Take control of Philips Hue smart bulbs
You geeked out. You showed your friends how crazy it is that you can make the living room purple using your phone. But now, the novelty has worn off and you're wondering, "Why did I buy this again?"
Because the Philips Hue is so much more than a glorified light bulb. In the latest release of the Hue software (coming to Android by October), Philips added a slew of innovative features that finally make the Hue as useful as it is fun.
Before you can enjoy all of the Hue's features, you'll have to set up remote access. The quick configuration will let you control your lights from anywhere, and allow your phone to interact with the portal even when it's not on the Wi-Fi network.
Setup is simple:
- Launch the Hue app and swipe up from the bottom to reveal the bulb controller menu. Tap the Settings button in the upper-left corner.
- Tap Login to portal, and your browser will launch.
- If you haven't already, register for a Hue account. Otherwise, sign in with your existing account. Immediately, you'll be asked to grant the Hue remote access. Accept.
When the process is complete, head back to the Hue app, and you're set. Now you can control your lights, even when you're miles away. You've also just unlocked a bunch of awesome features. Read on.
'Hue, I'm home!'
By far one of the coolest Hue features, geofencing automagically turns your lights on when you're home; when it detects your departure, lights shut off. And you never had to touch a switch.
There are a couple ways to enable this feature. First is by modifying an existing "Scene" (one of the tiles in the app. The second is by creating a new scene. Right now, let's do the latter.
Begin by tapping the + symbol in the app to create a new scene. You'll be prompted to choose the rooms you want activated. Then, choose one of the preloaded recipes: Relax, Concentrate, Energize, or Reading. For a home arrival, Relax is a nice choice. Below that, adjust the brightness.
At the bottom of the setup screen, tap the left icon and choose "My location." You'll see a map show up with a marker indicating your location. If it's off, tap the refresh button to get a more accurate estimate. Finally, decide when the lights should turn on and off. Save the recipe.
Going forward, you'll get a notification each time the Hue detects your arrival and departure, followed by the lights turning on or off, respectively.
If you're noticing that the Hue isn't quite getting the geofencing right, adjust a couple options. First, head back to the scene and ensure that the location marker is correct. Second, on iOS, head to system settings > Hue > and change the "Geofence zone" to a wider or smaller range, depending on the app's behavior.
Wake up with the Hue
When there's light out, the human brain knows it's time to wake up, making it extra difficult to get out of bed during those dark winter months. If your regular alarm isn't cutting it, programming the Hue to light up in the morning might do the trick.
To program a new alarm, hit the + button in the app to create a new scene, and select the lights you'd like to activate. Then, choose the recipe (like Energize) and the brightness.
At the bottom, tap the button on the left and choose "Alarm." When you're setting the time, you'll see a check box option to "Randomize." If enabled, lights will turn on and off automatically at various times. It's a great feature for when you're traveling and want to foil any thieves.
Finally, choose your fade-in interval and the days. When it's set, you'll see a new icon appear in the app. When the alarm clock symbol in the icon is blue, the alarm is activated. To deactivate it, double-tap the icon.
Automating tasks with IFTTT
When it rains, the lights turn on. When my boss e-mails me, the lights flash red. And when the Lakers win a game, the lights turn purple. These are just some examples of what you get when IFTTT and the Hue get together.
IFTTT, an automation service we're fans of at How To, lets you create reactionary tasks for your Hue bulbs. To get started, head to ifttt.com/hue and click "Activate." If you don't have one already, you'll be asked to create an IFTTT account.
When your Hue and IFTTT accounts are linked up, head back to ifttt.com/hue and check out some of the awesome recipes users have already created.
What's come of it has been pretty impressive. Take Hue Disco, for example. The iOS app prompts the Hue bulbs to pulse in various colors and intervals based on you custom program, or in tune with music.
In the Google Play store, Hue Pro touts itself as a better command center than Philips' Hue app, letting users create alarms and timers, and even including a widget for quick lighting control.
The selection of third-party apps leaves quite a bit to be desired, but keep an eye on this space as more developers find creative ways to use the Hue bulbs.