In the small, yet secretive world of the “connected home” (we predicted a bright future for it 10 years ago, not really), Amazon, Apple and Google are often mentioned. Alexa and its skillsHomeKit and Google Assistant + Home, these three American digital giants are crammed into these devices that are trying to make our homes better. smart.
But that’s forgetting Samsung, the world’s No.1 consumer electronics giant in many categories. The South Korean juggernaut bought US company SmartThings in 2014, and everyone saw the connected home as a new digital Eldorado. It was nothing, nothing more. I remember very well that in 2015, Samsung promised that all Samsung devices would be connected by 2020. The promise is not fulfilled: here we are in 2023, and after spending a few minutes in the manufacturer’s large online catalog, there are logical references to household appliances (fridges, hoods, hobs, etc.). Offline. But things have changed. So I looked at the status of Smart Things…
What is the policy?
It’s always the same: you connect devices in your home, and you start by connecting them to the SmartThings app at the software level. If they are Samsung devices, it will go very quickly and it may be automatic. For other brands, the app must be authorized to control the devices; That, for example and in my case, Philips Hue (lights), Arlo (cameras), Sonos (music) goes through the connection window. Unlike Google Home, SmartThings doesn’t connect to My Teddy Boot (a small Polish company). Don’t blame Samsung, perhaps third-party manufacturers should make their devices compatible with SmartThings. Fortunately, we’re moving towards the universality of connected devices, especially via the Mater Connect standard, which is slowly spreading… (there’s a Samsung wireless charger that serves as a universal hub for connecting Mater devices to SmartThings, see photo below). Once everything is connected, the SmartThing can turn lights on or off, play music, and view camera feeds.
What are the benefits?
Nothing interesting yet, from what we just said, you can do it, and with ease and options, with the Hue, Sonos or Arlo app, using my examples. That’s the point of Smart Things (or Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit). concentrate To access control of connected home, one way Voice assistant (Bixby in Samsung’s case) or a remote device (see below), and create entrances Through routines and displays between these devices. So we come to tab “Automations” from the SmartThing app. I created “Relax Ambience” which turns on all the lights a certain way and plays a certain playlist. Basic. “Holidays”, which activates the “absence” mode: the cameras monitor, the dye lights simulate the presence of the evening. Clever: You can configure “if” and “then” in procedures. Example: If my Arlo camera detects motion, all my hue lights will turn on. This is a simple example, there are many possibilities and options, you need to take time to understand and configure (it’s not easy for everyone…).
So much for the idea, and it works well, although it requires some consideration of logic and creativity. Samsung’s advantage lies in its complete ecosystem of devices. If you only have a Samsung, it will work faster and easier. It’s Apple’s technique, finally, in an extended version, as Samsung’s catalog ranges from air conditioners to televisions to smartphones and ovens.
Another essential device: the GalaxyWatch. It’s a connected watch from Samsung that lets you control SmartThings-connected devices from your wrist. I tested: it works, and the watch plays its role as a remote device for managing “Samsung House”. But it’s not the smoothest, most intuitive experience, and I have fond memories of using Google Assistant on the Fitbit Sense. In addition, I noticed constant disconnections and messages: “Unable to connect to the switch”. But in theory, it’s a nice tool, and you can stream your backyard surveillance camera to your wrist. We haven’t seen much, but it deserves to be there!
cannot be avoided Bixby, a Samsung voice assistant that can be launched from a smartphone, tablet or Samsung Watch. We know that even software giants Google and Amazon will find it difficult to widely impose the use of “Alexa” and “OK Google” because, as I can attest, it’s still far from perfect and more often than not practical, annoying. So, the South Korean, with his peculiar approach, robotic and thorough rather than conversational, struggles even more to convince me:
But let’s be objective, for those accustomed to using Bixby, it’s an additional gateway to Samsung’s SmartThings connected home. So, you can say “bigby, turn on the living room lights” or “show me in front of the house” (surveillance camera). of the voice assistant (a nice Arlo widget on the home screen would be faster).
A very complete, yet economical SmartThings app
Let’s return to SmartThings for a moment. A chasm separates the way Google (through the Home app) and Samsung envision the connected home. The South Korean approach is more encyclopedic, and opening the application does not encourage more than one, because of the austerity of the interface and the completeness of the menus. We quickly realize that we can do many things with many devices, even ones we don’t own (for example, a high-end refrigerator or stove with an integrated camera). For starters, even if you only have two bulbs and a camera, the app shows you many possibilities. It gets discouraged very quickly, especially compared to Google’s “gentle” method, which seems less frugal and doesn’t hit you with “all you can do”.
Samsung Home is a reality because SmartThings is integrated, year after year, into Samsung’s enormous list of devices, from the laundry room to the kitchen, through your pocket and the TV in the living room. Is it easier to configure and control than Google or Amazon Home (so for those struggling to connect things in the home connected to Google Home or the Alexa platform/app)? The answer is not clear. Google and Amazon have more experience and background with European and American audiences, which makes them more intuitive than the South Korean solution.
But, a big advantage for Samsung: the number of Samsung devices (naturally compatible with Smart Things Home) is much larger if you choose this brand more often. Let’s go further: No other company in the world has such a list of connected devices for individuals. This allows the Samsung ecosystem to naturally settle back into your home. If your smartwatch, phone, computer, TV, and other devices are Samsung-branded, you better dive into using SmartThings and Bixby!
“Travel aficionado. Incurable bacon specialist. Tv evangelist. Wannabe internet enthusiast. Typical creator.”