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What’s Wrong with Apps for Home Control?
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September 15, 2011 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The case for and against letting smart phones and tablets control your home.
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Posted by Bradley Elliott  on  09/16  at  11:20 AM

Apps are great but not 100%... much like any pc, windows or mac they all need a reboot or update.  Our (http://www.elahome.com) opinion is that hard buttons are always needed in each room.  Hard to replace that instant command… imagine replacing all the light switches with itouch in each room… unusable.

Posted by westcojack  on  09/16  at  11:35 AM

I actually agree, if you lose the phone or iPad, how do you control the system???
We usually add at least one remote or in wall touchscreen in the home that can be a backup.

Posted by GS  on  09/16  at  11:51 AM

I totally agree. I would definitely want both options. Maybe they have the app included, but then sell a cheap remote as an option upgrade.

Posted by westcojack  on  09/16  at  12:31 PM

@Bradley
I agree again, for lighting, you should always include keypads, even in rooms with touchscreens or iPads.
I also makes the world a lot less complicated for anyone who is a technophobe.
Just press the button and the lights go on.

Posted by Scott  on  09/16  at  12:47 PM

That fact the the system apparently became unavailable because an update had just came out was the fault of the manufacture - and really has nothing to do with the fact that the system uses an app.

The programmers should have indicated that an update was available, and let you continue to use system until your desire to update.

If someone’s worried about being without their iphone, etc. and afraid they will suddenly not be able to control there music, that can just buy a second hand ipod touch from craigslist for under $100. 

I think that’s a much better option than forcing everyone to buy a package that also includes hardware remote for backup use like the article and a comment here suggests would be a better idea.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  09/16  at  01:04 PM

Scott, you make a good point, but I’ll bet that it won’t be long before AV receiver or TV manufacturers stop including remotes with their products because they assume you can use the app. Remember when products came with paper manuals? Now you’re lucky if you get a CD manual. Customer service is practically an app too: press 1 for hardware problems, press 2 for firmware updates, press 3 to check on a previous complaint ...

Posted by GS  on  09/16  at  03:40 PM

I have never really like apps for controlling things, or at least a collection of things, because there is no one app that does it all. That is unless you have it integrated into one with something like Crestron.

Camera app? Sure, let me launch that.
TV control app? Sure, let me get out of the camera app and go to the TV one.
Lighting app? Damn, I should have done that first before messing with the TV, so get out of the TV, find the lighting app and adjust the lights.
Now I want to see the cameras on the TV, so back to the TV app, find the button to change the input, then back to the camera app to change the cameras around.
Crap, an incoming call on my iPhone, now I can’t turn down the volume on the TV..


People don’t seem to understand that sure an iThing is a cheap touchpanel but you still need a system to control everything seemlessly in one app for your iThing, or have a dedicated panel to do nothing but that.

Posted by JJS  on  09/17  at  05:32 PM

I agree with you.  Any product that can be run remotely should be shipped with a hardware remote.  Their batteries don’t run down overnight or in a couple of days since they only are used intermittently. 

I only want a basic cell phone, but I do have an iPod Touch that I bought mainly because it was a much cheaper alternative to buying a second Sonos remote.  I don’t use it for Web access since it doesn’t support Flash, but that’s another story.  Since then it has also become my second Olive remote, and I’ve started using it for some reference apps.  The main problem with using an iAnything is the lousy battery time.  I leave my iPod Touch on my dresser, not in a charger, and as long as it’s keeping in touch with my home’s wireless router it’s using up lots of battery power.  If I turn off the wireless capability the battery can last for weeks, but then every time I have to use it as a remote I have to take the time to turn the wireless feature back on.  I can walk through the house and pick up the real remote in less time than that.  Until iPhones, iPods and iPads give MUCH better standby battery time, or can be set to automatically turn off wireless service when they’re not in use, I don’t see them as a workable solution to being the ONLY remote for any product.

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  09/20  at  04:32 PM

Good point. However a common practice among integrators with IT background is to turn off auto updates once the system is tested and working. This is basically the same approach you take with any traditional component in your system (controller, AV receiver, TV etc..) so why not adopting the same with the app?


Eyal Kattan
http://www.media-nexus.com

Posted by Brian Garrett  on  09/21  at  11:15 AM

Wow - I’m just amazed that I’m in the minority here.  Give me one solid iPhone/Pad/Touch remote that I can run everything from and I’ll be a happy camper.  The idea that I can have central control over everything from one device.  My wife can have her iPhone and I mine.  And exactly how does one “loose” an iPhone with the ability to use the GPS feature to find it - even more so in your house.  You loose your remotes in your house?

The idea that you have to have a dedicated hardware device with a dedicated “app” to only control your home control system is just the silliest of ideas.  Fine, got out and buy your iWhatever and only put the single-purpose app on it.  Now you have a dedicated device that you spent a TON of money on and serves only on purpose vs. an iOS device that not only is your remote, in any room from anywhere, but also can do other things with it.  That is a value-added proposition.

Ultimately what I want is a central “brain” in the house that works with the AV systems, environmental and security - all tied back into a UI on my iOS device, which I have with me at all times.  The only thing that could trump that would be voice commands, which of course could be done, but there still would be the need for the remote.

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