Philips Hue will no longer block third-party light bulbs (Update)

philips hue bridge firmware update connected bulb starter pack 7
Updated 12/16/2015: Philips announced a future update will reverse the change: We recently upgraded the software for Philips Hue to ensure the best seamless connected lighting experience for our customers. This change was made in good faith. However, we under estimated the impact this would have on a small number of customers who use lights from other brands which could not be controlled by the Philips Hue software. In view of the sentiment expressed by our customers, we have decided to reverse the software upgrade so that lights from other brands continue to work as they did before with the Philips Hue system.

In a rather alarming move for fans of Philips Hue, the company has revealed it will block all third-party LED light bulbs from the Hue Bridge in the firmware 1.11 update.

Philips claims these third-party options are causing too many compatibility and setup problems. Third parties now have to send products to Friends of Hue, a program designed by Philips, which verifies third-party products that want to connect with the Hue bridge. That is on top of sending products to ZigBee LightLink, an electronic alliance that verifies all sorts of products and offers a protocol for connected devices.

The Hue bridge is where all of the smart light bulbs connect, via a single Wi-Fi bridge. From there, the user can manipulate the colors and add programs to change the colors across 50 light bulbs — enough for an entire house of lights.

The decision is being received as a shocking move, and has sparked a massive backlash from the community. Customers are calling for Philips to change the policy, and some are even contemplating a move away from the company’s products to a neutral bridge provider. Others are not as bothered about the move, but want Philips to warn about third-party light bulbs that haven’t been tested, instead of blocking them.

In the past year, Philips has become the dominant provider of LED lights and solutions, which might be the reason for the sudden move to cut off the competition. The smart home provider claims that the new ban on third-party light bulbs will effect a small minority of customers, but GE, Cree, and Osram customers are all in the dark for now on future compatibility.

Philips is not the first company to try to impose a blockade on third-party products. Apple’s third-party accessories for HomeKit are all vetted, as are smart products that use the Works with Nest API. Unlike those firms, however, Philips didn’t start with a closed network in mind, and imposing new restrictions on Hue Bridge after becoming popular is a much more complicated matter than beginning with a closed network in the first place.

Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…
Gaming

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.