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Philips Hue adds Siri voice control with new hub

Philips Hue adds Siri voice control with new hub

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Philips is finally ready to let Hue customers control their lighting through Siri. It's announcing a new Hue bridge today that adds in support for HomeKit, Apple's smart home platform, allowing customers who buy one to start controlling all Hue lights — new and old — through voice commands on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. Because Apple requires HomeKit devices to include specific hardware, existing Hue customers will have to purchase a new hub to get started. Existing customers will be able to get a discount through Hue's website so that they can buy it for $40. New customers will have to pay $60 or get it through a starter bundle.

A much easier way to control your home

The new hub is slightly smaller than the old one, and it's also now square. Otherwise, it's basically the same thing but with additional HomeKit hardware built in. Philips is trying to stress that it doesn't see this as Hue's "HomeKit hub," but simply a new Hue hub that also supports HomeKit. The hub still supports all the third-party systems that it used to — like SmartThings and Nest — and it'll continue to add support for others, so long as they can be implemented through software updates.

That means if you're already a Hue customer and don't use an iPhone, there's no reason to buy this new hub. But if you do use an iPhone, you'll probably want to get it — using Siri tends to a much faster way of controlling your home than using an app. And given that Philips probably has a lot of Hue customers using iPhones (it declined to say how many), it's probably going to sell a lot of these things. The new hub, which Philips is calling the Hue Bridge 2.0, will also be included in new Hue starter kits. Those starter kits are getting a slight upgrade too, with Philips now including brighter bulbs. They'll be available tomorrow.

In addition to the new bridge, Hue is introducing a new light strip today. The new strip is meant to be a functional lighting source within a home, rather than just a color accent, as the old strip was. The new strip starts at two meters long and can be extended in one-meter increments up to ten meters. The core strip will sell for $89.95 and one-meter additions will sell for $29.95 each, with sales beginning sometime this month. Philips is making one other change today, too: it's rebranding Hue Lux bulbs to Hue White — probably because "White" is a better way of explaining that they only do white light — and discounting the price of individual bulbs from around $30 to $15.

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