Alexa Connected Home Update: TCP Connect Lights Bow Out, Honeywell Connect Comfort Thermostat Steps In
It’s a good news / bad news week for Alexa-enabled smart home devices.
Alexa Can No Longer Control TCP Connected Lights
TCP Connect announced that effective today, its TCP Connected lighting will no longer offer access via the internet or connectivity through cloud services.
Since Alexa can only communicate with services and devices that connect to the cloud, this means TCP Connect bulbs can no longer be controlled using Alexa commands. Per TCP’s announcement the bulbs will still be supported by “Lighting controls through a local (Wifi) connection, General Illumination with Connected by TCP bulbs”. I’m not a TCP bulb owner so I don’t know what either of those things means, but the bottom line is that Alexa control will no longer be possible.
This is part of the pain of being an early adopter when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT): it’s too soon to tell which third-party products and services have staying power.
The only smart home devices I’ve bought to use with Alexa are LIFX bulbs, for that exact reason. While it’s certainly true that LIFX could drop Alexa support at any time as well, at least I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on them and I didn’t install a whole-home, bridge- or hub-based system to support them.
Alexa Adds Native Support For Honeywell Total Connect Comfort Thermostats
In the good news department, this week the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort Thermostat was officially integrated with Alexa and can now be controlled via Alexa voice commands, no skill to install.
Controls are simple. For example:
“Alexa, set my temperature to 72 degrees.”
Is There Any Way To Ensure The IoT Tech You Buy Won’t Drop Alexa Support?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Every IoT tech company out there is subject to the whims of economic downturns, changes in strategic direction and manufacturing/supply problems, just the same as any other business in the world, and the decisions those companies make are totally out of Amazon’s control.
Of course Amazon is doing all in its power to integrate as many IoT devices with Alexa as possible, but they cannot guarantee any connected device will continue to exist offer Alexa support forever. Here are some tips that may help you avoid getting burned by this type of change in the future.
1. Don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose on IoT tech. As owners of TCP Connected bulbs learned this week, Alexa support could vanish at any time.
2. Try to limit your purchases of IoT tech to products from established companies with a proven track record of backing their products.
3. When researching IoT tech that offers Alexa support, look for products that have an easy-to-use, convenient, other method of control as well so you can be sure the devices will still get plenty of use even if Alexa support does go away at some point in the future.
4. Some will disagree with me on this final point but I tend to be financially conservative: avoid investing in IoT products from crowdfunded startups. The internet is littered with the virtual bodies of many IoT startups and crowdfunded IoT devices, and if your priority is to find a reliable device with excellent support it’s generally best to avoid the first generation version of anything.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow, when I’ll be announcing the winners of the LME Anniversary Contest and sharing a brand new, free set of Echo skins and a couple other freebies so all my readers can be winners! If you haven’t entered yet you still have until midnight tonight (PST) to do so, but note that there’s a limit of one entry per person.
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