I’ve been using Philips Hue white and color ambience lights around my house since they gained HomeKit support last fall, but the mobile apps that control the lights have never felt top notch. Earlier this week, Philips moved its Hue mobile apps to legacy status with a name change and icon tweak, and today Hue users are finally getting their hands on the latest and greatest Philips Hue apps for iOS and Android. The design improvements alone are dramatic and worth the wait, but Philips packs in some new features and tricks as well.
The old app fit in fine on iOS 7 and beyond, but it relied on a basement menu style which has fallen out of fashion and organization wasn’t as simple as it could be. The new Philips Hue app that replaces the old one has a much more modern look with a navigation bar for switching between lights and scenes or rooms and routines and more.
Aside from design, the old app also lacked great management for how it thought about lights in various rooms. Philips Hue lights work with Apple’s HomeKit framework, so I’ve instead relied on the excellent Home app to manage most of the experience, with the free OnSwitch app helping in some cases.
The new Philips Hue app better addresses grouped lights with a new feature called Rooms:
Rooms: The app allows you to control all the lights in a room or area at once, instantly. This feature also allows you to control the lights in a room through one voice command. For example, you can say “Set relax in the living room” to unwind after a busy day.
Philips is also getting better at automation with a new Routines feature:
Routines: The Routines feature allows you to set light schedules to support your daily activities, from the moment you wake up until you go to bed at night. The white light recipes in the Philips Hue app are designed to help you throughout the day with waking up, concentrating on work, reading, relaxing, or getting energized. The new Philips Hue white ambiance (available this spring) perfectly complements the routines feature by delivering every shade of white light.
The latest app includes new preset Scenes to try as well:
Scenes: The new app can extract the color palette from any picture of your choice and automatically select the five best colors to create a vibrant mood. You can also create your own unique scenes with more than 16 million colors and every shade of white light. New preset scenes in the app include spring blossom, savanna sunset, artic aurora and tropical twilight.
In addition to new Rooms and Routines features and updated Scenes, the new Philips Hue app features new widget options that combine rooms and scenes, and home and away mode let you automate turning lights on and off based on your location.
All in all, the brand new Philips Hue app will likely be a very welcome addition to Hue light owners. Controlling lights around your home with your iPhone is really fun, but it all starts with a great app experience and today’s release makes great improvements there.
The new Philips Hue app should be hitting the App Store soon; the legacy Philips Hue controller app is sticking around for now as well for users who prefer it. [UPDATE 11:30 am ET: The new app version is now available.]
Now’s a great time to get started with Philips Hue smart lighting or expand your current setup. Amazon is offering big discounts on previous generation Starter Kits, Home-Kit compatible bundles and bulbs.