Your Expensive Smart Appliance May Not Last A Decade

A brain hovering in front of a smart fridge
Sebastian Kaulitzki / Shutterstock

When you buy a new device, you make an investment that should take a while, but that may not be true for smart devices. Manufacturers do not have to keep your machine up to date, which could make your investment unfortunate.

The devices are expected to last for decades

Today, many houses equipped with refrigerators, stoves and washing machines date back to the 80s. These devices may not look as good as before, and they probably inflate electricity bills but they are reliable and easy to repair. Some of these devices can survive for ten or twenty years. So it's fair to assume that a new device will last for decades, right?

It depends on what you buy. Let's say that you have invested in a smart device, like the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator or a LG intelligent air conditioning unit. You might have bought a cheaper device, maybe even a refurbished 2000s device. But you (correctly) consider that the functions of a smart device are a major selling point and a worthwhile investment .

Well, it is possible that your expensive smart device will become mute in less than a decade.

You replace your phones and tablets quite often

Remember fixed lines? They tend to take a long time and you do not need to replace them unless you want a voicemail receiver or a cordless phone. But cell phones are another story. According to a Gallup poll, 44% of Americans replace their cell phones every two years and most phones become obsolete after five or six years.

People do not complain too much about having to buy a new phone every few years, especially because they do not have a lot of choice. Smartphones regularly need new hardware and software to keep pace, and old computers tend to slow down. Not to mention the protection of privacy, people are more and more concerned and older phones may be more vulnerable to hacking attempts.

If you consider the fact that smart devices are designed as smartphones and tablets and are designed to work in tandem with smartphones and tablets, that raises a question. Will smart devices need to be replaced every five or six years? Obviously, your smart refrigerator will not stop producing cold air just because its smart features are obsolete. But if you deposit thousands of dollars on a smart refrigerator that can not stay smart, the problem is serious.

Firmware updates are already uneven

3d illustration of the CPU on the bottom of the circuit board
Connect the world / Shutterstock

The first wave of smart devices came to market less than a decade ago, but companies are already showing that they are not interested in publishing firmware updates. And many of these appliances come on the market with rushed and underdeveloped software, so people are already finding smart appliances that are not so smart.

LG sold its brand of smart appliances (stoves, air conditioners, washing machines, etc.) promising to work with Google Home, but early US users claimed that their devices Can not sign in to Google Home. They also complained that LG would not offer any assistance to solve the problem.

People who bought the first-generation Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator have had to constantly ask Samsung for firmware updates. While new refrigerators came packaged with an updated user interface and a Bixby virtual assistant, the old refrigerators were stuck with an older version of the firmware for months. Family Hub users have complained about having unable to use the Google Calendar app in 2014, and Samsung decided not to fix the problem until 2017.

You could infer that companies are eager to grow in the smart device market. But companies are already asking companies to release firmware updates for their relatively new devices. Would these companies post updates if people did not complain? Do they have to publish updates?

Are updates not guaranteed by a warranty?

When you spend thousands of dollars on a smart appliance, you should expect the manufacturer to publish firmware updates. Where applicable, firmware updates should be warranted in the warranty. After all, if your smart appliance stops working properly because it requires a firmware or hardware update, is not it the manufacturer's fault?

Let's take a look at the Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator. It costs $ 4,000, has a giant screen and is by far the most popular luxury smart device on the market. Samsung is very clear that its smart refrigerator is receiving firmware updates. Refrigerators warn you when updates are available, there are some information pages and new ads on the Samsung website. In addition, the Family Hub owner's manual details how to update the refrigerator. But none of these sources guarantees that updates will be published in the future.

It makes sense that there is no product warranty on these pages. But what about the guarantee? Samsung warranty for the Family Hub Smart Refrigerator makes no mention of any firmware updates or any upgrades to the smart hardware services of the refrigerator. Their warranty really only covers the "refrigerator" part of your smart refrigerator.

I've also been chatting with a "Samsung Care Pro" to try and find all the documents to guarantee Samsung's firmware updates. At the beginning of the conversation, the rep told me, "Yes, the fridge will get the updates." I supported it a little longer and, after 10 minutes of waiting, he told me that "there is no written work regarding the updates . "

When you consider that manufacturers are unwilling to provide or guarantee firmware updates, it is clear that they do not plan to provide updates indefinitely and that you can not do anything if your smart appliance ceases. to be smart. It is safe to assume that manufacturers will always focus more on their new products. As a result, as new smart devices come on the market, they will lag behind.

Smart devices that do not receive updates are easier to hack

It's no secret that smart appliances for the home are easy to hack. Some vendors release updates to fix vulnerabilities, but we know that most manufacturers have trouble issuing firmware updates. And because warranties do not guarantee firmware updates, it's not unreasonable to think that your expensive smart appliances may not receive a fix or security enhancement in ten years.

So as your smart, easy-to-hack appliance ages, it becomes even more vulnerable. Many of these devices are equipped with cameras, microphones and data gathering algorithms, hacking vulnerabilities are a major concern of privacy.

But using appliances with outdated firmware is not a privacy issue; these old smart appliances could compromise your entire home network. In an effort to make the Internet more secure, the Wi-Fi alliance has unveiled WPA3, the new standard of Wi-Fi security. The world will slowly shift to WPA3 and many routers will use WPA3 alongside WPA2, the old security standard, so older devices can still connect to the Internet .

You will end up with a router that, by default, only supports WPA3 security standards. And that's a good thing, because WPA2 connections are becoming less and less secure. However, if your smart appliance uses older firmware, it may not be able to connect to a WPA3 signal. If you want to use this old device, you will need to adjust your router's settings to support WPA2, a choice that will make you an easy target for hackers.

Think smart TV

Smart devices are relatively new and you will not find them in most homes. In reality, 64% of consumers are not even aware that smart refrigerators even exist. On the other hand, 37.2% By the end of 2018, every American household had at least one smart TV. Smart TVs are so ubiquitous that a simple "TV" search on Amazon leads you to: dozens of pages smart TVs.

Since smart TVs are much more popular than smart kitchen appliances, they are a good reference point for determining the life of these devices and the problems they may face. You may not think of a TV as an appliance, but its operation is similar to that of a smart device. The "smart" aspect does not change the entire function of the device, but it is a major selling point that requires Wi-Fi connectivity and firmware updates to stay up-to-date.

Smart TVs have notoriously cumbersome interfaces and rarely receive useful updates. In fact, it seems that manufacturers are more interested in updates than force people to see ads than anything that improves performance or security. And like smart devices, smart TVs are vulnerable to piracyHowever, manufacturers tend to avoid the problem and not really try to fix the vulnerabilities.

Smart TVs become obsolete so quickly that this is not uncommon For people to have a Roku, Chomecast or Amazon Firestick plugged into their smart TV, an ironic destiny spell that makes you think of why people are selling smart TVs (hint: they are more profitable because of the crapware). And if this rapid obsolescence occurs on television, it is possible that this also happens for smart devices.

Why would a company sell a device that will not last a decade?

Companies selling smart devices know their products will not stand the test of time. Manufacturers like Samsung and LG have been selling smart phones for years and devices for even longer. They know that they associate a relatively disposable product with a product that is supposed to work for decades. Why would they turn off the appliances that would become obsolete?

Well, on the one hand, luxury smart devices occupy a relatively untapped market. If a company beats its competitors in this market, its applications and software could become an integral part of people's lives. Getting smart appliances in homes is the hardest part and buyers will have no choice but to call on the makers of these devices later. "Move fast and break objects," said a mogul.

But what if companies decide not to maintain smart appliances? It has only been a few years since these products were released and manufacturers do not seem ready to release full firmware updates. People can start replacing their refrigerators and dishwashers in the same way that they replace their cell phones, which would be very lucrative for businesses. Maybe people will feel ripped off and start giving up the bad marks. We will have to wait and discover.

What we want from manufacturers

disgusted young man looking at his laptop
pathdoc / Shutterstock

Even if a company like Samsung starts deploying firmware updates for smart appliances or sending employees to replace obsolete equipment, it will be difficult to keep your smart appliances running the way they should. At the present time, the "smart" appearance of your smart devices is as vulnerable to the time as your smartphone. So, how can manufacturers address this problem?

Remember smart TVs? They are clumsy, vulnerable and their "smart" features are quickly becoming obsolete. But you can easily fix the problem by plugging in a cheap device, such as a Chromecast or a Roku. And because plug-in streaming devices are inexpensive and easy to replace, consumers do not feel the need to replace their TVs as often as their cell phones.

Like a smart TV, a smart refrigerator or a washing machine are the main problem of its hardware and software "smart". They are difficult to manage and can quickly become obsolete. The screens, the cameras, the thermometers, the microphones and the speakers are not in question.

So here is my proposal.

Manufacturers should add a port to their expensive smart devices, allowing you to plug in a cheap (Chromecast-like) device every two years to keep it up-to-date. These small devices also support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, eliminating the need for your old device to fail to meet security standards.

This system will make consumers more confident in their investments, it will provide manufacturers with a steady income from their smart devices (without ripping off people) and will encourage technology nerds to manage most of the device platforms. Boom, everyone is happy. But if companies decide to implement this idea, they'd better pay me for it.

When they work, smart devices are perfect

This is not a tirade against smart devices. They have the potential to make life easier for us and have captured the imagination of many people. You can use them to remotely browse recipes, watch videos while cooking, or view the contents of your refrigerator on your phone. But manufacturers need to build smart devices that can withstand the test of time. Hope your future home will not be filled with pirated, obsolete and frustrating machines. But there is a chance that this is the case.

sources: Google Help Forum, Reviewed, Samsung, Digital trends, Extremetech

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