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Athom Blog

The official blog by Athom, creators of Homey

Behind the Magic – June 2018

Posted on June 29, 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.

June has been mostly similar to May. Our development priorities are still the Microcontroller, the new Homey Smartphone App (+ Homey v2.0) and our apps.

Homey v2.0

I’m glad to say that Homey v2.0 is mostly finished. We’ve touched every line of code, made it faster, more stable and more maintainable. All that’s left to do are some small features such as more Device Pairing templates, which saves developers extra work and makes the overall user experience great.

Homey Smartphone App

The new Homey Smartphone App is still a big project that we’ve definitely underestimated. In a sense we’ve underestimated how much Homey already could do — I’d say that’s a good thing, yet a hard lesson for next time.

Nevertheless it’s making major progress. Athom Connect (the new My Athom) is already live, and the Web API client is finished. They were all prerequisites to the new app, so there’s nothing in the way of developing at maximum speed now.

While I’d love to share some screenshots, it wouldn’t do justice just yet. When we feel it’s sexy to share, we’ll share.

Labs

Another thing I’d like to share is that as of Homey v2.0 we’ll introduce a ‘Labs’ section, where feature experiments can be enabled before we decide on pursuing them or not. It makes it a lot easier, and much more fun, to develop these features and gain insight very fast if they’re worth our time.

App compatibility

All existing Homey Apps should be compatible with Homey v2.0, but developers of some older SDK1 apps might need to change the compatibility field.

Homey Apps still using SDK1 and with a /settings directory will work but the settings won’t be accessible due to improved security.

In some rare cases, devices might have a strange order of their mobile components (slider, buttons etc.) in the new app. Developers can easily change this in their app.json.

We absolutely encourage all developers to update their Homey Apps to SDK2.

Update rollout

When Homey v2.0 and the new app are ready to be released, we will initially test both updates with members of our Athom Alpha Testers Program.

Then we will release both updates to the experimental channel, which is available for all users. When everything goes right (which it definitely will not, but we’ll release updates in the meantime), Homey v2.0 will be released to the Stable channel and the new Homey Smartphone App will be published in the Google Play and iOS App Store.

There’s something special, though. The Homey v2.0 update will not be installed automatically like every other update. The update can only be installed by manually checking for updates and confirming the installation. Because we are changing some major features (most prominently simplification of Homey Music and the removal of the Homey Desktop App), we do not want to force this update to anyone.

In the meantime Homey users still running pre-2.0 software will receive multiple e-mails and a notification in the Homey Desktop App explaining what’s changed and how to prevent automatic installation. After two months since Homey v2.0 has been released in the Stable channel, the update will then finally be installed automatically, unless automatic updates have been disabled.

We think this way everyone has maximum control over their Homey.

Microcontroller

The microcontroller firmware is nearing completion. We’ve found a lot of nasty bugs that have been squashed, and added tools to improve the wireless range of 433 MHz and 868 MHz over time.

This project took longer than expected because some code frameworks we used weren’t up to our quality standards.

After the new software has been thoroughly tested, we’ll write an in-depth Behind the Magic post about the background of this project.

— Emile

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