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Wink can now put Uber on your wall

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Wink

Wink's smart home controller is getting an update today that lets it know and do a whole lot more. After an update, the Relay controller will be able to integrate with Uber to let you hail a cab, as well as with Fitbit to display your daily step count. More intriguingly, it'll also integrate with IFTTT, which'll let you program the Relay's two physical buttons to do pretty much whatever you want.

The Relay is also getting some basic updates to its own features. Some of its widgets are being redesigned to make them "easier to read," and it's getting an intercom feature, so that homes with multiple Relay units can use one to talk through to any other Relay inside a house. The software update is free to all existing Relay owners.

Wink introduced the Relay almost two years ago, and since then, it's served as a fancy option for controlling smart home devices connected by Wink. It has a touchscreen and a pair of buttons, which combined let you control a variety of Wink products throughout a home. But it's definitely not a necessity for Wink users; you can use an app or cheaper light switches and dimmers instead.

Wink is trying to make the Relay more than a niche product

With this update, Wink is hoping the Relay will stand out to more people — even people who don't have a bunch of Wink products in their home. Its thinking is that the Relay is essentially a silent complement to something like an Amazon Echo. While you might order an Uber by speaking aloud, you'll then be able to pass by your Relay to see how far away the cab is, since Alexa isn't going to read that information out every time it updates.

This seems like very optimistic thinking, at least for the time being. The Relay still appears to be a niche product for people very committed to their Wink-controlled smart home. But the idea of allowing third-party integrations could make the Relay more interesting down the road.

Right now, third parties still need to work with Wink if they want to integrate — the Relay isn't opening up to all developers, which is limiting. That said, including IFTTT is a strong start, as it might allow people who are really interested in customizing their smart home to get creative with what a wall switch can be used to do.