Philips Hue Has a Very Welcomed Software Update and 3 New Outdoor Lights

Photo: Hue

After a slew of releases in the back half of 2019, Philips Hue is back at CES 2020 showing off an essential software upgrade to its Sync Box, bringing another feature out of beta, and adding three new products to its range of outdoor lighting.

At launch, the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box finally allowed Hue users to more easily pair their smart lights with the content being displayed on their TVs, instead of being forced to connect to a PC. However, unlike almost all of its lights, Hue’s Sync Box didn’t support voice controls or integration with popular digital assistants, which meant you had to open up the dedicated Hue Sync app anytime you wanted to change a setting.

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But soon, thanks to a free software update due out in the spring, Sync Box owners will now be able to control their device using voice controls with the Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. While you won’t be able to adjust every single setting using your voice, the three most important functions have been integrated including the ability to turn light syncing on and off, switch HDMI inputs, and toggle between various lighting modes—all simply by asking nicely.

Theoretically, this means once you have your Sync Box setup and dialed in the way you like it, you’ll never have to open the Hue Sync app again.

As for the standard Hue app, after being introduced as a beta trial, Philips Hue is now making its Zones feature a permanent addition. Hue’s Zone feature allows users to group together a specific set of Hue lights regardless of their location for more granular control, instead of being forced to organize lights strictly by what room they are in.

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Additionally, Zones will now also work with accessories like the Hue Dimmer Switch or the Hue Smart Buttons or even third-party Friends of Hue Switches, so you can set a specific switch to control multiple lights across various floors or only a certain corner of your living room or dining area.

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Lastly, for those thinking about adding smart lights to the property surrounding their house, Hue is expanding its lineup of outdoor lights with three new products including the $140 wall-mounted Appear fixture, the $140 Lily XL spotlight, and a $130 low-voltage pedestal version of the Hue Econic Light.

All three lights support Hue’s full range of white ambiance and colored lighting, with the Appear intended to flank entryways like doors and gates, while the Lily XL spotlight and Hue Econic pedestal are more suited to lighting walkways and paths.

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While those hoping for a bunch of new Hue bulbs or upgraded versions of the Hue’s popular light strips might be somewhat disappointed with these new offerings, given the number of new products Hue has been pumping out lately, it’s nice to see Hue add new functionality to its core app while also supporting existing products with new models and features.

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About the author

Sam Rutherford

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.