locally hosted system. That was a major issue for me as I was on vacation and couldn’t reset the HUB, which resulted in a great deal of money being lost to the contents of a kegerator connected to a smart outlet. I can’t imagine the frustration it would had caused to someone who had it setup at a vacation property they visit infrequently.


(The Worm) #11

Good to hear I am not the only one that is having problems with Garage Door Monitor. I can’t get that thing to work and I have installed, uninstalled, changed time, removed device everything I can think of and never have I been notified.

I’m using iOS.

Has ANYONE had Garage Door Monitor work???


(Bigwood44) #12

Hello all. I can second the problems that Mr. B is having. When I initially set up my Smartthings ‘system’, everything seemed to work fine. Now after a couple weeks I have a system that I cannot rely on. Smart apps are flat out not working. Simple things like turning on the lights when a door opens will not work. If I am to use text messages as a security feature in my system, they must work every time. I understand that this is a new company and they are working hard to get things going, but you cannot expect me to adopt a ‘smartthings’ lifestyle if your product does not live up to what I was sold. I suppose another debate could be had about whether I am a ‘beta tester’ or not but as the demographic that the Smartthings team should be targeting (middle age, somewhat tech savy, and disposable income). I am slowly feeling let down. I won’t say I have a $300 brick on my hands but rapidly getting there (more like $500 seeing how I ran out and purchased outlets/switches as well). Trying to hang in there.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #13

The scary thing about “Apps” these days, in the context of Apps for iPhone or Android, is that I can NEVER permit automatic updates.

For a large proportion of my phone Apps, it is not exaggerating to say that every-other update breaks something.

The world is apparently in perpetual Beta – and I hate that. Whatever happened to the days when the Beta channel was clearly distinct from the Production channel and releases of upgrades to Production only occurred after thorough testing (and were very incremental…). All major upgrades were a third choice?

Anyhow: My concern here is that SmartApps are going to enter the same risk area. Getting fast bug fixes is great … but not when they break something else that is critical in the app. Even worse is the addition of new features that break unrelated existing stable functionality.

In short: I don’t want automatic updates. I periodically review all the “Reviews” of each of my Android Apps to look for benefits and problems, before manually hitting the update button (and, even then, I keep a local and current backup of every one of my apps so that I can quickly rollback).

Hmmm… I think this may be the logical solution (are you listening, SmartThings, @urman, etc…?):

  • The user must be alerted before any of their SmartApps is updated, and given the opportunity to refuse the update.
  • Updates must come with a description of all their changes and the impact (such as if the user will have to re-input any Parameters or new Parameters.
  • The system must automatically make a backup snapshot of the currently installed SmartApp (and all its parameters) before updating it. Ideally, a history of several versions should be available. Rollback must be made extremely easy, quick, and intuitive.
  • Thanks,
    …CP.