Your smarthome devices may be working properly now, but at any time, a forced update or a change made by the manufacturer could potentially damage your device, either temporarily or permanently. And you can not do anything about it.
Most classic smarthome devices in the market rely on cloud connectivity, which means they have to be connected to the Internet and keep in touch with the manufacturer's servers to receive updates and assistance. It's both a blessing and a curse, but most of all a curse.
It all starts with occasional server hiccups
You will set your smart thermostat from your phone and you will see a nice little message "The server is down" instead of all the commands you would normally see. This gives you a little insight into what I'm talking about.
You tell yourself that you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your smart thermostat. You should be able to communicate locally with your phone's thermostat. Unfortunately, this is not how it works, and it's a great example of why smart cloud-based products can be frustrating.
Even if you can communicate locally with your device and the hardware and software are there for that, you must always have an external connection to the manufacturer's servers. And if this connection is interrupted for any reason, then farewell remote access.
Updates and patches could damage your devices
Some devices allow you to download updates whenever you want, but other devices do it automatically, whether you like it or not. And it's not uncommon for a forced update to cause unexpected problems, whether for a small number or for all users of the service.
This is what happened recently with the Logitech Harmony hub, where Logitech automatically updated the firmware hubs to fix security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, this access to the API was broken, which meant that any integrations that users had configured with the Hub no longer worked.
Logitech made sense to provide users with a means of re-enable access to the API at the local endbut all of this ended up being a huge headache for Harmony Hub users.
This can happen to any Smarthome cloud-based device you own. And what makes matters worse is when it happens on a device you rely on a lot, like a video doorbell or smart lights.
Companies can close and make their products useless
When you buy and set up a compact cloud-based product that needs to be connected to the manufacturer's servers, you're at the mercy of that company.
In other words, a company may decide that maintaining one of its products is not viable for its business strategy. They decide to stop using the product and no longer support it, screwing the customer by leaving them a paperweight instead of a product for which they paid a lot.
It happened with Lighthouse and their security cameras, as good as Hub Revolv owned by Nest. More recently, Lowe's officially close his Iris Smarthome platform for goodprobably due to declining interest and weak sales. This meant that users with an Iris system at home were virtually screwed down and ended up with hubs that were no longer working (although peripherals and sensors can still work with other hubs). Fortunately, Lowe's offers refunds to Iris customers, but not all companies that stop products are so friendly.
So what am I supposed to do?
Although you can not do anything to prevent this from happening, you can do something to at least mitigate the risk of this happening.
For starters, stick to the manufacturers and brands that have been around for a while, which are at least quite popular and have a solid reputation. Of course, this is not 100% foolproof, but most companies that stop a smart device or service do so because it is not popular, which does not generate enough revenue to keep it viable .
The Smarthome brands like Nest, Ring, Ecobee, Philips Hue, Arlo and WeMo are all very popular brands with a huge user base. These brands have a reputation to defend and it would be very unlikely to close one in the near future.
RELATED: You do not need a smart thermostat
Of course, there is a saying that every dynasty will eventually fall, so it is possible that one or the other of the above marks will stop. It's up to you to take that risk or not.
Secondly, what most enthusiasts of the world of smarthome recommend to do is simply not to buy or use a smarthome product that is based on the cloud. The disadvantage is that most of these types of products are not as easy to set up and almost all novices in this category will not be bothered.
However, several companies (such as AccueilSeer and Hubitat) are doing their best to help end users set up a smart home locally. Unfortunately, it's even more tempting to buy and configure products like a Nest Thermostat, a bell, a Hue, and a Wi-Fi camera.