Let’s be honest, the Philips Hue app has a horrible design. But this is just a bad memory now as the company has released a new major version of its iOS and Android app. The app is now more polished and comes with a bunch of extra features.
Let’s start with the design. I’ve been using Huemote on my iPhone to control my lights. It’s clean, straightforward and comes with a nifty Today View widget.
The official Philips Hue app main screen now looks a lot like Huemote, and it’s a good thing. You can turn on and off lights in just one tap, control the intensity and easily trigger scenes.
The app finally looks like a modern iOS app and not something that was ported from the pre-iOS 7 days. The interface is efficient and straight to the point. Gone is the hamburger button, general sluggishness and convoluted menu structure.
When it comes to features, the big new feature is room support. Now, you can create groups of lights so that you can control all the lights in one room more easily. These rooms will also work with Siri if you have the HomeKit-compatible Hue bridge.
For each room, you can select a scene or create a custom scene so that you can change your lights in one tap. You can also turn on and off individual lights and change the color using a new color picker.
Philips has also made it easier to create routines. For instance, you can very easily create an alarm clock routine that will gradually turn on the lights in your bedroom from Monday to Friday. Or you can create a routine that will slowly dim the lights at night before going to sleep. And, like before, you can create a geofencing rule to turn off the lights when you leave your apartment and turn on the lights when you arrive at nighttime.
Now there are still some flaws with the apps. You can’t copy scenes from one room to another — even creating scene isn’t intuitive. The widget isn’t as powerful as Huemote’s widget. I experienced a few crashes as well but let’s hope Philips is going to fix them soon.
But this is still a good update. Arguably, Philips Hue’s entire point is that there’s a whole ecosystem of apps and services that can take advantage of your installation. Some apps are very powerful and let you script scenarios. Others, like the official app, are a good introduction. But nothing is stopping you from trying out new apps and see what works for you.