Earlier this week, technically-inclined Harmony remote enthusiasts noticed that a recent firmware update disabled previously-available local control capabilities. Cue the Internet collectively losing its mind. The tech press (including, ahem, Ars) reported with expectedly hyperbolic headlines suggesting Logitech was BRICKING your [amazon_link id=”B00N3RFC4Q” target=”_blank” ]Harmony Hubs[/amazon_link] and BREAKING smart home integration. One might assume all home automation—which would be significant. And inaccurate.
Stoking the Outrage
Sure, some outlets offered the less-frightening, nuanced details, but they were often buried below the spectacle of recalling how Logitech SCREWED customers last year by abandoning and shutting down services that powered a then-six-year-old product, the Harmony Link. Never mind that it only cost about a hundred bucks years ago, that technology had evolved beyond its capabilities, or that it wasn’t a terribly popular product to begin with [we tested it and kind of hated it.]
Further reinforcing the fervor over this betrayal was one tweet, from about a month ago. Apparently Logitech mentioned that the Harmony Hub API is now closed to developers. “See…they’re KILLING the Hub!” But…just maybe…let’s not react so swiftly (and blindly). This Hub supports ten products, many of which are still available today:
- Harmony Elite
- Harmony Pro
- Harmony Home Hub
- Harmony Ultimate Hub
- Harmony Home Control
- Harmony Smart Control
- [amazon_link id=”B00N3RFC4G” target=”_blank” ]Harmony Companion[/amazon_link] (our favorite universal remote)
- Harmony Smart Keyboard
- Harmony Ultimate
- Harmony Ultimate Home
Sure, Logitech may be readying a next-generation product line—and recent, significant price breaks might support that. But what’s the likelihood that Logitech is going to abandon all of these products, and the consumers who use them, in the near future? We’d suggest it’s very, very low.
Here’s What Really Happened
So what did happen? Logitech’s update plugged what the company considered to be a security hole. That hole was exactly what some customers were exploiting to control the hub through local network commands, rather than relying on Logitech’s official, cloud-based API. The update didn’t, in any way, impact control through third parties like Alexa and IFTTT or its own smart home control capabilities. It did, however, block control from Homeseer, Home Assistant, and other enthusiast and some professionally integrated systems.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting, preferring, or even requiring local device control in your home. In fact, we’d agree that, when possible, it’s a best practice. The problem here is that Logitech didn’t officially offer it, never supported it, and therefore wasn’t under any obligation to keep it working. If you’re angry about anything, maybe consider that the control system you were using was exploiting an unsanctioned interface.
As It Happens…
It turns out that Logitech isn’t a big, heartless corporation after all. When we reached out for additional information, the company declined to comment but pointed us toward a recent update in the support forums. Responding to community feedback, Logitech is making an update available to developers, as a beta, that will allow them to use (notedly less secure) local control. Logitech will include a final version of the local control capabilities in a future firmware update for everyone, slated for January.
So that didn’t turn out so bad, did it? Some might argue that without the Internet’s collective righteous indignation, combined with arguably irresponsibly hyperbolic reporting on the issue, Logitech might not have been aptly motivated to address the issue. But we like to think that more civil discourse might have similarly prevailed.