Control4 Adds Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, AirPlay in OS 2.8; Updates Video Intercom Big-Time
At CEDIA Expo 2015, Control4 showcases new streaming content partners and ShairBridge tech for native AirPlay; DS2 door station is major improvement with independent IP camera.
Julie Jacobson · October 15, 2015
At CEDIA Expo 2015, Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) is reminding the industry that it is still all about custom integration. The company is announcing several UI and performance enhancements for its existing home automation line with the release of OS 2.8. And we’ll see a vastly improved outdoor video intercom station, as well.
Streaming and Sharing
One of the most highly anticipated features in 2.8 is support for Pandora, Deezer and Tidal streaming services, adding to Control4’s existing streaming partners Rhapsody and Tunein.
“It’s all native, built into the controller,” says Brad Hintze, Control4 director of product marketing.
In the past, he says, Control4 could support these additional services, but only through third-party providers such as Autonomic and Sonos. Now customers will be able to enjoy the new streaming services throughout the house, without the addition of third-party boxes that are authorized by the content providers.
What took so long for Control4 to add these popular services?
“The big deal,” says Hintze, “is working out deals with the content providers.”
Autonomic, which makes the Mirage Media Servers, has discussed at length the importance of working with content providers directly, rather than through back doors. It’s not an easy proposition to do it right.
One particularly useful integration feature is the ability for Control4 to access the thumbs up/down function of Pandora. On the CEDIA show floor, Control4 has a keypad showing the music options as well as the up/down icons.
Another big development in music-sharing for Control4 is its implementation of AirPlay, embodied in a new feature called ShairBridge. The Apple service is available through the OS 2.8 software upgrade for Control4’s existing HC800 controller.
Marrying AirPlay with Control4 offers some unique possibilities like grouping rooms, “which AirPlay doesn’t really allow you to do,” says Hintze. “It’s kind of a big deal.”
At CEDIA, Control4 has set up listening stations to get the full high-resolution audio bliss from Tidal. (Sadly, Deezer is still locked up in an exclusivity agreement with Sonos for its "high def" music service Deezer Elite. If you want to use that service with Control4, you'll have to do it by way of Sonos.)
Dealers can access tunes from the company’s new grid-style interface, with album covers shown in full HD glory – all part of the OS 2.8 upgrade.
The new interface for both audio and video offers much richer metadata than earlier versions and, importantly, “much better search results,” according to Paul Williams, VP lighting and comfort products at Control4
New Video Intercom
Control4 had a front-door video intercom already, but the new one is significantly better because it has an independent camera, with its own IP address, that can be operated separately from the Intercom itself.
The older version treats the video intercom as a single unit, so integrators cannot isolate the camera from the call.
In the new model, video from the camera shows up alongside every other camera in the Control4 UI, whether that UI comes from Control4’s own touchscreens, TV on-screen display or iOS or Android mobile devices. Click to view Control4 images and screen shots
Previously, users had to go to the “intercom” page to call up images from the front door station.
The new DS2 is available for both in-wall and on-wall mounting, with or without a keypad. An adapter plate is available for customers who wish to upgrade from the existing door station.
The SIP-enabled unit requires power and an Ethernet connection.
Other new features of the DS2 include better low-light performance, motion detection and email snapshots.
More on OS 2.8 and Control4
We have plenty more Control4 news to share, including the company’s extraordinary new support for third-party security systems and improved user experiences like last year’s thermostat enhancements.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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