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Athom Blog

The official blog by Athom, creators of Homey

Behind the Magic – July 2018

Posted on August 3, 2018 in Behind the Magic

In these Behind the Magic series, we give an overview of what we worked on the month before. Please be warned that the contents might get a little technical now and then.

I’m writing this blog with two Dyson fans pointed at me to beat the heat (as of this week the Dyson Link can be connected to Homey!). Some of our employees are enjoying a well-deserved holiday break, and the rest of the team is working on a lot of amazing things we can’t wait to show you.

Microcontroller update

To start, we’ve completed the previously announced microcontroller update and it will be released to our internal alpha testers group next week, under Homey v1.5.13. This will be one of the last v1.x updates, if not the last, we’ll ship. A lot of work has been put into making 433 MHz and 868 MHz more reliable, and maybe even improve the wireless range a little bit — but we’ll have to wait for real-life observations to know for sure what the gains are.

Homey v2.0

Work on Homey v2.0 has been finished. We’ve completed our work on Homey Core, which is a massive update that improves the reliability, speed and maintainability a lot. Especially the maintainability is important for us, because now we can add more features a lot easier, faster and more reliable.

The Athom Connect cloud service has also been completed and is waiting for Homeys running v2.0 to connect. Athom Connect will replace My Athom and acts as a gateway to our cloud services.

Developers

The Athom Developer web portal has been made compatible with Homey v2.0, and as a bonus we’ve included many device pairing templates in Homey v2.0 to make it easy for developers to create a mobile-first experience without having to think about design and interfaces. The documentation will be updated the moment we start rolling out Homey v2.0.

All that’s left now is a successful rollout of Homey v1.5.13 and the last work on the Homey Smartphone App. For the app, we’ve completely redesigned the experience for controlling devices. The interface for devices will be automatically generated to ensure the best experience for users while making it easier for developers. We will send out a Developer Update e-mail this month to all developers summarising all the changes in Homey v2.0.

Experiments

I’d like to talk about a new feature we call Experiments (called Labs in the last update). You can soon enable features we call Experiments, which is functionality that we can not give official support for, but we still think are worth including.

To give an example, every last Friday of the month we host a Hacky Friday, where every employee at Athom can dedicate the entire day to a project they find challenging or useful. Last week for me that was to integrate Apple’s Homekit directly into Homey v2.0’s core as Experiment. The Homekit experiment allows you to control all your devices connected to Homey from an iOS device. Even with Siri! It took just one day to write this, and we couldn’t have done it without the improvements included in Homey v2.0.

Homey v2.0 brings many more enhancements. Speech parsing related to devices has been improved as well, with commands such as “Turn all lights in the Living Room and Hallway to red” and “Turn off all devices upstairs”, which turns off all devices in the Upstairs zone, and all it’s child zones. This is now also the default behaviour for the Flow card ‘Turn on/off all devices’.

What’s also new is the integrated Weather service. Homey can now answer what the weather is by asking. New Flow cards have been added as well (For example: When you’re leaving home, and it’s going to rain, say Take an umbrella!). And my personal favourite; a LED Ring screensaver that displays the current weather. Just wait for the thunderstorms!

For our power users we’ve added a Logic Variables screen where you can manage your variables, to be used in Flows and/or HomeyScript.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is now available in Dutch, and as a company based in The Netherlands we are of course going to support this. We’ll add Google Assistant Smart Home capabilities as well in the same update. This will most likely happen during the period Homey v2.0 is between bèta and stable.

Zigbee

We planned to rewrite pieces of our Zigbee stack to improve reliability, but unfortunately due to circumstances with the engineer assigned on the project not being able to anymore this has been delayed a bit. We’re always on the lookout for talent.

Bluetooth Low Energy

The Bluetooth LE implementation in Homey v2.0 has also gained some attention and will be worked on gradually over time as well. Expect to see improvements here in a few minor updates, before we release it as being stable.

Backup & Restore

Homey v2.0 has a new settings storage (based on SQLite), and from v2.0 Homey Apps are automatically using this improved storage as well.

Homey v2.1 will then include Backup & Restore functionality, which backups your Homey’s settings to the cloud. We’re still uncertain if the Homey Smartphone App will include Wi-Fi Setup at launch, but if we didn’t make it, Homey v2.1 certainly will, because it’s required for this feature.

Share a Flow

Somewhere after the Homey v2.1 release we’ll add support to share a Flow to e-mail, WhatsApp etc. by using your phone’s share functionality. These Flows can then also be embedded in a website or blog.

We also have the idea of importing someone else’s Flow into your Homey. This will be added later, if we figure our how to do it right with all the different combinations (for example, what if you share a Flow that turns a light to red, but you don’t have.any lights that can change color?).

Homey Security

When we’ve catched a breath and finished everything described above, we’ll start work on Homey Security, a major update with security-related features such as support for cameras, activity within a zone. For example, when a sensor has reported activity, that zone is marked active. You can then create Flows such as When the zone has been inactive for {x} minutes which solves most timer problems.

Apps

Parallel to all features described above I don’t want you to forget that we’re also working on many apps we maintain. Many of our apps have been updated to Apps SDK v2, and we have a few new ones in the works…

— Emile

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