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Athom Blog

The official blog by Athom, creators of Homey

Behind the Magic – May 2018

Posted on June 1, 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.

May was a busy month for us, and we had little time to share what we’ve been up to. I’d like to shed some light on where our focus has been, how things are progressing, and what the future holds.

About deadlines…

But first I’d like to talk a little meta. In the past we’ve often made the mistake of talking about estimations when we expect to have finished the development of a certain feature. Looking back to 4 years of experience, I’m convinced that it’s nearly impossible to estimate how long things will take to get right.

We are focused on the consumer market. In other words, we don’t sell hours, but a product. It is most important and maybe even a luxury for us to deliver quality, and not ship too early when ‘time’s up’.

We learned that communicating these estimates creates an unfortunate situation. Our users expect we deliver on time, and our developers are stressed out because they want to deliver a quality product. Therefore, we have decided to stop talking about time estimations altogether until we are sure a certain deadline will be made.

To bring this into practice, we will start announcing Homey v2.0 and the new Homey Smartphone App when we are sure it’s going to be finished on time. In the meantime, I’d like to ask of you to not ask us when something is finished, because simply, we don’t know. But you can assume that we’re doing everything to create quality, as fast as we can.

Homey v2.0

The largest project right now is Homey v2.0 + the new Homey Smartphone App. This is package that will be released at the same time, as they are dependent on each other.

Developing the new app is taking much longer than we anticipated. It’s mostly polish, to really create the feeling of quality we feel Homey deserves. Creating the first version (which is currently available for preview) was rather simple. Implementing the design was a completely different story, we’ve learned.

The new Homey Smartphone App will be released together with the Homey v2.0 software update, and will not work together with Homeys running software prior to v2.0.

I’ve also read on our forum that there’s misunderstanding about Homey Apps built with SDK1. Both SDK1 and SDK2 Homey Apps will work with Homey v2.0, only SDK1 apps their settings webviews won’t be available due to increased security. We still encourage developers to upgrade their SDK1 apps to SDK2, and most developers have already done so. Great job!

Homey v2.0 is a major core upgrade, which makes way for the Web API. Homey v2.0 should run faster and with fewer crashes, and introduce some new features such as Logic variable management and more device-pairing templates for developers.

Microcontroller

Another project we’re working on is an update of the Microcontroller software. The microcontroller is a separate chip on Homey that takes care of the 433 MHz and 868 MHz communication. We are doing this to create a more stable experience for both 433 MHz and 868 MHz. Additionally, the new software gives us the tools to research how to improve the transmission and receiving range of both frequencies.

Apps

Many of our apps are being rewritten to Homey Apps SDK2, mainly Z-Wave and RF apps. We have started with the largest, such as Fibaro and KlikAanKlikUit, and are working towards the smaller apps gradually.

We’ve also started working on some of our music apps, such as Spotify, to prepare them for the upcoming Homey v2.0 update where Homey Music will be replaced by a simpler version.

A new app we’ve launched this month is KNX. It’s still in bèta, and we are looking for more testers. We think that many homes with KNX (an old and expensive protocol) can be easily upgraded to Homey, where both KNX and newer devices work together in harmony.

Web API

The Web API will give 3rd party developers the opportunity to create integrations with Homey, without the need of running a Homey App. This is especially useful for alternative front-ends, speech services etc.

Before we can release this, a few steps must be completed first:

  1. Create a ‘Allow access to the following Homeys:’ dialog after logging in with your Athom Account
  2. Prepare all scopes, so only needed access is given to a 3rd party app (e.g. ‘Manage Flows’ or ‘Read Devices’)
  3. Create a front-end on Homey Apps where developers can create and publish their Web Apps.

Our priority currently is with Homey v2.0 and the new Homey Smartphone App, so it’s still unsure when we will be able to release this.

Backup & Restore

Just after Homey v2.0 we will introduce Backup & Restore, meaning a Homey’s settings can be automatically restored after set-up.

Homey Security

When we think there’s room for new features, and Homey’s stability isn’t a problem, then we will start working on Homey Security. This is a major update and will include support for IP Cams, a Security dashboard, arming/disarming your home and measuring activity in zones. More about this later.

Thank you for reading!
— Emile

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