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Homey review: the home automation hub on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

Recensione Homey: l’hub per la domotica su Android e iOS che parla con tutti e porta tutto su Homekit

We have already introduced Athy Homey in recent days as a real "Holy Grail" of home automation, able to unify Zigbee and Z-wave, Bluetooth, RadioFrequency and Infrared.

We have been trying it for more than two months and here is what we discovered in the progressive integration of all our peripherals installed in the home. For the moment we have integrated over 30 of them including sensors, controllers, valves and 26 of these we brought under the control of Homekit including the control of Fibaro roller shutters, the Evohome Honeywell valves, the Xiaomi Aqara cube controller, creating a system that we would never have imagined so "interoperable" and in the end with 75 devices in total connected under Homekit (including Hue lights, accessories Xiaomi Aqara (Zigbee), Fibaro accessories (Z-wave), Eve System accessories and lamps (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi), Living Now by Netatmo control by Bticino / Legrand which we will discuss shortly).

Here's how we did it and why Homey is radically transforming our experience of the smart Home.

package

Homey can also be purchased directly on Amazon and our version the basic one costing 299 Euros which is also available in our country. The Pro model costs 100 Euros more and has more memory for the Apps (we will see what Athom means for the App) in case you want to bring interoperability to the highest levels of tinkering and have a home automation system for a castle rather than an apartment or cottage.

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

The packaging is an absolute cube and inside we find very little material: the sphere of Homey (having a diameter of 12 cm) that of a beautiful semi-glossy white that can be placed anywhere in the house: at its equator we find a LED ring that can be lit and coloring independently to communicate as well as with the voice (there is a small internal speaker and the audio amplified via mini Jack) while at the base we find 3 small shiny steel balls as feet that prevent the ball from rolling and allow the passage power cables (with old-fashioned mini-USB socket) and amplification cables at the bottom of the gateway.

There are no other connection options except the wireless ones (it connects via Wi-Fi to your router) and to tell the truth we lack a bit of an ethernet socket for direct wiring. The Gateway can be easily moved near the peripheral devices for coupling (think of sensors and Z-wave relays inserted inside boxes or positioned at the top of the rooms like alarm sensors).

How and where Homey is installed

Being Wi-Fi based, Homey depends on the connection with your router and the efficiency of your network for Wi-Fi devices. For the Z-wave and Zigbee connection it rests on the mesh network's capabilities while for Radio Frequency (RF), Bluetooth you have to position it as close as possible to the devices to be controlled; finally, for infrared, the obligatory choice: you must have a TV or air conditioner in sight with respect to the gateway unless you use an IR extension or a Broadlink type device (RM Pro Plus or equivalent tested by Macitynet) or a special remote control such as those of Tado .

To connect it to your wi-fi network just download the Homey app for Android or iOS and connect to the 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi network to which you have already connected your existing Wi-Fi peripherals or want to connect the next. Lapp will take care of passing the access data to Homey and then, once connected to the internet controller if there are firmware updates to be applied. Once this is done you will be ready to add APP and peripherals. Below the installation sequence.

During all these operations, Homey communicates with the user through the equatorial LED ring and changes from the initial green to orange during the start-up and update phase. Then the LED will go out and can be turned on or programmed according to a series of functions that can also illustrate the conditions of the humidity time or the forecast of the day: a nice way to communicate in addition to the voice interface (but only in one sense, in the new Homey not c microphone).

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

In the end I will have to fill in the classic voices on privacy and finally download the file for the voice I prefer (there are various options) with male or female vocal timbre. Now we are ready for the APP.

What are Homey APPs

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to HomekitFrom a software point of view, the gateway has a modular structure such as that of open source domotic tools such as Domoticz and Home Assistentant and this allows it to be as flexible as possible from the point of view of compatibility.

Apps are mainly of two types: the basic ones developed directly by Homey producers and those additional that come from third party developers always with the criterion open source, in some cases it is the companies themselves that delegate to a third party the possibility of creating a bridge, a bridge with their peripherals to facilitate their sale.

Once Homey has been updated during the installation phase, we are ready to install our first Apps which may be those of the house to manage new Zigbee, Z-wave and Infrared devices (collected under the Homey icon): we may have the insertion, for Zigbee and Z-wave in low to basic inclusion procedures and for Infrared based on brand and model (e.g. Philips or Samsung TV, Daikin air conditioner etc).

With the basic procedures it may be possible that not all the characteristics of a given brand are exploited and thus specific apps designed for a series of products come to our aid: for example the Fibaro app it shows us a whole series of compatible relays, controlled sockets, RGBW control systems, commands for roller shutters based on Z-wave that we can include in our system, the same thing happens for the economic peripherals Zigbee of Xiaomi Aqara, the Zigbee lights of Osram and those of Philips: some of them with their intermediate gateway such as Hue or some directly like the Osram lamps and sockets directly in the Zigbee.

Then there is the possibility of directly managing data Radio Frequency commands as the commands of for SomfyThe third group of peripherals are those that already have their own Wi-Fi based gateway: in this case Homey works a bit like Alexa and Google Assistant work: it accesses the relative gateway by passing the data through the control application.

Precedence to privacy and local use

There is a basic difference with what Google Home and Google Assistant and Amazon Echo and Alexa do: data and commands are managed directly on Homey and must not go through the servers that interpret (and listen) your factual voice without the cloud these products cannot be controlled while Homey can directly manage the Zigbee, Z-wave and radio frequency home automation devices.This does not exclude that if you want you can use Alexa and Google Assistant (currently only in English) or Siri (also in Italian – let's see how) to control them but in this case you will have to go from the web.

The other difference is the automations: at the moment the automations of Alexa and Google Assistant are decidedly limited while i Flow of Homey are very powerful and can also be based on many parameters of virtual sensors and complex calculations. Furthermore, in the Homey flows you have the condition and that is absent in Alexa: this allows you to stop an automation when a particular condition occurs. But we will talk about automations later.

Let's try apps and devices

Here we have two ways to go: vwe choose to use Homey for a completely new system or for integrate existing products and add new onesIn the first ideal case, to choose products based on Zigbee or Z-wave possibly of max two or three manufacturers, perhaps integrating Philips Hue, Osram, Ikea Tradfri for the lights and going fishing in the Z-wave world for managing shutters and / or multifunction sensors (Fibaro, Philio, Qubino), for the Thermostats and the valves we will choose models with Wi-Fi router and any internal protocol, sure that Homey will manage practically everything from Nest to Netatmo to Honeywell.

If you have iOS make sure that the gateway of the proprietary systems still ends up on Homekit (and this you can do with many of the brands mentioned).

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

In case like ours that you already have several home automation devices, check the App section of the Homey website which are compatible today: it is possible that some devices do not have updated software on the Homey side for a series of problems related to protocol change and version hardware and software from version 1.0 to 2.0: the development in continuous evolution and keep in mind that Homey 2.0 in circulation for a few months.

For our test, which started two months ago upon returning from MWC2019, we began adding the peripherals of our system, the result of years of testing with different protocols that are often incompatible with each other and that needed different applications on our smartphone and this led to the impossibility of creating complex automation that involved them all: this is in fact the main quality of Homey which brings different protocols and devices under one App making them work together.

Below is a diagram (zoomable image) showing how Homey works for direct connection to peripherals, gateways and how it is managed by Homekit and voice assistants.

The homey super gateway home automation now exposes Z-Wave, Zigbee, IR and RF on Google Assistant in Italian

As you will see from the screenshots below we have brought under Homey our controls for shutters and single and double relays, the socket and Fibaro Z-wave sensors that we previously managed with a Fibaro gateway and a Vera Edge, the Philio Z-wave sensors that were seen from the Vera Edge, the Philips Hue (Zigbee) lights, Osram Zigbee lights and sockets, a Samsung TV managed directly with Homey's infrared, a Hive thermostat with dual management temperature based on Wi-Fi, a Netatmo weather station (Wi-Fi ) and, last but not least: the Honeywell Evohome thermostatic valve + thermostat system that communicates with a proprietary 868 GHz radio and still connected to the web via Wi-Fi.

But the greatest satisfaction also in view of further purchases was that of being able to integrate the very cheap peripherals of Xiaomi Aquara in the various declinations including the multifunctional Cube Aqara based on Zigbee that can work for a fantastic combination of actions, macros and behaviors. (See below in the description of the Flows / automations)

In addition to the physical products, it is possible to add apps to create virtual sensors combined, for example, with detections and weather forecasts to be used within our automations.

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

How does it all integrate?

Simple, go to the list of Apps, choose the brand you want to integrate, search for the accessory that you already have at home or that you want to buy and check if it is compatible, perhaps by reading the comments below (if there are any problems there is also a very frequent and detailed Forum Once the app is installed (it is also done from the web interface from a computer or tablet if you want to do it more comfortably) you must add the device and you can choose it from the list of compatible ones: at this point the wireless radio will be activated (z-wave, Zigbee, radio frequency) and you can include it in the list of controllers and sensors that can be managed directly with the interface or that can be included in Flows, or automations.

Let's take an example with IKEA Tradfri. We remind you that in this way we will be able to connect all the lamps on Homey without the need for the appropriate IKEA gateway and that all the lamps coupled here will be programmable with global automations and can also be displayed on Homekit for scenarios and automations.

Brand after brand, device after device you will have dozens of counter-settable objects that include not only strictly home automation objects but also conditions with IR control, amplifiers, TV (there are also LG with WebOS), air conditioners and as said information from Web as weather conditions or a simple data drawn with a GET from a web page (for example the value of AAPL actions).

Below at the bottom we have a review of the peripherals available with the basic and third-party apps: to note that there are also controllers that would normally be difficult to use in complex macros with cross-platform products.

Obviously we will have to assign the various devices to the various rooms and in our examples we have imagined a fairly large and multi-storey house leaving the weather values ​​to the garden.

The interface of the App

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to HomekitThe app for iOS and Android designed for smartphones and does not have a horizontal mode or a version for tablets at the moment and shows in order the photo of your profile, a scrolling strip with large keys and direct commands for your favorite devices, macros favorites and a timeline with the latest events while at the bottom the classic four-item menu features the Home button, access to the buttons that show all the devices sorted by printing, the Flows (automations) and the more button that shows other functions.

Devices – The devices

Under this item are listed all the devices, sensors, controllers, TV thermostats etc that we have already configured and by pressing quickly on the button we can turn on or off a lamp or activate / deactivate a socket. If, on the other hand, the controlled device has a more complex interface (for example a color or percentage adjustment) or a series of parameters to consult, we will have to press a little longer to access a menu that shows all the adjustments and / or information or that allows us to access the different control systems: on / off, a slider or a multiple choice system. In some cases there will also be a timeline with the history of the device or its logs.

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to HomekitFor each individual device, if you press on the gear wheel of the settings at the top right, we will have the name, the room to which it belongs and any advanced options that in some cases enter the deep programming of the object (for example, in the parameters of the Fibaro relays with groups, modes of use etc. )

Returning to the general list, if you press the + button at the top right you will have the list of apps installed and selecting one you can add a new device as described in the previous section of the review.

Even more – the entry "More …"

For now, let's skip the Flow item and go to the More item in the menu below.If we select the item on the right we find a new screen with three main items: Apps which are the apps described at the beginning with the classic + button at the top right to add one. If we click on one of those already installed we will have the list of connected devices, the possibility to access advanced options or to restart the single application rather than the entire gateway.

The view app item in the Homey App Store will allow us to access information on the app itself and comments from the relevant web page. We can also decide to send operating reports or activate automatic updates for each individual application. The second Alarms item has an obvious operation: it allows us to activate alarms in the app itself with repeat functions or not or with the possibility of assigning a name to each alarm. * The third item allows us to add values ​​by assigning them to a variable that we will baptize a priori and to which we can assign a value: the variable (type text, number, yes / no) can be called in an automation and the value that we will assign manually will affect the automation itself without having to insert it within a flow. The fourth item of the More menu is very important and that of the Settings, the settings.

The settings – the settings

From the settings we can manage user profile, privacy data and restart the gateway in addition to recognizing our position with respect to the home – geofencing (Generali and Privacy). Under Speech we can choose playback speed and voice, under Audio the volume and under Ring the behavior of the LED ring which is a real communication system for those who do not want to be bothered by voice and noise. Language for now includes English, German and Dutch but French and Spanish will come soon and, hopefully also Italian, Location allows you to enter the geographical coordinates of your home automatically or manually, Notifications allows you to manage the communications of each individual app in push or less and to delete old notifications.

In the settings we find the items Z-wave and Zigbee that will allow us to manage the internal radio (the frequency of Z-wave depends on the continent in which you use the device and you have to set it on Europe) to delete the device and reset all the peripherals, operation (not recommended since at the moment there is no backup option) that can also be done with Zigbee.

The Family setting has recently been introduced, which allows you to create an access link to your Homey on several levels: Manager can practically manage the gateway as the main user except perform lupdate (and manage users), User can control flow and settings while Guest can only interact with the devices without changing settings but be careful of those who manage alarms and door and entrance control devices! Then there are Updates which activates the automatic update of the main app and Experiments which we do not recommend you to activate for your peace of mind.

In the second section of the settings we have the integrations (only in English) with Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook Messenger (you can send messages to activate routines and automations) and IFTTT to connect with actions and devices and expand the interaction programming capacity.

Finally in the last group of items we have the settings of the individual Apps that range from the access data to the server to the refresh time in the consultation of sensors etc etc

Flows – Automations and scenes

With flowsHomey defines its automations which are truly powerful. Even if there is no programming language or visual system such as that of Zipato or Fibaro which refer a lot to the Scratch experience of MIT, the programming is simple and powerful enough to manage complex actions and is obviously based on access to real devices, the values ​​of the virtual or data devices that can be acquired via the Web.

It can also be integrated with IFTTT, with apps that introduce a system of complex parametric variables and last but not least it uses both voice communication and the internal speaker both for voice and customizable MP3 (managed by the Soundboard app) and the modulation of the lights of the equatorial LED ring.

It is also able to manage music, playlists and favorite tracks that can be managed with Sonos (now very efficient thanks to a recent update) with an integration authorized by the speaker manufacturer that arrives at the execution of a playlist in case of morning with the sun or rain, a song to play at sunset and so on (this option and the interaction with Sonos we will see in a separate article).

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

The automation structure also includes the AND condition in order to create a series of events that can end when one of the other conditions ceases: for example, we could keep one or more tents lowered, sheltering from the sun during the day but only if the wind does not reaches a certain speed and / or the internal temperature does not drop below a certain threshold.

Below we see some options available with the Aqara Cube within Homey's programming.

Homey Insigths

Another feature that distinguishes from other gateways the inclusion in the basic characteristics of the statistical representation of the temperature, current absorption, opening and closing logs on graphs that can be activated and deactivated and compared.

Certainly not a rigorous control system, but it can help to reconstruct the history of the house and the possible dependence of a size detected by another parameter: for example, the internal temperature from the external one as a function of closing a curtain.

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to Homekit

Integration with Google Assistant (also in Italian)

Starting from mid-May 2019 Homey “exhibits light-type peripherals, controlled sockets and thermostats and on / off switches towards Google Assistant and Google Home. We have dedicated a special article to the theme that you find on this page: The homey super gateway home automation now exposes Z-Wave, Zigbee, IR and RF on Google Assistant in Italian.

And who has Homekit?

We purposely left this topic at the bottom of the review because in fact everything we have described so far concerns both iOS and Android users. The iOS user who already has Homekit peripherals has one more advantage: he can integrate almost all (let's say 90-95%) the peripherals that can be managed by Homey inside homekit and manage them inside the house with the advantage of controlling them by voice even in Italian through Siri.

Homey review: lhub for home automation on Android and iOS that speaks to everyone and brings everything to HomekitThis miracle corresponding to that obtainable with various tweaks, installation and complex configuration management with the legendary Homebridge which would still require a raspberry PI and a series of hardware to bring it to the level of versatility and compatibility of Homey: in practice, just activate an App that does bridge and it's called HomeyKIT and as if by magic the vast majority of the peripherals you see on Homey are displayed on Homekit (on iOS) and appear in the list of those that can be managed from Home.

In fact Homey becomes a bridge like the one in Hue or Aqara that we have reviewed and the access data to the sensors and switches are shared with Homekit.But not only: the shared data is also managed by Homekit automations which, although more limited those of Homey can be transformed into scenes that can be recalled with a simple button on the iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch or with a command on Siri.

In our case, for example, we used Fibaro's Z-wave relay for shutters included on Homey (with the Fibaro app) and displayed on Homekit and with Vimar Zigbee switches (connected to the Philips Hue bridge and reviewed here) we can raise them or drop them all together and / or turn off the Hue lights on the veranda. In the same way we can use to control the temperature of an Evohome thermostatic valve absolutely incompatible with Homekit originally but exposed on Home through Homey …

All peripherals included / exposed in the homekit can be programmed and included in scenes controlled by Siri or with iPhone, iPad and Mac. Warning for: you cannot import Homey scenes / flows into Homekit, nor can you read the insights data of peripherals that are not homekits.

For those of us who have collected and managed Homekit devices for a long time and not with different radios, Homekit does not directly see Homey absolutely the holy grail of home automation.

First conclusions

In any case, what you are reading is an evolving review: according to our parameters, just over two months of testing do not allow you to give an opinion of absolute reliability on a product that must interact with a flood of peripherals but, from our experience, this truly the most versatile gateway on the market right now.

Its open nature obviously its strength and in some way its Achilles' heel: if third-party developers do not update the Apps it can be difficult to maintain the integration and if Apple decides to block Homebridge and similarly the whole integration could go It is difficult for this to happen: after all the manufacturers of peripherals, sensors, controllers to be able to sell millions of products need to be compatible with the maximum number of houses, gateways, mobile phones and smart devices and this is certainly an excellent system for the user. The same Homey producers then collaborate in keeping the Apps up to date and making them efficient with the support of the community that frequents the forum and open resources.

We must also say that the price of 299 Euro VAT included at the end not absolutely heavy for the level of services, radio, and solution of interoperability problems that the object offers: finally all (or almost) the home automation gadgets that we have at home can talk between them and also with Siri!

Homey, the holy grail of home automation brings together Zigbee, Z-wave, RF, Xiaomi and Homekit

Pro

There is little to add to what we have already seen in the review: Homey's main advantage is its extreme versatility, interoperability and ease of use even during the programming phase. We managed to integrate practically everything we had in the house except for the Sonoff control unit that would require an update with a Transmeta firmware which, due to the "easy" nature on which we want to bring our home automation systems, we do not feel like recommending to an end user .

All this integration does not require programming knowledge, terminal installations or the acquisition of data out of the reach of an end user. The only difficulty to activate some peripherals is to know the IP number of the gateway (e.g. Broadlink transmitter) or accessory (e.g. Yeelight ceiling lights) when connected via Wi-Fi.

On the other hand, Homey has the advantage of being able to directly control thousands of high quality peripherals based on true standards for home automation such as Zigbee and Z-wave which have the advantage of operating on mesh networks, requiring low battery consumption and not clog your Wi-Fi router. These peripherals offer considerable installation versatility and above all reduce the standby consumption of your home automation system.

Homey introduced the Homey + service on February 18, 2020. with 1 Euro per month it is possible to save on the cloud and recover and / or transfer configurations, automations and pure statistics of the device and accessories. More details on this page.

Versus

As for the internal limits of the solution, we can say that for some time, together with other users, we have been asking for the possibility of making a backup of the configuration which is a standard option in all traditional home automation gateways and cannot be overlooked further.

A version designed for tablets is missing: it is true that statistics, access to apps and flows can be made from the web but precisely for this reason it should be easy to have a large-screen interface where you can manage individual parameters and buttons with simplicity. There is not yet an Italian version but the remarkable ease of installation and the whole, at least for the control part, totally customizable in Italian. Obviously those who use Homekit take advantage: if the devices are exposed you can use Home on iPad or other alternative applications as a mega-control center and also with voice commands in our language.

Compared to other integrated systems, a multiple vision camera control system is missing.

Summing up

Homey amazed us from the first moment: the ability to integrate all the main smart home radios, the apps that include thousands of peripherals even at low cost seriously represent a huge step forward in the integration of the electronic devices that we have at home without compromise our privacy with the use of voice controllers or the transmission of our most intimate data on the cloud.

Waiting for an Italian version of the software (however very simple to use also in English) We can say that Apple users are currently even more fortunate since they can control almost everything Homey controls even with their voice and also in Italian.

Update 9 August 2019: the application interface has been completely translated into Italian. La comunicazione vocale con il generatore interno rimane in inglese.Su questa pagina trovate le schermate nella nostra lingua e le modalit per attivarla.

Homey disponibile in due versioni, una standard ed una Pro che dispone di pi memoria ed un processore pi veloce. La versione standard da noi utilizzata non ha mostrato alcun problema nei due mesi e mezzo di pesante utilizzazione. Homey si acquista anche direttamente su Amazon e la versione oggetto di questa prova quella base dal costo di 299 Euro.La versione Pro (che ha una memoria doppia per caricare pi app) si pu acquistare a 399 Euro direttamente sul sito di Homey da questo link. Se utilizzate il coupon MACITYNET-FREESHIPPING al checkout avrete la spedizione gratuita.