Samsung is continuing its quest to make its SmartThings platform your smart home app of choice, overhauling the interface, making the platform more friendly to tinkerers, and even bundling it with the company’s line of fancy Bespoke kitchen appliances.
Now the company is making a standalone screen for controlling the smart home. Called the Home Hub, it’s a a docked tablet—think of the universal remote control from back in the satellite TV days. (Which, uh, wasn’t that long ago.)
You can use the Home Hub to turn off your Samsung TV, check on your appliances’ status, and monitor their energy use. The Home Hub will offer the same functions as the SmartThings app on your smartphone and work with other Samsung services, like SmartThings Cooking and Samsung’s Clothing Care system.
To put it more simply: if you’re planning on going all-in with Samsung in your home, the Home Hub will unite it all. The tablet is debuting in Korea first, but of course you can always use the app on your phone and there’s still the third-party SmartThings hub from Aeotec that you can buy now to help you get things synced up. Samsung’s Home Hub is meant to be a supplemental smart home device rather than a replacement for existing devices.
The Home Hub will be compatible with not-yet-released Matter standard. Samsung has publicly committed to supporting Matter once devices become available in 2022.
Samsung’s SmartThings connected home platform is almost a decade old. But despite the sprawling existence of virtual assistants and smart displays, it still feels like the “home of the future” is struggling to find its footing.
The Home Hub offers a bit of an edge over Google and Amazon’s voice-first smart home platforms. Samsung is leaning into what it does best—making hardware. Interestingly, it’s going the physical device route rather than pushing hard on its virtual assistant, Bixby, which still exists but no one uses. A dedicated tablet with the SmartThings app front and center also seems like it would also be more approachable for those who don’t like to use a voice assistant and want a dedicated remote control for their smart home.
Samsung also announced at CES 2022 that it’s a founding member of the Home Connectivity Alliance, or HCA, which it started “to ensure that having devices across multiple brands doesn’t require you to compromise your smart home experience.” This group of companies will be separate from the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the committee helping launch Matter and where Samsung is also a member.
You might be wondering how it’s at all useful for consumers for another alliance to be working on smart home interoperability when Matter still hasn’t launched, and, well, that part is still unclear.