You don’t need the ability to turn your lights on and off, adjust the thermostat, or unlock the door from your wristwatch but it’s the 21st century and with a little help from a home automation hub and a smartwatch you can live like the future is now. Read on as we show you how to control your home with your Pebble.
What Do I Need?
For the following home automation tutorials you’ll need a Pebble smartwatch and then, based on which branch of the tutorial you follow, you will also need either a Philips Hue lighting system or a Wink -based hub system–you can use either the lighting-only GE Link hub or the full-fledged Wink hub. For the purpose of the tutorial we presume that you’ve already installed and setup your system (if you have not done so please refer to the links in this paragraph to check out our review and setup guides for each product).
We’ve divided the tutorial into two sections based on the popularity of the Philips Hue lighting system and the Wink home automation hub. If you have just the Hue system (or want to use a very Hue-centric approach to your smart lighting control) then you should follow along with the first section. If you have a more diverse smarthome setup with the Wink hub you should follow along with the second section. If you’re running both systems you might consider following along only with the Wink tutorial as the Wink hub can control both its own products and the Hue system.
Note: You’ll notice in the sections below that we don’t provide direct links to the apps as we typically do with Android and iOS apps. This is because the Pebble app system is accessed through the Pebble control app on your phone and there are no direct links available. To read about and install the apps on your Pebble open the Pebble app and navigate to Menu -> Get Apps -> Search and search for the app name. Please refer to this Pebble support article if you need additional assistance.
Controlling Your Hue Lights
The Philips Hue lighting system was one of the earliest widely adopted smart lighting systems and it remains quite popular. As such it’s no surprise that there are multiple companion apps for the Hue system in the Pebble appstore (and even more experimental ones available if you troll through the Pebble forums). Although we tested multiple control apps there were only two really worth reporting on at the moment and of those two there was a clear winner in terms of simplicity and ease of use.
The first notable app is Huebble. While this was the most feature-rich Hue control app we found it wasn’t the most intuitive or simple to use. If you want the ability to finely control individual bulbs, their color settings, and other lighting variables (as well as set your bulbs to party mode and other cool tricks) then Huebble may be for you.
Strangely, there was no mechanism in Huebble to activate the lighting scenes you’d configured in the smartphone app (but it did come with four fixed presets). Huebble was the most powerful control app in terms of detailed settings but it lacked simple scene selection.
Practically speaking, we really don’t want to sit there clicking buttons on watch to make minute changes. If we were going to do that there’s little reason to not pull out the smartphone the Pebble is linked to and use a larger and more comfortable interface. Instead what we really wanted in our lighting-control experience was a simple interface that allowed us to select preset scenes we’d already programmed as well as simply turn all our smart lights on or off. To that end Simbble Hue proved to be the perfect app.
The interface is very simple and once you’ve opened the app on your watch it’s a single click to turn the lights on or off and then only two clicks to select the scene menu and then the scene you want. The scene list is populated directly from the list of scenes you’ve preprogrammed into the Hue app. To that end Simbble Hue keeps things perfectly streamlined and simple: you can turn all the lights on at once, all the lights off at once, or select a scene. There’s nothing more to the app and frankly we don’t want anymore than it offers; it’s a perfect simple-click experience.
Controlling Your Wink Hub
If you’re using the Wink home automation interface to control your smart home you can easily take control of it with your Pebble watch. You don’t even need the full Wink hub to do so either. If you’re using the Wink app on your phone to control the smaller GE Link lighting hub or even to link together Wink-friendly components like the Nest thermostat and Philips Hue Bridge you can use the control app for the Pebble.
Linking the Pebble and the Wink software is nearly identical to the Hue with a small tweak. In the previous section of the tutorial focused on the Philips Hue you just needed the official Hue app on your phone and the Pebble app of your choice on your Pebble. The Wink setup requires three things: the official Wink app on your smartphone plus both a copy of WInkControl for Pebble on your Pebble as well as the companion helper app WinkControl for iOS or Android ($1.99) on your smartphone.
Add WinkControl to your Pebble, download and run the WinkControl companion app (which is incredibly simple in nature as you do nothing with the app except verify your Wink credentials), and then you can access all your Wink app shortcuts right from your Pebble.
The great part here is that anything you can program into the Wink app as a shortcut can be triggered with a single button press from your watch. Let’s say you leave your house and you don’t want your Nest thermostat to wait to set itself away; you can create a shortcut that sets the thermostat away with a button press. Same thing with light arrangements, smart locks, garage door openers, or anything else you can add to the Wink system and create a shortcut for.
Right below the shortcuts there is a list of all the smartbulbs in your home system which you can manually toggle and adjust. Really the app combines the best of both the Hue Pebble apps we highlighted above and adds in the ability to control everything connected to the Wink system. If the goal of a wrist-based control app is to streamline everything and make interacting with the system as easy as pressing a button or two, WinkConnect really nails it and completely justifies the small $1.99 app fee.
With a tiny bit of setup you too can link your smarthome to your smartwatch and enjoy the sort of 21st century wizardy that is putting your whole house to sleep with a tap on your wrist.