Home Control Vendors Weigh in on Android
Crestron, HAI and certainly other home-control vendors will demonstrate Android apps at CEDIA; several of them discuss plans for the Google platform.
Now, home automation specialists can speak to consumers in ways they truly get.
Shortly, the home automation community will have twice the opportunity to grab the attention of consumers, thanks to Google Android which already has a rabid fan base among Droid phone users.
Like Apple’s iOS, Android has an app store with an active development community, an enthusiastic user base, and a growing number of compatible devices. Unlike Apple, Android is an open-source platform offered to software and hardware developers alike. For that reason, we will probably see many more Android-enabled devices than those employing iOS.
Custom electronics professionals can’t wait.
“I have been asked seriously 30 times about this [Android-enabled home control] and when it is coming out, mainly by other integrators, but also by architects and designers,” says Johnny Mota, principal, Vsys Automation. Currently, Mota is beta testing an Android app for Crestron home automation, under development by CommandFusion, was one of the first developers of iOS apps for automation.
David Haddad, president of Chicago-based Vidacom, is another integrator who is “very excited about the potential of integrating Android tablets with our home automation systems.”
He says, “It looks as though the Android OS will allow us to address many of the limitations that the Apple OS has imposed on us. We will now have the ability to design the devices home screen, wake the touchscreen when someone is at the door, and so on. I can’t see this additional competition between Apple and Google as having anything but a positive benefit on the industry, giving us more choices and options.”
Blake Krikorian, founder of Sling Media, is so enamored of Android that he built an app for his own Crestron automation system. That app will be running on a few Samsung Galaxy Tabs and Dell Streaks during CEDIA.
Recently, we asked home control vendors what they think about Android. Here’s what some of them had to say.
HomeSeer, Mark Colegrove
Android OS support is going to be huge for us, since a LOT of hardware seems to be heading that way. There’s already a lot of buzz about it in our user channel. Couple things:
Our HSTouch Android client is slated for release next month and will work with all HomeSeer systems (HS2, HSPRO, HomeTroller and PRO-100).
Our HomeTroller PRO S3 ($1,300 retail) includes HSTouch at no extra cost and that’s where the Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile support comes from.
Cinemar, Mario Cascio
The days of single-task expensive devices are rapidly going away. With Android quickly dominating the intelligent phone market it is only natural to see its range extended to multi-purpose intelligent devices competing directly in the iPad space.
The Android Tegra 2-based tablets will be great contenders for Apple if they can match the performance, battery life, price, weight and form factor of the iPad. Throw in a docking cradle and we’ve got a real winner.
Cinemar is working on a version of MainLobby that will run on Android Tegra 2-based devices. Because of their native support for Flash, it’s a much easier transition for Cinemar. We’re excited about the buzz and the ability to put our user interface onto sub-$500 devices throughout the home.
Home Automation Inc. (HAI), Jay McLellan
We believe Android will be a very popular operating system for mobile devices and smart TVs.
HAI is developing a version of Snap Link Mobile for Android. Comparing the platforms, we are excited to see the wide variety of Android devices that can act as user interfaces. This is appealing to manufacturers and users, and I expect to see incredible innovation in hardware and software for Android.
Apple, already the standard to beat, will no doubt advance its own state of the art. From a development standpoint, Apple provides a consistent topology for development and sale of a product, and Apple’s tight control can be a help and a hindrance. There are many more variables with Android (screen size, device capability, sales channel, etc.) but this will allow a wider variety of new products and systems to emerge.
HAI will be demonstrating an Android app at CEDIA Expo.
AMX, Rashid Skaf
Ultimately it’s not particularly important which is the hot device at a point in time. What we see to be the real trend is users viewing all their networked devices as service portals through which they increasingly expect to be able to reach all their services, home control being just one. So a home control system won’t be defined or limited by the interface device brand any more than your e-mail is. In fact, home owners will want and expect to be able to control their home through all their devices including their favorite mobile phone, home computer, dedicated control panels and remotes, and televisions.
Control4, Eric Smith
We see Android being very important to our industry on many fronts. In the mobile phone industry it appears that Android will be the leading platform. Android cellphone shipments surpassed iPhone a couple of months ago. At Control4 we are working hard to deliver an Android cell phone application.
Android is also becoming very important in the new Google TV platform. Just like in the cell phone industry it is difficult for manufacturers to ignore the platform that will Internet-enable their TVs and is free of charge. Clearly Google is doing this in order to own the app platform and search on every conceivable device.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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