I have several friends who are interested in SmartThings because they have echo and want to expand those capabilities. These are technically savvy people, what I call “second adopters.” They already use IFTTT. They don’t mind some set up, but they have busy lives and they don’t want to tinker or go to the forums to figure out how to do something. They are expecting echo-type simplicity and they’re obviously not getting it.
None of them are going to the “marketplace” tab because they assume that that’s where they would find add-ons for purchase. It doesn’t make sense to them that you go to the marketplace to set up a device you already own.
None of them can figure out the lighting wizard. It’s OK as they set up the very first rule, but then they don’t understand what to do if they want to have a second schedule for the same device.
So say they have a light in the entryway. They want it to come on at night if the door opens. They also want it to come on based on a motion sensor when you’re coming from a room on the other side. They also want it to come on from a button on the Minimote. They can figure out how to do the first one of these, no matter which one it is, but after that they don’t know what to do. Or how to find out which use cases they’ve already scheduled. And the method of grouping lights, in particular, doesn’t seem to have the same functionality as many other systems, including echo.
The motivation for this note is that one of them told me they decided to look for a “more modern system, like Insteon.”
Having now had four of these conversations, I’m starting to feel like SmartThings is a very powerful platform that requires a large commitment of time and energy to utilize that power.
I’m not saying there’s a good alternative in the marketplace at this time but while I’m really happy with what I can do SmartThings, it seems to be shifting even further away from a plug-and-play concept.
Virtual switches are fantastic, and I am very grateful for them, but they’re not intuitive and nothing in the new mobile app design makes them any moreso.
Is SmartThings becoming just a coder’s platform?