Let’s address the two dozen little elephants in the room: swapping all my smart home devices to a new Wi-Fi network shouldn’t be as boring as it is. I recently upgraded to a new router which means the SSID (network name) has changed. Every smart device in my house had to be reconnected to the new network, but what I found was that there isn’t a consistent way to do it.
This is further exacerbated by the fact that some devices, like the Amazon Echo, require you to press a physical button on the device as part of the switch. Smart home technology is only as smart as its weakest link, and the difficulty of exchanging networks is needlessly frustrating.
Smart home technology must be accessible in one place
A smart home hub should function as a central control, rather than just a way to quickly control devices. The most used system in my house is Alexa, and I use the Alexa app to monitor and control the majority of devices in my home. If the device is Amazon branded, I can change its network through the Alexa app.
However, with any other brand, I have to download this specific app just to change a few settings. Some of these apps that I no longer have on my phone. Take TP-Link as an example. I have used it to configure multiple smart plugs, but that was two years ago. The outlets can all be controlled through the Alexa app. So when I upgraded my phone, I never downloaded the TP-Link app. There was – and still should be – no need.
If I can control a device through Alexa, I should also be able to change its Wi-Fi network through Alexa. If my Echo Show acts as a smart home hub, compatible devices should grant full and total control from the hub – failing to do so negates the purpose of using a hub.
Smart home products need to connect to the phone’s Wi-Fi
I have never used anything other than my mobile device to set up a smart home product. Of course, this can be done using a tablet or an iPad, but the phone is the default system. Why, then, don’t the devices automatically choose to connect to the phone’s network during the setup phase?
Some devices ask you if you want to connect to the current network, and that’s a step in the right direction. Others create their own local network for the purpose of configuring the device, a step that never created more than additional complications.
If my phone is connected to a certain Wi-Fi network while I am setting up a smart home device, it should automatically choose that network rather than asking. A secondary selection screen that confirms the choice would be acceptable in case I have a secondary home network that I would prefer the devices to be turned on, but again, why wouldn’t my phone be on that network as well?
I don’t want to reset devices when I change networks
Another huge downside is smart home devices that need to be reset when swapping networks. My Google Nest Hub is like this; when i swap it to another wi-fi network, sometimes i have to reset the whole device and erase it from all settings. It is quite tedious to manually change the Wi-Fi address of each device. The setup process only makes matters worse.
Although there are many device settings stored on my phone, if I need to remove the device from the app and remove it from home setup before I can reinstall it, I lose those settings. Problems do arise from time to time, but the consistency with which Nest products have required this step is infuriating.
The root of the problem lies in the programming of devices, but also in networking. If your Wi-Fi network goes down, you can’t easily control your smart home devices without erasing them and putting them back into setup mode.
If I could control my products over Bluetooth as easily as over Wi-Fi, losing a network would not eliminate my ability to control them. It would also allow my smart home devices to work if the internet was down. Many devices can be controlled both over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but it’s a strange oversight that not all of them can be controlled that way.
The question, hopefully, poses a solution
Despite having encountered this issue many times, I cannot think of a solution that properly fixes the connectivity issues. The only platform that offers a real solution is Matter.
The Matter Protocol has created a lot of enthusiasm in the smart home world. Many users place high hopes in this platform and its promises to demolish the walled gardens of the Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit ecosystems. Matter promises to facilitate greater connectivity between smart home devices, even those that haven’t traditionally worked together.
This improved connectivity could eliminate the need to configure devices through individual apps. At the very least, it could allow users to set up smart home devices through a hub – and it would solve many of the problems associated with switching from one Wi-Fi network to another.
No one really knows how the material will work in practice. The ideal solution would be a single way to transmit data and information to all your devices at once through a hub. The Amazon Echo Show is one of the few devices that you set up entirely on the device thanks to its display. It can also serve as a hub. If these features were combined in some way, it might be possible to change the Wi-Fi network on all your smart home devices at the same time.
Again, this is speculation – the desperate search for an answer from someone who is fed up with boredom. At this point, I could enter my Wi-Fi name and password with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back. Slipping the text into my phone has become as familiar as my own signature. There must be a simpler solution.
Smart home technology has come a long way since its inception, when installation and control was much more difficult and opaque. Even with that in mind, I feel like there is still a long way to go before these little issues are completely resolved.