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Making your home smarter is probably on more people's minds than ever right now, but it can become a seriously dizzying project just remembering all the various voice commands and apps involved, to the point that you might even want a dedicated piece of hardware for controlling it all. Kind of like a universal TV remote, but for light bulbs, cameras, and smart thermostats. And using an old smartphone, you basically can, just as long as it isn't too old.
One of Android's real perks is that, while many phones do stop getting updated eventually, Google supports them for a tremendously long time via Play Store and Play Services updates so that their popular apps continue to work even on seemingly ancient hardware.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is the Swiss Army Knife of smart home devices. It can connect to just about every smart home device in existence over a variety of wireless protocols, combining everything in a single control panel for easy management and automation. Those of you in the UK can get it for just £55 right now, during a limited Boxing Day sale.
Modern "smart" home standards have more than a few dumb things about them, like the fact that certain hardware often locks you into a specific ecosystem of supported devices and software. If something works with Alexa, it doesn't always mean that it will work with the Assistant or Siri, and that's not even mentioning the whole obnoxiousness of "hubs." Thankfully, a new open standard is being developed by some of the biggest names in the smart home industry, with Amazon, Apple, and Google all backing a new open-source approach via the imaginatively titled "Project Connected Home over IP." It's a complicated-sounding name, but what really matters is the fact that future smart home products will be more inter-compatible and secure.
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.
Samsung SmartThings is a versatile smart home platform with one crucial caveat: It only supports US and UK plugs at the moment, locking out many interested parties in countries with different wiring. This is about to change. In preparation for IFA in Berlin, Samsung announced on Wednesday that it's bringing SmartThings devices to Germany this September. With the country using EU wall plugs, this should allow people based in other countries with these sockets to import them, too, and use them without adaptors.
Although Samsung has been in the smart home game for a few years now with its SmartThings ecosystem, its lineup has mostly relied on being a central home automation hub that integrates with third-party devices like plugs and lights to automate your home. Until today, the majority of the brand's IoT products were sensors that would act as triggers, but the company is now expanding it with a smart camera, plug, and bulb, which give it a complete range of smart home products.
In amidst the Google-y goodness that is the yearly I/O conference, Samsung had to go and try to steal some of the spotlight. You might be wondering how, exactly, the electronics giant is going about this. TechCrunch broke the news this morning that a development lab within the company has actually been leaking important information like the SmartThings source code and app signing keys.
Sales on the Nvidia Shield TV are relatively rare – as compared to some of our other favorite devices – so this one immediately caught my interest. You can grab the best Android TV box around and get a SmartThings Link for free, basically. You have to buy the Smart Home bundle, obviously.
Inter-operability in the smart home isn't a given. Even when using standards like ZigBee and Z-Wave, you'll still find products from different companies that don't work well together. This is why today's news that Fibaro's devices are now compatible with SmartThings is quite nice to hear.
Earlier this month, home improvement store Lowe's announced it was shutting down its ecosystem of 'Iris' smart home devices. In addition to giving some Iris device owners prepaid Visa cards, Lowe's is working with Samsung to ensure the company's SmartThings hub supports as many Iris devices as possible.
If you're a former Iris user looking to replace your unsupported devices, or if you just want to deck your home out in smart stuff, Samsung has a decent promotion right now.