SmartThings Update Brings You One Step Closer to Having the Jetsons’ Automated House
The trouble with today’s smart homes is that they’re not quite smart enough. If you want to live the Jetsons’ lifestyle, you’ve got basically three choices:
1. You can pay a custom installer thousands of dollars to create a proprietary system in your home (and then call the company whenever it breaks).
2. You can DIY it by buying all your components in a single system, like Staples Connect or Lowe’s Iris, and deal with any limitations and hassles baked into those systems.
3. Or you can cobble together the best and latest gadgets from different manufacturers — like Nest thermostats or Dropcam cameras — and try to find a way for them to talk to one another.
SmartThings just made that last option a lot easier. Today, the company announced a new mobile app and a new direction. Instead of being a one-stop-source for smart devices, SmartThings is becoming a platform for third-party smart home products. It’s adding support for more than 100 devices, including popular gadgets like the Jawbone UP24 fitness band and Dropcam cameras, as well as apps like Life360. SmartThings is also launching a test lab where it will certify third-party devices and apps for compatibility and security.
The goal is to boost your home’s IQ without busting your budget. The new version of SmartThings looks like a step in the right direction.
I got an early look at the new SmartThings app and found it to be both more streamlined and more sophisticated than previous incarnations. A simplified dashboard lists all your connected devices by function (doors and locks, lights and switches, safety and security, and so on). You can view each group of devices or get the overall status of your home with a single tap.
Adding new devices and assigning tasks to them also got easier. Hitting the + button at the bottom of the dashboard brings you to the new SmartSetup module, where you can view Things (connected devices), Alerts (doors open or closed, leaks, smoke), Actions (the jobs assigned to each device), and more.
SmartSetup features dozens of prefab smart apps that make it easy to do some pretty cool things, if you’ve got the right devices installed. For example, with a few taps on the screen, you can set up a night-light that snaps on when motion is detected in the kid’s room, but only after dark. Other smart apps can send a text to members of your carpool when you’re parked outside their house, or notify you if your aging mother leaves her bedroom during the night but doesn’t return (the “Slip & Fall” alert). And the next time your Jawbone UP wakes you by buzzing gently on your wrist, it can also tell SmartThings to flip the light switch, turn on the coffee maker, and crank the stereo.