Siri Can Now Control Your Philips Hue Lights
In today’s smart home, a separate hardware bridge may seem like a cumbersome piece of clutter. Take light bulbs, for example: There are app-controlled color-changing lights from Lifx that don’t require a bridge for your mobile device to communicate with the bulb. You just connect each bulb directly to your home Wi-Fi, and you’re good to go.
While that’s a bit more convenient for setup time, Philips has demonstrated that a bridge-based system has a clear benefit: it’s easier to upgrade. The company’s Hue bulbs, which come in a variety of sizes and colors and lumen ratings, use the little Hue hardware puck as an intermediary between the smart LED bulbs and the app on your phone. But that extra piece of hardware makes the system able to add features over time without having to replace all your bulbs.
For example, Philips just announced its new Hue 2.0 bridge, which will be sold as a standalone piece of hardware and included in the updated Hue starter pack, supports Apple HomeKit. To smart-homemakers, that means that you can control your lights just by talking to Siri.
According to Philips Hue inventor and head of technology George Yianni, the new bridge will work with all existing Hue bulbs. The older version of the bridge will also continue to work with all bulbs. But in order to get the HomeKit integration, you’ll need the new hub. It’ll cost $60 by itself, but Philips is also offering a program where owners of the existing bridge can trade it in for the new one for $40.
Yianni says that beyond the new bridge, all you need is an iOS 9 device to start talking to your lights through Siri. However, not all of the functions in the Hue app will be supported by Siri commands.
Linking your system to Siri will require a bit of setup in the Hue app for iOS: You can set up HomeKit functionality from within the app, letting spoken commands control individual lights and groups of lights. For example, you can ask Siri to turn the lights to a certain percentage of brightness or activate a certain Hue lighting scene.
The Hue app is still only designed to operate Philips’s bulbs, but Yianni says the new HomeKit integration will help the lighting system interact with other HomeKit-compatible wares. For instance, you could tie a certain thermostat temperature to a certain lighting scheme. Things like that will likely need to be done through Apple’s upcoming Home app, or a similar “hub” built to control several devices from several manufacturers at once.
According to Yianni, the HomeKit compatibility doesn’t mean Philips is locking itself into Apple’s in-home ecosystem. The Android Hue app will still work with all the company’s bulbs, and he says Philips still plans to offer cross-platform compatibility with devices such as the Nest thermostat.
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