Welcome to the March edition of the Open Home newsletter, the place to learn about the latest and greatest things for your smart home that improve its privacy, choice and durability.
Mark your calendars: Year of the Voice - Chapter 2 will be held on April 27, 2023 on Home Assistant's YouTube channel. Subscribe to be notified when it starts!
Are IoT cloud subsidies coming to an end?
Since Amazon and Google have entered the smart home space, they have subsidized the hardware and services that they sell. Buy a $30 voice assistant and get access to unlimited cloud-powered voice service and app ecosystem without spending another dime.
Running a cloud for these devices is not free, and until now, these companies have been eating these costs. The goal is to bind the customer and earn money via ads or selling other services.
However, times are changing. Interest rates are rising in the US and borrowing money is not cheap anymore. Across the tech industry companies are laying off staff, reviewing and cutting budgets and steering projects to focus on making money. This impacts subsidized IoT hard as it has failed to be the money maker companies expected it to be.
One company that is turning up the monetization knob is Amazon. As reported by ArsTechnica, it cut hard in it's Alexa department during it's latest round of layoffs. Amazon's Ring division is joining the fray: The Verge reports that it now costs $4/month for new users to use the Ring app to arm and disarm their Ring security system. The Amazon business guys have been gracious and physically interacting with your security system remains free for now.
Subsidized IoT can look like the better deal – but it will always end. Companies are not interested in paying for a cloud for a 10 year old device that won't make them money anymore.
One of the values of the Open Home is durability. Things need to be build to last. The only way to protect yourself is to buy devices that work locally and do not require a cloud to do its primary function. Even better, buy a device that implements an open standard like Zigbee, Z-Wave or Matter and no one can ever remotely cripple your devices by limiting its features.
Home Assistant levels up it's dialogs
Home Assistant 2023.3 came with a facelift for many of it's dialogs. Most notably, the work has started on revamping all of the "more info" dialogs. This release brought it to lights, switches and sirens.
Another excellent feature is the ability to set the display precision for your sensors. You no longer need to wrap sensors in templates for these adjustments.
Last year Z-Wave JS launched the Z-Wave firmware update service. It allows any manufacturer to offer Home Assistant and other Z-Wave JS users firmware updates. This month HELTUN joined as a Works with Home Assistant partner and made their firmware available.
Updates for your Z-Wave stick are now possible too, but you will need to find your own firmware files as there is no support yet in the update service.
Supporting the Open Home
We get asked quite often how to support our work. The answer is to subscribe to Home Assistant Cloud by Nabu Casa. There are monthly and annual plans and no lock-ins.
Nabu Casa was founded by me, Paulus Schoutsen, the founder of Home Assistant, and it exists to further develop out the Open Home. The Open Home is our vision for smart homes that offer privacy, choice and durability. Nabu Casa employees lead the work on Home Assistant, ESPHome, Z-Wave JS, Zigpy (Zigbee in HA), Matter Server and the Year of the Voice project.
Leon created the Rounded Dashboard and wrote an extensive tutorial on how you can create your own.
Home Assistant on the Stream Deck
Quickly toggle lights, play media and navigate between different pages with Bas Nijholts latest project.
Automate your blinds based on outdoor brightness
Philip got tired of adjusting his blinds manually and came up with a neat solution to adjust his blinds based on the light outside.
Other noteworthy news
- IKEA launches Zigbee air quality monitor. Because it's based on an open standard, it works out of the box with Home Assistant (IKEA).
- Belkin nopes out of Matter as it is unable to differentiate itself. (Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, The Verge)
- Home Assistant fixed a security vulnerability in the Supervisor. The fix has been rolled out to everyone via the Supervisor auto-update system. (Paulus Schoutsen, Home Assistant)