Samsung's SmartThings hub was once a staple of most smart home setups, as it supported all the varying wireless standards used by smart devices (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, etc.) and integrated them into one place. Now that most smart home devices use regular Wi-Fi, SmartThings isn't quite as essential as it used to be, but Samsung still has big plans for the platform, as revealed at the 2019 Samsung Developer Conference.
First, Samsung is addressing one of the most annoying problems with SmartThings: device compatibility. Any company can already add SmartThings support to its products, but in order to appear as compatible from inside the app (e.g. the product name appears in the proper category), the company had to have ties with Samsung. This meant that smaller manufacturers often required users to manually connect their devices to SmartThings using the developer console, which isn't a super great experience.
Samsung's solution to this problem is the SmartThings Device SDK Beta, which will launch sometime in 2020. It will allow more companies to create SmartThings-compatible products, and a new global certification center will supposedly reduce the time required to approve third-party products.
Some of Samsung's first-party SmartThings products, released earlier this year
Speaking of more devices, Samsung also announced a few more partnerships for SmartThings. All August locks will soon be integrated in SmartThings, and that includes Yale’s Connected by August locks, and Emtek’s EMPowered Lock. The feature will roll out in January of 2020 and you need the August Connect Wi-Fi bridge for this to work. Acuity will develop lights that connect directly through SmartThings, without additional hubs or accounts (similar to the GE C-Life light bulbs for the Google Home). Tuya, the white-label manufacturer behind hundreds of smart plugs and light bulbs, is also working closely with Samsung to certify its products.
Samsung is also trying to make SmartThings a more powerful automation platform, akin to IFTTT or TP-Link's Kasa Smart Actions, with a new Rules API for device makers. For example, you could tell Samsung's virtual assistant Bixby that you're ready to watch a movie, and the room lights would dim, the blinds would close, the thermostat could change, and more. Samsung plans for the Rules API to function locally, so a loss in internet connection (or a SmartThings server outage) wouldn't break anything.
Finally, you might start seeing more devices with integrated SmartThings hubs. A new 'Works as SmartThings Hub' program will allow device manufacturers to embed SmartThings into their own products, like cable boxes or routers. The SmartThings Link for the Nvidia Shield TV is one existing example of this.