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Home Control Assistant Newsletter for April 24 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.
I’ve been holding off writing this but my recent weekly messages about voice control using Hubitat and the death of Insteon has kicked off too many questions, so let me clarify last week’s clarification and expand a bit.

Just so you have context here, here are links to my weekly post about Hubitat voice control
part1, and part2.

A warning: All that follows contains some guesses as to the future and if you have read my post about the “ecosystem” surrounding HCA you will remember that there will be changes at some point that makes HCA entirely stop working or some features of it stop working. I don’t know when that point will happen so don’t ask.

As I wrote in last week’s post, when HCA support and the HCA Cloud goes dark, much will still work. The software itself will keep working. The mobile apps will keep working as they don’t use the HCA Cloud. Many features that operate external to the computer that don’t use the HCA Cloud will still operate. For example, client server, sending and receiving emails, and SMS. That’s a lot of function.

But what will stop working and what options do you have? Here is my best guess.
  • Alexa and Google Assistant will no longer work without the HCA Cloud but can be replaced by Hubitat which works with Alexa and Google Assistant. So using Hubitat you can voice control anything that HCA can control now.
  • The SmartThings hub requires the HCA Cloud so support will end for that. Hubitat, which supports many of the same hardware devices, doesn’t use the HCA Cloud so it will continue to operate.
  • HCA control of LIFX lights needs the HCA Cloud for authorization so support will end. Phillips Hue, which has similar color changing Wi-Fi lighting, will still work with HCA since  it doesn’t need the HCA Cloud.
  • The Nest thermostat – which hasn’t been officially supported for a while – will not operate without the HCA Cloud. But the Ecobee thermostat will continue to be operable by HCA.
  • Ring cameras and doorbell, Sonos, and the two lightly used services, Mojo and Rachio will stop working. But all of these have their own applications, and some have Alexa/Google Assistant integrations.

Finally, we still have over two years before HCA and HCA Cloud support ends.

So what does this mean to you? It means that if you have a lot of legacy hardware installed (Insteon for example) you can still have automation that use it for quite a while by keeping HCA going - understanding the changes and limitations described above. As hardware fails, you can replace with more modern gear.

Just to feel a bit better about how HCA is managing this transition, give a look over these:
https://staceyoniot.com/insteon-is-down-and-may-not-be-coming-back/

https://www.pcmag.com/news/smart-home-company-insteon-shuts-down-servers-without-warning

Seems like Insteon didn’t have much of a transition plan. Not three years. Maybe not even 3 days. Makes you think, huh?
 
If you are using HCA with UPB devices and also use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control of them, please drop me a note as there are some developments you may be interested in.
If you are using a version of HCA prior to version 17, you may have questions about the wisdom of upgrading to version 17 given the future of HCA. Here is something to consider:

The support policy for older HCA versions has been changed
 as I can no longer devote time to past version users. Support will only be available for HCA 17 users.

If you are on version 16 or earlier and want to continue using the cloud features and want to be assured that if you have a question that it gets answered, it is indeed time to upgrade.

HCA is fully operational for several more years so the update cost, spread out over that time, is very little. Knowing support is available when you need it is worth it.
Upgrade to HCA 17
Anyone who is using Hubitat with HCA – not SmartThings – please drop me a note as I would like to add you to a discussion list for those users. I have some Hubitat ideas that I would like to “kick around” and it would help to have a group of users who have experience with Hubitat. Please just send a note to the regular support address saying you would like to be added to that discussion list.
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