Philips has updated its Hue App for iOS and Android with a brand new UI designed to make it easier to live with and interact with its smart connected lighting solution.

Hue is one of the most popular smart lighting systems currently on the market, but in recent years Philips has been criticised for its clunky UI. The UI was unpopular amongst some consumers, which meant it spawned a whole ecosystem of third-party Apps to replicate the functionality of the first-party App.

Philips’ latest overhaul has completely changed how users interact with and control their Hue lighting system. While there’s not much in the way of functionality, some have already said that the new App feels like dealing with a completely different system.

With the original Philips Hue App the company went down the traditional route of managing the lighting by scenes, rather than by rooms. With the latest App that’s all changed, as the first screen users will see will be groupings of lights by room.

While that may disappoint some of those who enjoyed the old scene control, users who just want to control the colour, brightness or state of each lightbulb with ease and little fuss, can do so with the new UI. In fact, users will be able to control each lightbulb from as little as three taps within the App.

The ability to manage lights by room is a useful step up from ‘scenes’, arguably the most important addition for those who love home automation will be Philips’ ‘routines’ functionality.

In the old App it was possible to set up alarms and timers for when the lights would come on and turn off, but with routines this functionality has become far more intuitive. For example, users will be able to set up a ‘wake up’ routine that modifies the colour temperature of the bulbs and slowly makes it brighter, to mimic a sunrise.

There’s also a ‘nightlight’ feature which follows the trend set by Apple and Google, by reducing the blue wavelength light emitted by the bulbs which can make it harder to fall asleep.

For when users are not even home, then the Hue 2.0 App offers a ‘home and away’ functionality for managing the lights depending on occupancy. That means even if a user sets a routine to turn on the light, it will only activate if the Hue App detects that the user is home.

‘Scenes’ is not completely gone in the latest Hue update, with the feature getting a slight upgrade thanks to the new UI. Philips has got rid of the manual colour selection process that was required in the original App and instead users uploading an image will see the five most vibrant colours from that sample and create a custom lighting scheme from those.

Finally, the widgets functionality has also been enhanced. Users can now control up to 10 sets of lights from the OS’ drop-down homescreen, without ever having to launch the Hue App itself. This makes it even faster to manage lights; a common criticism of App-based lighting control systems.

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