HomePod Why does the HomePod require the Hue bridge but the Echo Plus does not?

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by Kermit262, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. Kermit262 macrumors 6502

    Kermit262

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2014
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    #1
    Now that I have a HomePod I'm considering Philips Hue lights. I’ve read that I need the Hue bridge along with the lights. But here’s where I’m confused: we have an Echo Plus in our bedroom, which is a home hub, and it controls a Hue light-bulb with no Hue bridge required (in fact that’s why we bought the Echo Plus and not just the Echo, since the Plus has the built-in home hub). The Apple HomePod is also a home hub, and yet the HomePod requires the Hue bridge. Why does the Apple HomePod need the Hue bridge when the Echo Plus does not? Shouldn’t they each require the Hue bridge?
     
  2. TrueBlou, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    TrueBlou macrumors 68040

    TrueBlou

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    #2
    It’s simply because the Echo Plus has a built in Zigbee hub to connect compatible devices. Zigbee is a standard created to allow devices to talk to each other. So any one device which uses the Zigbee protocol can talk to any other Zigbee device directly.

    The Hue also uses the Zigbee protocol, which is why the lights can connect directly to the Echo Plus without the Hue hub. The Hue Hub is very similar to what’s built into the Echo, it’s just a connection point for Zigbee devices. Any Zigbee device will work with any Zigbee hub, no matter who makes it.

    The HomePod on the other hand isn’t actually a hub in that sense. It doesn’t contain any protocols to directly connect to those kinds of devices.

    Really you can think of the HomePod, or indeed Apple TV as more of a router for smart devices than a “hub” in the sense you’re thinking of it. It’s a central connection point for HomeKit devices but without any other protocols beyond HomeKit.
     
  3. Kermit262 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Kermit262

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    #3
    Thanks for that. I get it now. I assumed all home hubs were created equal - that is clearly not the case.
     
  4. TrueBlou macrumors 68040

    TrueBlou

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    #4
    Sadly not. There are actually dozens of different ones and they are not all necessarily compatible with each other.

    You will find devices which contain multiple different protocols, so as to be compatible with as many products as possible. But you’ll also find others which require their own specific hub as the connection point for their products. The hub then in turn may communicate with other devices with different protocols.

    It’s basically a way for companies to make more money out of you and in some cases to try and tie you in to their products ecosystem.

    When you’re buying anything to use with your HomePod, always check that it’s HomeKit compatible and as you’ve discovered, whether it needs a hub to communicate with HomeKit.

    On the bright side, if you were to buy a Hue hub, that would then give you the ability to buy and connect any brand of lights which are Zigbee compatible.
    There’s lots of them and some vastly cheaper than the Hue bulbs, yet they will still connect and work properly with the Hue hub and in turn, your HomePod.
     
  5. Endorphine88 macrumors 6502

    Endorphine88

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    #5
    Correct me if I'm wrong. Aren't you able to use an iPad or Apple TV as a hub ?
     
  6. TrueBlou, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    TrueBlou macrumors 68040

    TrueBlou

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    #6
    As a HomeKit Hub, yes most certainly. But not as a hub to directly connect things like Hue bulbs. There’s no Zigbee protocol built into the Apple devices, there’s only HomeKit which is an entirely different kettle of fish. Which is why, for Hue, you need their hub to act as a Zigbee interface between the lights and the HomeKit Hub.

    You do get lights which have HomeKit compatibility built in, so they connect directly to a HomeKit Hub, but the Hue ones do not have that capability.

    I think that’s part of the problem with every manufacturer calling the product a “Hub”. It does tend to suggest that one would be much the same as another. The truth unfortunately is very far from that.

    I think it’s better to think of them as interfaces rather than a generic hub. As many manufacturers have their own products which use their own language to communicate and require an interface to communicate with other products. Kind of like an interpreter for a foreign language.
     
  7. Endorphine88 macrumors 6502

    Endorphine88

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    #7
    Thanks so much for the clarification. I still only have everything hooked to Alexa only and only use the HomePod for music and alarms so I didnt even know that I need to make sure everything I get going forward needs to be HomeKit compatible. Ugh. I thought all this was supposed to be all about easy set up o_O
     
  8. TrueBlou macrumors 68040

    TrueBlou

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    #8
    Yes it’s a rather annoying situation because there isn’t a single industry standard for these things (yet.) but there are as usual work arounds for many things.

    Without too much hassle you can use an inexpensive Raspberry Pi to setup a software package called Homebridge (essentially making your own hub) this amazing little combination allows a great many devices which are not otherwise compatible with HomeKit, to interface via the Pi and become HomeKit compatible.

    You can run the software on computers and other devices but I’ve found the Pi to be most reliable.

    It would at least posssibly open up any incompatible devices you may have to the HomePod/Apple TV. There are hundreds of supported products in Homebridge and there’s more added all of the time.
     
  9. cyb3rdud3 macrumors 65816

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    UK
    #9
    Out of interest, can you use the echo plus to actually update the hue bulbs? I understand you would need to philips hub for that. Besides you get it “free” with every starter pack anyway.
     
  10. TrueBlou, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    TrueBlou macrumors 68040

    TrueBlou

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    #10
    Scratch what I wrote before. After a quick look at the Echo Plus details I’m not entirely certain it will be able to do updates.

    There may be issues with the signing of the firmware package and verification which would be required in the Hue hub.

    That said, there’s no harm in trying it. It is after all Zigbee compatible, so if there’s no signing issues it should work.

    With the Phillips Hue app installed on your iPhone you’ll soon find out if updates can be performed by checking in the settings.

    If it says an update is available then there’s a very good chance it will install it.

    There’s no harm in trying it, you can’t do any damage.
     
  11. cyb3rdud3 macrumors 65816

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    UK
    #11
    I've got about five hubs now :) Why would I want to use an echo....As I said the hub are 'free' with starter packs, and are the same cost vs buying the bulbs individually...
     

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10 February 14, 2018