In what will certainly disappoint many consumers, an update to the Philips Hue system has blocked access to many third-party smart bulbs, including GE Link LED and Cree Connected LED. According to an announcement from Philips, the company is seeing “an increasing number of interoperability issues with these untested third party products, which are causing increasing confusion for our installed base.”
Part of the problem lies in setup and resetting of the bulbs. Having tested multiple smart home bridges over the past few months, I can attest to the face that nearly every smart bulb manufacturer programs their devices with different reset procedures. This is certainly bound to cause confusion for those with limited technical knowledge, and could easily hamper efforts on Philips’ part to increase their installed user base.
According to Philips, the problem doesn’t just involve differences in setup and resetting. The company claims to have encountered issues over the years including lights not turning off when the bridge fades them out, problems with reachability reporting, lights not reacting correctly to scene recalls, and lights that prevent the proper functioning of the Philips Hue Wireless Dimmer Switch.
Lights already linked to Philips Hue bridges will continue to function, according to the announcement, but new bulbs from third-party manufacturers will not be able to be added to the network. If you delete a bulb or reset your Philips Hue bridge, you could also experience problems adding the lights back to your system.
To help bring third-party products back into the Philips Hue fold, the company has launched a new initiative. Called the “Friends of Hue” program, it will allow Philips to certify and test third-party products “to guarantee a consistent and long-term interoperable experience also for these products.” This is a wise move on Philips’ part, but I have to wonder what’s causing the problems beyond the setup and reset confusion.
While I’ve never used Philips Hue, I have tested Belkin’s WeMo products, Wink, and Samsung SmartThings. I’ve used a mixed bag of bulbs including Belkin’s WeMo Smart LED lighting, Osram’s Lightify, and Cree Connected LED bulbs. I’ve never encountered any problems with those various bridges, so what are these manufacturers doing that’s different from Philips? It’s mysterious, and I hope Philips finds a solution quickly that will enable the Hue bridge to work well with third-party products again.