The smarter home is closer to becoming a reality as Philips’ wireless lighting gets an update allowing iPhone owners to talk to their lights.
It might sound like a foreign concept, but with the latest update to the Philips Hue system, anyone using an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch will actually be able to tell their device exactly what they want to do, with the lights responding.
This week, Philips unveiled the additions to a refreshed Hue wireless lighting line-up which now boasts WiFi lightbulbs in both screw and bayonet mounts, with downlighting also on the way, too.
The additions to the Hue bulb line-up support the multiple colours Philips has previously demonstrated from its Hue line-up, and so can be given various colour recipes to turn your home blue or red or bright white with a tinge of blue, with the latter an example demonstrating a shade designed to energise and increase stimulation.
Colour formulas can be crafted from photos or just from a colour slider, and then named appropriately and applied to rooms where Hue lightbulbs are, allowing one-stop control for lighting across the household, switching on lights in the bathroom, living room, and bedrooms, forcing the little ones to sleep or encouraging them to do more homework thanks to a sneakily conceived work-friendly lighting scheme.
The control is handled through an app on either Google Android or Apple iOS, but owners of the iOS version will get one neat addition: support for Apple HomeKit and the ability to talk to Siri as a result.
This means if you do have an iPhone, Apple’s voice assistant Siri will be able to turn off the lights or dim them based on your commands to it, such as “Siri, dim the lights in the living room to 30 percent” or “Siri, change the kitchen lights to blue”.
Android owners aren’t quite so luck, and after talking to a Philips representative on the matter, GadgetGuy was told that while it could be in the pipeline, currently Apple’s HomeKit with Siri is supported, with no support for Google Now’s voice assistant.
That still won’t stop Android users from controlling the lightbulbs, but they just can’t do it using voice like their iOS friends.
Getting the bulbs to support this, however, you’ll need a new bridge, and while the lights are all compatible with old and new Philips Hue Bridge units, if you want the HomeKit support with Siri, you’ll need a new bridge.
In the Philips Hue system, the bridge is like a router for your lights, allowing every light installed in the system to talk to a basic point that is connected to the internet.
Priced at $89.95, Philips says the new bridge is at least 500 times more powerful than the original, allowing the company to build in a bit of future-proofing for the lighting system, while also delivering support for geofencing technology, which allows the Philips Hue app to pick up on your location and activate the lights as your approaching home late at night.
Owners of the old Philips Hue Bridge will still see the new lights, but just not get access to the new features, though it won’t be long until the old model is phased out, forcing you to go with the new one if you’re buying into a system. And if you’re replacing one, we’re told the new Hue Bridge will adopt your old recipes.
Philips’ colour lightbulbs are available now as the “Colour Ambiance” bulbs, but they’re also being joined by white lightbulbs which won’t do colours but will do white, affording people who don’t want the colours to get wireless lightbulbs to act like proper lightbulbs.
These will come in at different prices, with the Hue White Starter Kit arriving with two white lightbulbs and a new Bridge for $145, while a three-bulb colour kit with the new Bridge nearly doubles it to $290.
Individual bulbs can be purchased, too, and that will apply to downlights when they arrive later this year, but you’ll want to check around if you’re outfitting an entire home, because it could get expensive.