Homey Community Forum

Athom's Decision for Mobile First and removing of the Desktop Interface/WEB UI in Homey v2.0.0


#43

I did read this topic.
IMO this says enough.
If Athom is taking there users seriously they have to bring back the webinterface or at least a good tablet version.
How good the app will be, it never reach the abilities on a computer (overview, keyboard, Etc.)

I’m really frustrated about this subject, because Homey is a nice product. No webIF makes it almost impossible to keep using Homey for me.
I’l stay on 1.5.13 as long as possible and not having a good working user interface.


#44

I have been testing the app but there are so many usability things missing in the app which the WEBinterface did had. But the biggest issue i do have is that the usability of the app is so much more time consuming.

Things that athom should fix in the app if want to win it from the WEBIF.

FLIPPING THROUGH THE DIFFERENT OPTION OF THE CARD
SUPER BIG thing is when you add a card that you can’t flip through the different card options.
You first have to remove the card and add it back with the new card settings, very very time consuming.
Flipping through the card save, test and adjust when needed, was super handy.

TESTING of a FLOW
When you try to test the flow, you cant give some parameters/values with your test, that used to be a very handy option to test certain situations quickly.

WHEN AND THAN COLUMNS:
This new swiping to see the cards in the WHEN AND THAN columns feature is not well thought through.
Probably thought by a designer thinking this looks nice animated, but thats what we are not waiting for.
Should have been a list which fits in the screen and when you add more cards it becomes scroll-able.
Dragging a card from an WHEN to a AND or THAN column was super handy. This not possible anymore…or yet.
Think this will have impact on future development and usability.

TAGS:
I wonder when tags are integrated if you can drag tags from certain cards from one Action Column to the other Column into a TEXTFIELD.
The WEBif also had problems dragging tags into the textfields, When you placed it wrong you could not move it, you had to delete the tag and try it again in your text.
When making a small mistake the tag was gone was also a common issue.
I actually wonder if they are able to solve this tags issue in the app, this should have been integrated already after 2 years of development.


#45

Meanwhile I regret having done the update.

Using Homey is no fun at all anymore, regardless of the still existing bugs.

From the beginning I was skeptical about the mobile only approach and unfortunately my skepticism proved to be justified. The nice look of the new app can’t hide the cumbersome creation of flows. A real step backwards.

A real pity because I like Homey very much. Now I have to keep my eyes open for alternatives.


#46

I like to have good mobile app for the most of things like adding, removing or control devices. Creating simple flows and starting flows.
But for more creative flows a desktop device is much better. I wish for a responsive web app which runs on all devices.


#47

I know Athom has announced this 1,5 years ago and I also saw how incredibly stubborn they are about this… I haven’t tried the new app yet since I haven’t checked if all my apps are upgradeable yet…

But I do know I only really use the desktop app for configuring… and I really do not see how I could easily do this on a mobile or tablet, no matter how great they make the app…

I will see how this plays out in the next months but as I see it now I will ditch Homey / Athom completely if this is the road ahead… Very dissapointing. I have Homey since the start and I love it a lot. But if they make configuring so much harder, I’m leaving.


#48

If a web gui does not come from athom or the community then i will get rid of the homey. The mobile app is fine for fine tuning but for manage lots of flows it’s just not user friendly.


#49

I accidentally stumbled over this video the other day which talks about why entusiast brands (like homey) will ultimately “betray” the entusiasts (us): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJgTKx-rg18

I think athom is facing something similar.
They are trying to compete in a more and more crowded market. In addition to this they have already “sold their product” to most enthusiasts already, yes there will most likely be a homey hardware 2.0 (with hopefully more RAM) soon but thats not going to cover the cost of all the infrastructure required to run the cloud version of homey indefinitely.

And thus they need to appeal to a bigger audience, and looking at the competition today you will find apple, google, philips and even Ikea. which build products geared towards a completely different market group.
I have a bunch of google home, and I love them but they will never be able to support “my smart home” (as I want to tinker and make cool, but pointless things, I probably have more flows then devices in my homey).
But most non-entusiasts don’t want to do that, they want to easily control the light bulbs, build some simple commands like turn on the lights when they get home and for that a mobile app is fine (it is even better).
And unfortunately for us for athom to have a viable business model (especially as they move more and more towards a cloud based solution) they most likely need to pivot towards a broader audience and that I think means dumbing down the application (or as they put it going mobile only)…

Now I, personally, think that this will fail as competing with google and apple will take a tremendous amount of resources, unless they are just hoping to build position to get a hefty offer from a competitor?

I have contacted support (as from what I read athom do not read this forum) asking for a refund but currently they claim I bought it “as is” (interesting choice of words as the “is” bit is changing) and am thus not eligible for a refund.
Perhaps if more people contact support they will at-least offer some form of refund program for dissatisfied customers.


#50

Watching the video I remembered Pebble and Nextbit that I loved and was so sad that they got bought and consumed by big companies and destroyed in the process. I really hope that won’t happen to Athom and Homey but they are in danger. All it takes are a chunk of adopters who love the product, review and tell about it on Reddit/Facebook and other media to turn away from Athom and for it to loose credibility and favour from current customers. Who will buy the product if existing customers have issue with it? Think about it.
We don’t have issue with Homey, but Athom shouldn’t be so stubborn about some things.


#51

Just got a reply back from athom support.

They will refuse refunds, and don’t seem to care that I cannot use a phone to configure my Homey.
Or as they put it

Note that our Terms and Conditions, which you have accepted, explicitly state that Homey is sold as is, without future warrantees for updates.

Thats customer service for you I guess…

The somewhat good new is that they also say:

We can guarantee [the current web UI] keeps working. In case there is a severe security issue we will have to take a look at our update policy, as we leave Homey 1.5.13 working as it is now

Which means unless we opt-in we are suposed be able to run the old version which will at least function as-is.
My guess though that despite what they claim it will become opt-out eventually to stay off 2.0.

I am pretty happy with Homey as-is so I probably will keep on that version as long as possible.
Only real issues I have is the google home integration which is terrible and the lack of support for custom zigbee and z-wave features none of which has been fixed in the 2.0 update…

Still I would recommend people who want a web interface/desktop interface to raise support issues as at least then athom will be forced to face the fact that som current customers are dissatisfied.


#52

I just really hope Athom doesn’t back down from this decision. The way I see it, it is definitely the way forward, and will cater to a much larger audience (especially in the future). As long as they don’t close down APIs and make it a closed platform, I see only benefits with the team being able to focus only on the native apps. Let web interfaces be built by the community if there’s a need for it.

I’m a bit worried they only see the negative feedback though, and that’s why I’m writing this. Athom, please remember you have a large userbase which really likes this decision, and don’t let the ones screaming loudest dictate terms. I’ve seen it happen before - a company makes a bold move (in this case, it isn’t even particularly bold), but then backs down due to backlash. The problem is that very few satisfied people writes forum posts.

Keep it up Athom!


#53

Well, it’s a bit like buying a car with a manual gearbox, and with the next service moment the garage is builds in automatic gearbox, and tells you afterwards that if you really want a manual gearbox, you should build it yourself. Sure, you’ll be offered the choice of keeping the old gearbox, but if you do they won’t service your car anymore.

And I do not really see how ditching the web interface will attract a larger audience. I agree a better smartphone app was much needed, but not as a replacement for the web interface, but as an addition. So to attrack more customer an awsome phone app should be developed, but along side a working web interface for those who need it.


#54

It will definitely cater to a much larger audience, but that’s an audience that is different from the current one. People that might have a few dozen flows as most, and use a limited number of devices. Do you think that Homey can compete in such a market? I can already do limited automation with a limited amount of devices using HomeKit on my iDevices, why would I need Homey for that?

By limiting the more complex possibilities that Homey can provide, you alienate the power users. And it happens to be that a lot of those power users are also app developers. At some point, if Homey can’t provide a satisfying experience to those users, they might move away to something more powerful, leaving their apps in a deprecated state, limiting the Homey platform even more.

Since the mobile app, for a large part, consists of web technology, why not open source it so the community can use it as a base for a web interface?


#55

I generally support all on the mobile app and have nothing against it.

Were I see Athom will close it’s door with this is system integrators. Companies that have to support 10-20-50-100 homey deployments. Until now they would use PC, connect to that homey from office PC, do additional config or change req and of they go. Now, over a tablet, 20-30 devices? Maybe…

I’m saying this as I’ve been asked to support deployment of 8 Homey devices in new in construction building. Cool, I will give them support as this is pilot for them. How to support other devices, will see. I personally can give them hands on but they will have to mange that after with tablets and mobile phones.


#56

Agree , mobile UI doesn’t allow scale


#57

Hmm, maybe, but you could also argue the complete opposite - they provided you with an automatic gearbox which is what every new car has, manual gearboxes are going away anyway and they want to make sure your car stays recent and up to date. I’d rather buy that car than a car which the manufacturer leaves “as is” with no upgrades or improvements.

I think the problem is that they are a small team with limited resources, and they simply can’t support both. They have to be focused and do one thing well rather than two things poorly. The native app was really bad, and if Homey 2.0 wouldn’t have come along I would have ditched it and looked for something that felt more modern and up-to-date. I think most new users would have. The options were probably 1) slowly let Homey die, supporting a dinosaur Desktop app and a web interface, or 2) make a transition and hope to attract new customers. Their current business model means they have to sell new Homeys to new customers, or they won’t make any money. Perhaps a third option would’ve been to add some kind of subscription model, but I’m not sure if that would’ve been received any better.

As I wrote in the reply to Le_Cactus, I don’t think they had much choice. They don’t make any money on existing customers (they have no subscription model), so they need new customers. New customers aren’t attracted to a poor native app and an old Desktop app, so they don’t get many new customers. They don’t have the resources to support native and web and desktop. I guess time will tell if they can compete in this market, but I really hope so - I think Homey has a few things which all the other platforms lack: 1) an open, developer-friendly attitude and API, 2) support for several home automation standards in the same device, and 3) a UX-friendly and modern native experience. It’s more niche than Homekit, but it’s not as hardcore as Home Assistant on your own Raspberry Pi; it’s somewhere in between.

That is a very good point! I don’t see why they couldn’t open source the client - they can still keep the core as closed source.

A good point, but I don’t think Homey is meant for large-scale installations. It is geared towards tinkerers and enthusiasts, with the recent 2.0 making it a bit more user-friendly and available to a wider audience. I’d hate for it to become some big enterprisy-thing rather than what it is today.

EDIT: Merged replies into one post as the forum told me to do so :smile:


#59

NOBODY WRITES PROGRAMS ON A PHONE.

It is a very STUPID mistske to drop the desktop for managing a non trivial home automation system.

But it appears that homey is only aiming at small trivial home automation systems.- the current implementation of the software on the homey device grinds to a halt if you use many different hardware sources.

the original concept of supporting many different home automation devices is what made me decide for homey rather than something like Fibaro’s system.

Homey was nearly unique in this aspect.

The hardware is now too limited to drive a full functioning home system.

Homey needs a more powerfull unit, qua CPU, memory and storage and external ports USB? to enable additional hardware to be added. A destop interface and and a tablet interface for managing it is essential.

Personally I would be prepared to pay a yearly fee to ensure the product snd software can be a commercial success.

As it currently looks I think i shall start looking for alternative platform. I was an eary adopter of Homey, do not regret it, but probsbly its time to move on.

Martin Dobson , a retitred software developer for 40 years


#60

My $0.02

I Support Software direction of Homey

I was a Homeseer user for about 2 years, very very functional but lacked real cloud integrations and didn’t have a modern user experience that wouldn’t attract new customers.

Came across Homey and was very impressed , bought one straight away

  • great hardware platform
  • excellent software integrations
  • active community

The Desktop app was good for taking a big picture view of the possibilities and making a lot of things happen quickly. I found it easy to translate ideas into flows very quickly.

Agree with the business decision to focus and simplify the software development side of things. There’s only son much time, people and money to go around. Any business has to make tough decisions like this to stay alive.

Consumer, Prosumer and Professional markets will always have different requirements and you can’t always be everything to everyone.

I consider myself prosumer and have found the mobile model harder to adjust to purey from being efficient with creating my flows.

Why have the App at all for ‘config’ items and create a web based “drag and drop” for flows? Pure web interface for flows would be simple compared to “apps” , I assume?

Option 1) Stick with 1.15, functional and easy for what I need but no progress
Option 2) throw in the towel and start the journey again. (I started with a Vera, ninja sphere, homeseer and now Homey), “a bit of change fatigue”
Option 3) with the right elements at the core of Homey and just needing to find a way to improve flow creation efficiency, stick with it and contribute to the community.

I’m going with Opt 3 for now and look forward to progress from the team.

Happy to help out also, I’m not a software developer but can “hack stuff together” or do lots of testing.


#61

Well to start I’m not a long time user of Homey, just a couple of months, but thought I’d chirp in anyway.
I don’t see any reason to not focus on mobile only. To dedicate resources to developing for both a mobile app and desktop interface is a waste of time and resources. I’ve seen numerous systems programming UI’s and can see that Homeys can very easily be adpated and function just as well on a tablet. And I say tablet not phone.
While a phone Flow programmer is awfully convenient and great for adding or modifying an existing flow, it should by no means be the sole form of programming a homey system. But it is needed none the less. Trust me, I’ve recently come from Zipato who have no option of adding even a simple timer program to the system. This is where the Tablet version really comes into play. You can very easily have the same layout that currently exists wihin the desktop program UI now on an android or IOS 10" tablet. Complete with 2 finger zoom, or better yet cast the screen to something larger if need be.
This direction will keep developing costs and time down. I know the Homey app developers are used to using a computer for such things, I know I prefer it, but to be honest, this form of programming is the future. Get on board. As long as Homey release a good Tablet version with similar Flow editor UI to current Desktop application, I see absolutely no reason to look back. It’s going to great to program a job with only a tablet and s pen.


#62

Well I totally agree with the upgraded hardware that is needed. I would go even further with a proper Integrator version, with upgraded specs, external aerials and connection for the NFC reader and 3 IR extenders. Add an SD card slot for users to expand the systems memory, make the enclosure flat and square. And to top it off, make multiple Homeys communicate with each other over IP LAN
But for the programming side, I honestly don’t see the need. I’ve used numerous other systems, and yes, they need a desktop application. But Homeys is simple, very simple in comparison,.and can easily be programmed on a 10 inch tablet. Complete with pen or just a larger tablet would be even better. You want to develop? Yes, a browser interface can be used, but for using the simple Flow editor, no way. The same layout that currently exists in the desktop app can easily be achieved in tablet form, and this saves so much time and money for Homey and also the end user or installer.
What would make the system faster and perform better would be a Pro version of the Homey. Not keeping the current Desktop app.


#63

The to be honest. Ditch the entire app. It provides zero added value over a properly working web interface. (push messages and/or geofencing could be handled via IFTTT or other mechanisms if people would want to use that it). A singular web interface that works on ‘all devices’ (within reason of course) is less to maintain than one iOS app and one Android app (people who have Windows phone or another type, simply won’t be able to use their Homey anymore and have a 300 euro plastic ball in their house)

One of the very annoying things of how Athom communicates. They are actively crippling the usability of their product and look how they still advertise themselves via their website:
https://www.athom.com/en/homey/flow/ - That still shows their desktop app (they should make a remark that it isn’t supported in the near future)
https://www.youtube.com/user/athomnl/videos - These videos also still show the desktop app and even the voice-recognition stuff which they the never managed to get to a workable level, and will drop support of entirely (I don’t care personally, but at least stop advertising with it)
https://firmware.athom.com/ --> For the 2.0.0 rcX version, they show that the version has some (temporary) limits, but forget to add info that the desktop app/web interface it is no longer supported. Not every user reads their ‘Behind the magic’ (e.g. the ‘good news newspaper’) newsletter and was aware that they stopped supporting the desktop app (you could see this on the forum here)

(( edit - My mistake - I just saw they do have the info on their firmware page now ))