Why Apple will kill Smartthings


#1

Wow - I guess I figured out why smart home technology will take many more years to become mainstream and why Apple will dominate this market if Smartings is anything to go by!

That sounds really negative and I guess it is but let me explain the context.

I’m pretty technical I guess having been a CTO of various software companies for many years and absolutely love gadgets. I’m based in the U.K., did my research and the consensus was that smartthings is the best hub around so asked the family to get me a starter kit for xmas.

Problem 1: Box unpacked and everything plugged in trying to bind my multi purpose sensor. Broken and needed to be returned to Samsung which actually happened pretty efficiently.

New sensor installed and wrecking my brain about what to automate first. Answer: garden lights! I love them to come on an hour after it gets dark and given that they are connected to a standard plug / socket in the kitchen that should be easy. Given my ambitions decided to buy some more plugs and Vesternet offers Greenwave Powernode 1 for a reasonable price so bought a pack of 5.

Problem 2: switches arrive and are installed but it appears my house is too big for the switch to reach the hub. Bit surprised by that as my 1 wifi hotspot does reach the kitchen and the ST hub is installed close (but not too close) to that hotspot. Read somewhere that these z-wave devices are mesh networks so now pleased that I bought a bunch of them to install various of them between hub and kitchen. Didn’t work and a few posts / emails later learned that you have to do various “network repairs” and wait a day or so before that actually works. That did the trick!

Problem 3: Walked into the the kitchen the next day to notice the plug developed a rather annoying flashing sequence. Mrs Gadget was not happy about it so a solution should be found. I asked a few people but never got a satisfactory answer but I concluded that it must be that these switches expect to talk to the hub every few minutes and this polling just didn’t happen frequently enough.

Problem 4: Some people reported similar things and suggested that the keep-alive setting in these switches is increased to 255. I can do that! Well actually I can’t as I was using the standard z-wave metered switch device type which does not allow you to pass any additional configuration settings to that switch. I’m surprised that no one thought of that but hey - it seems I have to write my own device handler.

Problem 5: found the IDE create a device driver from the template and as every good developer learns quickly - first try to figure out how to get some debugging info out of the code so I can see what’s going on. Spend a few hours on that and wondered if I lost all my coding skills. After some extensive googling I find out that debugging using the virtual device doesn’t work reliably and hasn’t done so for about a year. Well that’s not handy but armed with that information I attach my device driver to my physical device in the IDE and as by magic. Debug messages appear!

Problem 6: armed with my new setup I add two debug lines to the driver on in the reset and poll commands to figure out how frequently they are used so I can try to add my keep-alive change to those commands. 30 min later I have to conclude that actually they are never called :frowning: so more googling later I discover that that’s a known issue as well and the solution is a smart app called Pollster but that’s not really recommended either.

That’s where I am at the moment. The garden lights still need to be switched on manually at night and whilst I will continue to try and crack this - most sane individuals would have given up a long time ago and concluded that this stuff just doesn’t work.

If things aren’t easy - it will never reach main stream adoption and this technology seems unbelievably flaky. If the world at large doesn’t sort that out you will soon find that Apple walks in with something that is plug-and-play (and a lot more expensive) but just works and will control the market obviously ignoring any standards like z-wave or zigbee.

Come on Samsung - pull your finger out as not fixing bugs, not considering usability, not having stock and promising things like EVO home integration in the U.K. for many years and not delivering is just not acceptable.

Sorry need to leave now to manually switch the garden lights off.


(Joe B) #2

Odd that you have so many problems. I recently installed a ST hub and about 8 various light switches (still going), in a 4100 square foot house that is one story with a basement, so its spread out pretty well. I’ve had no problems whatsoever with anything working or communicating with the hub and my hub sits right next to a 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz wifi radio as well. I know that home setups and interference can vary between people though, and maybe its just not for you. I haven’t had any issues finding items in stock on Amazon.com for use with the ST hub.
.


(Richmon Schumann) #3

Well, I am not a CTO but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

Aside from the broken device that needed to be returned the issues appear to be not a true understanding of the process to automate and how to do it for your environment.

I am a very new user and had my outside lights automated with sunrise and sunset and the backlights enabled with a GoogleHome. Aside from a few GoogleHome hickups the system works flawlessly.

I bet you can think of times where people have technology in search of a solution. Just like in the professional area you need to understand the problem and what is the best way to solve it.

I laugh at Apple killing Smartthings. They have all but given up owning the home as a corporate strategy. It is Google, Amazon and various service providers that are working to own the home.


#4

I wonder the one product company can come out with what other useful product :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t forget, at one point of time the company is as good as dead.

Nothing is for sure in tech world.


(Kevin) #5

I’m in US but have been following these forums for a year, haven’t noticed mention of Greenwave Powernode. Are these popular/mainstream zwave devices, or a “discount” type product? I did a search here and found at least one other person is having the same flashing issue with them…

Maybe try a more mainstream device (are these popular in UK: Aeon, Fibaro?) and see if you have better results? Here in US I have had better luck with GE and Aeon switches/plugs than I have had with cheaper Enerwave switches.


#6

Why use the greenwave powernode? Yeah its cheaper but if you didn’t want to break into the IDE then why not use the smartthings power socket? its more expensive yes but it just works. :slight_smile:


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #7

Well I guess now all if my stuff is for sale and buying home kit…

150+ devices for an even trade for a home kit hub.

Let’s git er done!


#8

It won’t be Apple that kills SmartThings, since iOS only has about 40% market share. But, some other party, most likely a new company, will definitely clean their clock when a reliable system emerges. This should be a great year!!


(Dan P Parker) #9

I would presume that OP is not familiar with HomeKit, and how difficult Apple has made it for vendors to make their products compatible with it. I’m betting that their insistence on using proprietary protocols AND forcing vendors to buy the required hardware components from their suppliers…plus the resulting extra costs that will be passed along to the consumer…will combine to prevent HomeKit from winning anything, if not outright killing it.


(Steve White) #10

As others have said, being a new user why not just make your first devices all SmartThing branded since they are all plug-and-play. No offense, I think you just took on too much initially before getting a full understanding on how the system works.

I also laugh at the thought of Apple putting SmartThings out of business. Apple still has not a clue in the HA space, and I’m an apple fanboy. If anyone puts SmartThings out of business, it will be SmartThings. Their commitment to the platform is at an all-time low right now.


#11

Thanks for all your replies but I really have an issue with"why not use smartthings switches" - effectively you are saying: only buy Bluetooth headsets made buy the your phone manufacturer. These are standards and smartthings seems to implement them badly and their IDE is riddled with bugs (or I’m unlucky in finding them all in my first attempt)


(Bob) #12

Wow. You must have kicked a lot of black cats, broke a lot of mirrors and walked under a lot of ladders.
I have devices made by different manufacturers and even light switches that work through ST to a different hub via a Raspberry Pi.
I haven’t needed to even attempt writing any sort of code as there is always something you can find if you search the forum.
My system works for the most part apart from the odd delay.
I must admit though at the moment I would not trust the system to run a security system.


(Ray) #13

Try loading a non official third party IOS app into an iPhone. Who do you blame when it doesn’t work right? If you really want to start out right. At least get a device on the official support list. This way, at least you have a better case. I understand your point of view though. We want everything plug n play. There is nothing out there that could do this yet. Including Apple.


(Dan P Parker) #14

And what is your evidence for that assertion?


(Glen King) #15

Nothing will kill SmartThings until a voice interface driven system emerges that can take a statement like “make sure the front door locks whenever the door is closed, and make sure it stays unlocked whenever that door is open” and translate that into its own system language such that the statement’s command in no way adversely impacts any other automations… and do so for fifty bucks. And trust me, I’m very aware of how vulnerable ST is to this. Because right now, ST is not all that smart. It’s very programmable to be sure, but it’s not that smart.


(Kevin) #16

Quoting myself ;-)…

I personally don’t have any SmartThings devices other than the hub. Partially due to price and partially due to preference for Z-wave. In my opinion Z-wave is more established (more readily available and lower prices), has better interoperability between device manufacturers (from what I have read). If you stick with one protocol or the other you make your mesh stronger than if its half zwave and half zigbee.


(Dan P Parker) #17

Well, no…that’s not what he’s saying. Let’s take a look at the exact quote (with some text emphasis added by me):

He simply suggested that you try some ST devices first just to keep things simple when getting your feet wet. He never suggested that you only buy ST products for your home.


#18

LMAO…


(Darwin ) #19

I’m sorry that you had to manually turn off your garden lights. #firstworldproblems


(Dan P Parker) #20