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Logitech pulls 180, will un-break third-party Harmony home automation

Logitech pulls 180, will un-break third-party Harmony home automation


Now it’s your choice between security and control

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If you’ve spent dozens of hours fine-tuning a home automation setup so that everything just works, you’d be pretty angry if a single firmware update screwed it up. But Logitech is now pledging to make it right for customers wronged by its latest firmware update to the Harmony Hub — by offering yet another update that’ll restore local network control.

While Logitech originally defended its move to make the Harmony Hub unresponsive to third-party home automation software — arguing that the private APIs were never meant to be used for anything except setting up the Harmony Hub for the first time, and that keeping them around meant maintaining a security hole — Logitech has now relented, saying it’s “working to provide a solution for those who still want access despite the inherent security risks involved.”

That solution is basically an about-face: Logitech will undo the change it made in the first place by restoring access to XMPP local controls with a new update, so that third-party home automation software like Home Assistant can see and operate the Hub over your local network.

Logitech’s calling it a “XMPP beta program” for now, and says it’ll make the update available to all Harmony customers in January as well.

Here are Logitech’s instructions if you want to opt into the beta now:

Launch the MyHarmony software on your desktop computer.

From the login page, press the following keys to access the tool:

On Windows - Press Alt + F9

On Macs - Press Fn + Option + F9 or Option + F9.

Scroll down to the bottom where it says “FIRMWARE TO ENABLE XMPP. FOR DEVELOPERS ONLY.”

Be sure to read through the short warning and disclaimer to understand the impact of installing this firmware.

Click on Update Firmware.

Plug in your Harmony Hub via USB and click on Install.

So for the time being, and maybe for the foreseeable future, it’ll be your choice between maximum security and third-party control.

This isn’t the first time Logitech’s had to make amends: the company decided to brick the Harmony Hub’s predecessor last March, and agreed to give every owner a free Harmony Hub to deal with that backlash. In each case, it took a little while for Logitech to come around, but it’s clearly listening — and it clearly doesn’t want to be known as a company that takes away things you’ve paid for.