The new Philips Hue app is just what was required. There are some key differences that make it easier to use that were maybe a bit overdue. When I first got the kit I did make note that the colour picking method was difficult because of the size of the drop pins and that you basically have to create the palette yourself. Which was actually the entire point and the concept is sound – but we really needed a quick way to dial up and down bulbs and, put simply, a colour wheel. The LIFX app already lays it out like that and it was definitely quicker and easier to use.
The thing is this app is sitting between the user and one of the most simple, widely distributed and regularly used devices in any household – the light switch. More than anything else, ease of access and immediate response should be the principal drivers for developing anything that’s going to get in the way of such an ingrained relationship. My housemate (who bought the first bulbs) has basically abandoned them and just uses them as regular lights as the app frustrated him – it was always easier and quicker to use the switch.
I’ve stuck with it, though, and now using them is second nature. There have been a number of updates and the response time has been improved to the point where I’ve got no complaints. The app’s redesigned interface is the last piece of the puzzle.
All of the interfaces are larger. You start with grouping lights, setting their values and saving it as a switch. There’s a colour wheel for setting each light’s colour. You can brighten or dim groups and switch their constituents on and off with an “on/off” switch rather than having to use a slider. There’s also a slider that’s been made a more useable size. There are still scenes and they now have bigger icons. Also, there is finally a scheduler. I’ve wanted to be able to set a repeatable timer to turn off any lights accidentally left on. Trying to do this with IFTTT is certainly possible, but here in Australia the service can be a bit flaky. It’s much better to have a basic function like this built into the native app.
I was a bit concerned that the support for these gizmos would wane after a while, but they have kept it up and they’ve got a better product for it.