Here’s the link to the full Santa’s wish list article.
Our work includes integrating bus-based smart homes with up to 200 smart devices and adding smart assistants into the equation. All the devices meaning all lights, blinds, heating, cooling, air conditioning, wall switches and smart assistant are bound into a centralised system. Due to its centralisation the user can enjoy an automated smart home that makes their life easier and more enjoyable. Minor daily tasks can easily be automated so your home can do them for you, such turning the light on when you arrive and off when you leave.
Our main task was to simplify the process up to a point where every user can install it themselves and connect a smart assistant, no installer’s help or technical knowledge needed. Simplicity is just one of our selling points, see others and how we compare with our competitors in the field HERE.
This means that any Loxone, KNX or Gira smart home owner can integrate Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa or Google Home smart platforms into their home.
This integration brings you:
🗣 Voice control
💡 Integration of wireless systems (IKEA Trådfri, Philips Hue, Sonos, …)
⚙️ Custom automations
We have noticed that each assistant works quite differently and brings several benefits to the table. We have written more about it HERE. We are tech innovators ourselves who follow smart home development and trends and innovate constantly ourselves.
Now it’s the time to explain the features we miss and would love to have in 2021 for each smart assistant platform. There are a couple of missing features or strange product updates that have been bugging us for years, so we have decided to write them down in the form of a Santa’s wish list.
Google’s greatest feat is the wide compatibility with a variety of smart devices. Their mobile app has a clean and simple design. It allows you to easily combine devices into rooms giving you the option to control the whole room by touch or voice. You can get temperature data on all thermostats, however, the app does not yet support sensors, which is too bad, since they make a great addition to any smart home. A downside to the app’s simplicity is the unnecessarily complicated creation of routines, and changing settings.
Google’s routines have been hidden under layers and layers of submenus and are only recently getting a redesign to make them more easily accessible. You can only set a command or time triggered Routine.
It sometimes feels like Google is playing catch up on all fronts with Apple and Amazon, although lately we have seen several updates that show that this fight for survival of the smartest is far from over.
Here are the things we miss in Google Home smart home ecosystem and would love to see in 2021:
1. Support for blinds and sensors in UI
Google Home works well with a lot of mainstream devices, but we’re still missing the implementation of sensors and blinds. Sensors aren’t implemented at all, whereas blinds work through voice commands but cannot be controlled through the App and can’t be included in routines. Our temporary workaround is to define the blinds as switches and thus enable them to be shown in the Google app and included in routines, however the commands are then limited to “turn on/off”, not “open/close” anymore. It would be great to see improvement in this field so that Google can catch up with Apple and Alexa.
2. Improve mobile UI to support bigger smart home installations
Google Home app looks almost exactly the same since we first opened it years ago, whereas the Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Home app get minor adaptations regularly. We have received several complaints from our users that they can’t find certain settings in the Google Home app or are missing some core features they’ve gotten used to from either Alexa or Apple, e.g. different routine triggers, geofencing automation. One of the biggest complaints is when a customer has a big installation of over 100 devices that they can’t sort them in a sensible way and find the desired one. It would be great to see improvements in the UX of their app, especially since they don’t limit the maximum number of devices like Apple does.
3. Replacement for Google Chromecast Audio
In the start of 2019, Google discontinued their Chromecast audio device reasoning that “Our product portfolio continues to evolve, and now we have a variety of products for users to enjoy audio.” But still, Google Chromecast Audio was a simple, effective and cheap way of adding Wi-Fi streaming to any speaker with an auxiliary jack. This ability is extremely important to owners of older high-end audio equipment.
4. Secure Video equivalent
Apple paves the way to a private smart home, and video cameras and intercoms are the perfect device to showcase this feature on. They’ve added HomeKit Secure video which brings camera streaming, recording, and activity notifications directly to the Home app - all of this in a secure and private way compared to the competition. It would be great if Google would also add this feature into their repertoire of features, especially since they already support a lot of different smart cameras.
5. Automation executed in house like HomeKit
It would be great if Google enabled their automations to run locally on Google Home speakers for instance (same as Apple is doing with HomePods, iPad and Apple TVs). At the moment, all the smart home automations created in Google Home run through cloud. This creates latency issues and it makes them dependent on having a constant internet connection. Local automations would drastically improve experience as well as reliability.
6. CHIP cannot come soon enough
Right now it’s cumbersome to select the right set of smart home devices which won’t lock you into a specific ecosystem, be it Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit. A very small set of manufacturers go through the effort of supporting all three equally, so it’s great news that in recent times the promises are big about merging them. If these three can agree on a common and open standard then the manufacturers will have a lot less work to support all three. Since this is an open standard this would mean that it would also be open for new competition or even open-source initiatives.