“Turn red! Dim the bedside lamp! Turn off the TV room lighting strip! Give me a discount on a new Philips Hue Bridge!” Those are just some of the things you can now say to Philips’ T3 Award-winning Hue smart lights thanks to the launch of the new Hue Bridge 2.0. The last one won’t actually work on the bulbs, but if you own the original Bridge, you can get a third off the price of its replacement.
HomeKit devices are thin on the ground so far, but from what I’ve seen of it, Apple’s system boasts very easy setup, reliable connectivity and deep integration with Siri. Now Philips Hue which, alongside Nest, is the poster child for the connected home, works with it, HomeKit starts to look like a very viable system.
The new, HomeKit-compatible Bridge, which plugs into your router, means that, thanks to Apple’s usual, benign but slightly menacing, ‘do as we say or you can’t be in our club’ approach, other compatible devices’ apps will also be able to take control of your bulbs, strips and light fittings. So your HomeKit thermostat’s app can fade up your lights as it turns on your heating in the morning, based on a reading from your bedroom’s in-room smart thermometer, for instance.
Despite this, Philips’ own app will only control Hue and will not allow you to control other HomeKit devices. Interesting.
In great news for people who aren’t phased by the notion of speaking to inanimate objects, HomeKit compatibility also means that now Siri can lend sophisticated control of individual and grouped lights, when it’s working.
Thanks to HomeKit’s scenes, rooms and sub-groups, you can issue commands from the simple – “Turn on all the lights” – to the more sophisticated likes of “Turn the left lamp in the kids’ room orange”.
UPDATE: what you can’t do is activate Philips Hue ‘scenes’ (colour combinations called things like ‘Sunset’ and ‘Deep sea’) via Siri or other Homekit apps; this functionality is via the Hue app only. Apple actually has a different definition of ‘scenes’. In HomeKit it means activating a number of commands to smart home devices based on, for instance, you waking up, or going to bed, or wanting to have a red hot disco party, mama, yeah.
All existing Hue lighting products will be compatible with Bridge 2.0. Philips is also at pains to emphasise that it will continue to support the original hub. It’s also worth noting that the upgraded Bridge 2.0 isn’t only intended for HomeKit support. It’s better processor and more sophisticated design are intended to allow connection to whatever home control systems come along in the next decade.
And finally, in related news, the Hue Lux range of non-coloured bulbs is to be phased out in favour of the very similar Hue White, with “aggressive” price cutting promised as LED lighting becomes the norm and economies of scale kick in.
The Bridge 2.0 will cost £50/$60, with a 33% discount on offer via Meethue.com for existing users, from November 1 till December 31 2015. It also comes as part of a Starter Pack with three bulbs for £150/$250.