New Developer Tools Will Enable More Local Devices
Samsung SmartThings announced today a set of tools it is collectively calling the SmartThings Edge. These tools will allow more devices and automations to run locally on SmartThings hubs. This is the latest announcement from Samsung’s smart home platform as it continues to move on from legacy development platforms, hardware, and apps.
The transition from the old SmartThings platform to the new one has been met with consternation. But we’re finally starting to see the fruit of what the past year’s worth of change has been heading towards. SmartThings released a revamped app at the beginning of June with an improved user experience. Now SmartThings Edge brings an improved home automation experience. There are two pieces to SmartThings Edge: local automations and local devices. Pushing both of these locally to the hub will result in faster automations, stability when the internet is out, and improved security for SmartThings Hub users. If you’re a DIY home automation power user, the more local automations the better, especially with competition from the likes of Hubitat and Home Assistant gaining momentum.
Local Automations in SmartThings Edge
The idea of running automations locally on SmartThings isn’t new. In fact, it was one of the selling points of the SmartThings V2 hub when it came out in 2015. But those expectations fell flat when the hub could only run certain automations (i.e. SmartApps) and devices locally. When Samsung debuted the SmartThings Rules API in 2019, it touted flexible automation creation and future support for local automations. That promise arrived in June of this year. Using the Automation option in the mobile app, which uses Rules API in the background, anybody can now create automations for SmartThings hub-connected devices that run locally.
Currently, you can use the SmartThings app to create local automations for specific device types. This includes Z-wave and Zigbee lights, switches, buttons, motion sensors, locks, contact sensors, Smoke/CO sensors, and water sensors. Local automations can include equals, between, greater than, less than, and a few other conditions. We would expect these local-enabled automation conditions for the Rules API to expand over time, hopefully, to include things like remains for X time and more sensors.
Local automations have also been limited by the device type. You could only use a limited set of Z-Wave and Zigbee devices natively supported by SmartThings. But that has now changed…
Local Devices in SmartThings Edge
The biggest news of SmartThings Edge is that you can now run all hub-connected devices locally on a SmartThings hub. In the current Groovy device type handler environment, anything using custom code must run in the cloud, which then pushes any automation with that device to the cloud. That changes with SmartThings Edge, and so does some terminology. Device type handlers (DTH) under Edge are called device drivers. They use Lua for their code instead of Groovy.
Starting today, SmartThings hubs running firmware 38.0 and above now support both Groovy DTH and Lua drivers. This allows a transition period for developers to use the new Lua driver command-line interface (CLI) to replicate their current Groovy DTHs to the new developer environment. Using the CLI, individual, community, and company developers will be able to make local-enabled device drivers for Zigbee, Z-wave, and LAN devices, with more protocols coming in the future, including Matter.
Sharing drivers will also get easier. Gone is the current clunky method of finding a Github repo, copying the code, pasting the code to your account, saving, and publishing it. Developers will be able to save a Lua device driver via the SmartThings CLI and generate a URL that they can then distribute to interested SmartThings users. Those users can follow the link, log in with their credentials, and authorize installing it. They are then automatically subscribed to updates for that driver. If you’re a company looking to distribute your driver, you’ll follow the current publication path to get your brand and device listed in the SmartThings app, so your users don’t even need to follow a URL to install a driver.
Can We Be Optimistic?
Between the app improvements in June and SmartThings Edge, Samsung SmartThings seems to be turning the corner out of the past with their platform. The challenge to make the app easy to use for newcomers and keep longtime power users happy is certainly a tall feat. SmartThings Edge looks like a big win for everyone, and we look forward to testing it more in the future. Stay tuned to The Digital Media Zone and SmartThingsBeat for future SmartThings news.