Thursday, October 13, 2022

Roku Smart Home

Roku announced a new lineup of devices called Roku Smart Home yesterday. I like the idea of it, but I don't like the execution. Allow me to explain.

I have a few smart home devices at my home. I use smart switches to control overhead lights in several rooms. I use smart outlets to control other items. I don't have much more than that, but I do find them helpful. I mean, if I forget to turn off a light at night, I don't have to get back out of bed and wander around the house turning off lights I overlooked.

When I got the devices, my focus was on devices that worked with both Google Assistant, Apple Home Kit, and Amazon Alexa. That should cover everything, right? Well, no, but more on that in a minute.

When I got the devices, I wasn't sure which main system I would use: Alexa, Siri, or Google. But, as all the devices I bought worked with them all, I was good.

It's not important which I finally settled on, because recently, I've begin making changes to that. As part of my recent efforts to increase privacy, I've wanted to move away from those smart controllers, and I have done that. I'm moving to Home Assistant, an open source, well, home assistant.

It is a happy accident that all of my devices are also compatible with Home Assistant. When I decided to move away from the Big Tech controller, I thought I may need to replace a few of the devices. I didn't. All of them also supported Home Assistant. It's now a part of my checks when looking at a smart device to see if it supports the four: Google, Apple (Home Kit), Amazon (Alexa), and Home Assistant.

That's where Roku falls short. Well, apparently.

Roku introduced Roku Smart Home, and it sounds good:

Simplicity is a key feature of Roku devices, and it’s at the foundation of Roku Smart Home. Integration with Roku OS allows you to receive real-time alerts and view live streams of your Roku Smart Home camera and video doorbell from your Roku TV or player. Free and automatic software updates ensure your device is always up to speed. Plus, third party voice assistants and Roku Voice enable hands-free commands so you can be more hands-on around the house.

The devil is in the details, of course. It only mentions Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support. No Home Kit. No Home Assistant. AFTV News says that the items are simply Wyze devices with Roku's name attached:

After leaking a couple of days ago, Roku has now officially announced its new line of smart home lights, plugs, and cameras. Unlike Roku’s home theater products, which I presume the company makes itself to some degree, these smart home devices are “developed in partnership with Wyze,” which appears to just mean that Roku put its name on Wyze’s hardware and, possibly, add it’s own spin through software.

Wyze doesn't support Home Assistant, and apparently neither will Roku Smart Home devices. That's disappointing. Even if I was not moving to Home Assistant, I would be disappointed that Home Kit isn't supported. I want devices that are compatible with more systems, as I don't want to be locked in to any one system. It's not easy to change, of course, but if I find I chose poorly, I want the ability to change to something else. Wyze, and apparently Roku Smart Home, limit me to Google and Amazon, and don't support Apple or Home Assistant. That's a deal breaker in my book.

While I am firmly in the Roku ecosystem when it comes to streaming, I can easily move to something else, as I own Amazon Fire TV devices, Android/Google TV devices, and Apple devices. Oh, and I built my own with a Raspberry Pi (a version of Android TV). I'm always keeping my options open, when it come to smart home devices, and when it comes to my Streaming Life.

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