Philips' Hue app has always been a little rough around the edges, but today that changes as Philips releases an update that both overhauls how it looks and adds in much-needed features to make the system far more useful.
The app looks significantly nicer
The new app looks colorful and modern, with clear sections and big buttons that should make it easy to navigate around. (One interesting side note: even on iOS, the app uses an Android-style floating button to let you add new lights or scenes from within most menus.) It's a much nicer style than what was used in the old app, which looked like it had been designed around the time the App Store launched and then never touched again.
And yet, the bigger improvement is to how you control everything. Lights can now be easily grouped into individual rooms that get controlled as a whole unit, which makes a lot more sense than having to turn lights on and off individually, or turning all Hue lights off at once. Technically, this could all be done in the old app, but the feature was hard to find. Here, it's placed front and center — perhaps because Philips realizes that people have been hooking up a lot of bulbs.
The new app also lets you set "routines" that'll automate lights to change colors and brightness throughout the day. There was a similar timer feature before, but the routines feature is meant to do a bit more. You can set it to brighten your lights when you wake up in the morning and to shift from blue to orange throughout the day, matching the color temperature outside. There's also a new "home and away" mode, that'll let the app automatically turn your lights off when you leave and on again when you arrive back home.
The changes offer more (and simpler) lighting controls
Philips has always played up the ability to set specific lighting "scenes," which tell a group of lights to switch to a certain set of colors. With today's update, Philips is making it easier to create new ones, by letting the app analyze a photo and automatically pull out its dominant colors. The app's overhauled design also makes switching between preset scenes seem way nicer. The old interface looked like something out of a children's storytelling app; this new one has big circular images that almost make it look like you're choosing between photo filters (which I guess you kind of are).
The new app is being released today on both iOS and Android. Philips has been referring to it as "Hue gen 2," to denote the major changes. If you're a Hue owner, it should be a lot easier to make use of your lights after this.
All images credit Philips.