Review: Athom Homey 2.0 – Smart home hub for all your smart devices

4.5/5 - (58 votes)

If you follow the developments in the smart home market a bit, you probably know the Homey. This product, a so-called smart home hub, is from Dutch soil and was introduced in 2014. The goal of the Homey is to bring all your smart home equipment together in one hub to make automating your home easy. We are now four years on and ready for Athom Homey 2.0, a new version of the software that should make automation even easier and more user-friendly. In this review we look at the Homey 2.0.

What is the Homey?

Athom’s Homey is a so-called smart home hub, with which you can link all the devices in your smart home and access them to operate them or use them in scenes (Flows). The linked devices can be controlled from the Homey app and you can add the devices to groups or scenes (Flows) with which you can have certain devices automatically respond to a specific input. The hub can handle WiFi, Bluetooth, radio frequencies, infrared, Zigbee and Z-Wave, among others. In addition, via the Homey Appstore there are apps for almost all popular smarthome products so that you can easily connect them to the hub. You can now even link Homey to a professional KNX system. The goal is also evident here; merging all your smart home equipment in one central place,

Athom Homey 2.0

Athom Homey 2.0 and new hardware

A major software update for Homey has been available since the beginning of this year. This is a free software update for all Homey’s sold and mainly comes down to a brand new smartphone app. Users can now find and use all the functions of the hub in the application. You can view, manage and add other devices, create and manage Flows, set alarms and set and manage all kinds of other variables. The desktop application, which previously could also be used to create extensive Flows, can no longer be used after the update. Athom is therefore fully committed to a user-friendly app that should make it even easier to automate your home yourself.

Homey Insights has also changed completely. Previously, this part could take up quite a bit of space, so you had to quickly delete data. That problem has now been reduced: users can store and view information for up to two years. The company has achieved this by converting older data into averages, which also means that less space is needed.

The Homey Music item is an item that has been deleted. When you have version 2.0 on your smartphone or tablet, you can now control speakers and other audio devices like any other device in the house. And depending on the speaker, it is possible to start a Flow in the form of a song, playlist or radio station. Support for voice control from Homey itself has also been pushed to the background. Instead, you can now integrate the hub with the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

In addition, there are now also experimental functions for which there is no official support, in the form of Apple Homekit , Virtual Devices and Built-in Microphone. Furthermore, the Athom team has ensured that the use of the Homey has become safer again and of course a number of small improvements have been made behind the scenes.

New Athom Homey products

Athom has also announced two new Homey’s. The first is the Homey Pro. This version has been developed with the power user in mind. On board is a dual-core CPU clocked at 1 GHz, together with 1 GB of RAM, so that twice as many applications can be used. The Homey Pro costs 399 euros. Then we have the Homey (Early 2019). This is the next generation of Homey, but intended for the normal user. Athom promises that this is the best Homey experience to date, especially in combination with the software update Homey version 2.0. Both Homey’s have differences from the first model. For example, the nfc chip and microphones were removed, because it turned out that users did not use them often. The new Homey costs 299. In this review we look at the Homey (Early 2019).

A stylish sphere as the centerpiece of the house

At first glance, the Homey is not an advanced computer that you place in your home. It is even a stylish addition to the interior. The small, spherical device stands on three silver-colored legs, comes with a pulsating or colored LED ring and is neatly finished. Using the USB cable, the Homey can be connected to an electrical outlet and you actually don’t have to worry about it anymore. You can also adjust the brightness of the LED ring downwards or let the Homey show it again by means of colors.

Athom Homey 2.0

Simple installation

Although the Athom has been used in recent years mainly by people with knowledge of programming, the goal of the latest update is to also attract users with less extensive knowledge. And a user-friendly platform naturally starts with a simple installation. Athom has now mastered that part well, because the Homey can be installed and used within a few minutes. The first step is to go to the setup page of the Homey website, after which you follow a small number of steps to link the Homey to your own network and an account to be created. Then you download the app, log in and you can start.

Athom Homey 2.0

Athom Homey 2.0 app

A very important aspect of the latest update is the completely renewed app. This Homey app is the center of your home, where you can find all your devices, where you can create Flows and where you can adjust settings. The app has a fresh and modern look, works smoothly and offers very extensive options for automating your home. The only downside is that the app can sometimes (especially at startup) lose the connection with the hub for a few seconds.

Athom Homey 2.0

The Homey app is user-friendly and structured. Everything has a logical place, so you can quickly find what you are looking for. However, you can also dive into the settings as deep as you want. The Home screen provides an overview of favorite devices, favorite Flows and important events on a timeline. Here you can, for example, activate a device directly (add it as a favorite) or start a Flow immediately. The Devices tab provides an overview of all linked smart home devices. You can add these devices to zones in the house yourself, for example the living room or bedroom. The third tab is called Flows and is the part with which you can automate your home. Here you create scenarios / scenes in the form of; if this, then that. The last tab is called More and gives you access to the installed (and to be installed) apps, alarm clocks, Logic elements and all the settings of the Homey itself. These settings include the memory usage of the Homey, the management of notifications and location settings, the addition of users and the integration of voice assistants.

Athom Homey 2.0

Connect your smart home equipment with Athom Homey 2.0

Now that the Homey has been set up and is ready for use, the next step is to connect smart devices that you have at home. If you already have many devices that can be controlled with an app, it can be difficult to know for yourself what is and what is not compatible with the Homey, but fortunately most of the (popular and well-known) devices are compatible, for example via the Z-Wave standard or via direct support through an app in the Homey Appstore. Via the Devices tab you can search for yourself by entering the brand of one of your smart home devices, for example Nest, Hue or Samsung. You will then see what support is offered via apps. For example, if you search for Nest, you will see the Nest app. If you click on this, you will see the devices that can be added in the next screen, in this case the Nest Protect and Nest Thermostat. And here we also immediately see that not 100 percent of all smart home products are supported. We do not come across the Nest doorbell and cameras here, but you could add them via IFTTT in a detour. The only disadvantage of this solution is that the rules then work via the servers of IFTTT, the relevant manufacturer (Nest for example) and Homey. This can cause delays and errors. If you do not want to use IFTTT, you have to wait for an update of the app or a solution from the community. The only disadvantage of this solution is that the rules then work via the servers of IFTTT, the relevant manufacturer (Nest for example) and Homey. This can cause delays and errors. If you do not want to use IFTTT, you have to wait for an update of the app or a solution from the community. The only disadvantage of this solution is that the rules then work via the servers of IFTTT, the relevant manufacturer (Nest for example) and Homey. This can cause delays and errors. If you do not want to use IFTTT, you have to wait for an update of the app or a solution from the community.

When you have chosen the product you want to add, you will be asked (if applicable) to log in to that party and give permission to access your products. As soon as that is done, the products are searched in your house and once found they are placed in the overview of devices. Not everything is immediately placed in the correct zone / room, even if you have already indicated this correctly in the Philips Hue app, for example. You will therefore have to assign the devices to the correct space yourself. In the case of Philips Hue, all scenes that are on the Hue hub are also linked. These are also old scenes and scenes that have been created by third parties (for example an alarm app). And in our case, in addition to the clear, self-created scenes, dozens of vague, old scenes can be seen.

Almost all products that we have in house can be added directly to the Homey app in a few steps. Only the LG webOS TV (2018), for which an app is available, does not want to connect itself for the time being. It is a bug that, according to the makers, will be fixed in a future update of the webOS app (luckily), but it shows that there is no guarantee that something will work for sure. Most of it worked without problems, so we can now start using the products below to automate the house and create Flows;

  • Hue lighting (30 lamps)
  • Hue sensors (3 pieces)
  • Hue switches (4 pieces)
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Nest Protect
  • Neato Botvac vacuum cleaner
  • Denon AV receiver
  • Logitech Harmony Hub (remote control, whose Activities can be added separately)
  • Spotify Connect devices (can be added separately as a Connect device to be able to stream Spotify to it, so for example the Denon receiver is in it twice)
  • Speakers with Google Cast (3 pieces)
  • Google Home Mini
  • Sonos One
  • Smart plug TP-Link
  • LG webOS TV
  • Nest cameras (IFTTT)

Automate with Flows

It is of course nice that you can now operate all those added devices via one app, although in some cases that operation is limited. But, what makes it really nice is that you can now use those devices and sensors to automate a number of things. This is done through the ‘if this, then that’ principle. This means that the Homey receives input from device / sensor A and that an action is triggered with device B (or multiple devices) with that input. You can make this as advanced as you want, provided you have devices and sensors that you can use in all directions. When starting this as a novice user, it is wise to stick to simple Flows first, so that you understand the principle and can also test how something works for you.

A simple Flow is for example; The sun goes down (if this), then the garden lights come on (then that). You can specify this even further by indicating, for example, that the lights come on 10 minutes before the sun sets and that a specific Hue scene is used when switching on the lights. But, does turning on the lights make sense when you are not at home? No, so we have to add something for that in the ‘And’ column. To this we add a ticket for Presence, on the condition that someone (it doesn’t matter which of the users, it must be users) is at home. The Flow then becomes; 10 minutes before the sun goes down (if this) and someone is home (and this) then the garden lights come on with the Hue scene Ibiza (then that). This is a fairly simple Flow, but it does show you what the basic options are. You can even test the Flow before activating it by clicking ‘test’ at the bottom of the Flow. The ‘then that’ part is then executed for you so that you see the result.

A slightly more advanced Flow is the Good Morning Flow that we have created. This Flow is activated by the Philips Hue motion sensor, which hangs down in the hallway. Nobody passes by there at night, but the first person to get up in the morning does. So when that sensor detects a movement, the Good Morning Flow is started. We then get the following Flow: The motion detector switches on (if this) and the time is between 07:00 and 08:30 on Monday to Friday (and this), then the temperature is set to 19 degrees (Nest), Homey says’ Good morning ‘, NPO 2 radio is cast to the speakers in the living room and the volume of those speakers is set to 30%. As you can see, with multiple cards in the ‘then that’ section, you can connect multiple devices and create a complete scene.

If you have quite a few sensors, lamps and devices, you can use a variety of inputs. You can even use the temperature sensor of the Hue motion sensor for ‘like this’, where you indicate, for example, that when the temperature of this sensor drops below 17 degrees, the thermostat of that room is turned on. And the buttons of the Hue Switch can be programmed yourself, for example to activate a speaker on which Spotify is played. Devices and sensors that have a battery or battery can also supply its status as input. For example, you can have yourself sent a notification by means of a Flow that the battery of a sensor falls below a certain level. In addition to all devices and sensors, you can use the app to input inputs such as presence, location, date and time, Use sunrise and sunset, speech, alarm clocks, reminders and even a different Flow as input. Via the Homey Appstore you can add services to this, such as Outdoor radar and an hourglass function with which you can create timers yourself, for example for a lamp with a motion sensor.

Important; if you have a Homey from early 2019 or newer, the cards with voice commands can no longer be used. You can add them but since the hardware microphone has disappeared, the card will not work.

More advanced capabilities

I have already discussed it in a number of examples above, but you can also work with tags and variables. The novice user will not want to get burned by this yet, but once you are experienced in creating Flows and want to research and learn yourself, the tags and variables offer even more possibilities to create Flows. A tag is a specific line that you hang on a card. For example; the ‘temperature’ tag of the Hue motion sensor is created by Homey immediately when the sensor is connected. The same applies to the brightness, battery level, CO2 value, etc. of various sensors. You can then use the tag that is created to create a Flow. If the temperature of the Hue sensor (if this) falls below 17 degrees, then turn on the thermostat (then that).

If you want to go even further, you can start working with variables, and the Better Logic app is especially recommended. Variables allow you to create more specific Flows and also request specific information about your home. Take, for example, the Boolean variable that you use with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. If you activate your alarm system with a button at the door, you have this variable converted to ‘Yes’ via a Flow, which means that no one is at home and the alarm is on. You can then use the Boolean variable to trigger other Flows. So ‘If Boolean variable is set to Yes, then activate Flow X, Y and Z’. The possibilities with regard to variables are endless but require your own research, a lot of trying and asking for help from the community.

Voice control

The previous generation of the Homey had a microphone with its own voice control built in. However, most users were not really satisfied with its operation and there are already well-functioning voice assistants on the market. This has resulted in Homey’s voice control being removed, and the microphone has also disappeared on the new hardware. This means that voice control directly via the Homey is no longer possible, but support for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa is built-in. This allows you, for example, to ask Google to let Homey do something. For example; Hey Google, ask Homey to turn on the vacuum. You can control all equipment via voice in this way and even start Flows. It does not work completely smoothly because Homey does not seem to understand every voice command equally well. So there is still room for improvement in this area.

Use of Athom Homey 2.0

The Athom Homey is a smart home hub like few. A hub with which you can actually operate (almost) everything and also use everything to really automate your home. But, if you really start automating your home, you will be installing a large number of devices, sensors and other equipment. At that time, the number of apps and Flows on the Homey will increase quickly and there is a chance that the device will become slightly slower. In our case, the working memory is already more than 80 percent full with the apps we use and very sometimes we notice that the Homey has a hard time loading things. The intensive user will therefore soon have to look at the more expensive Homey Pro, equipped with double the amount of RAM.

We have never used the Homey extensively before the 2.0 update, but we have seen here and there how the platform works and can be used. With the 2.0 update, one important element has been improved; the ease of use. It has now become a lot easier for the novice user to start with (simple) Flows and thus develop their own knowledge. A clear start guide is unfortunately still missing and so you are dependent on the forums (which are well filled) and Google. Still, it would be a valuable addition if there was some kind of manual for beginners (and advanced) to familiarize you with the possibilities. After all, if you are not familiar with it, you will miss a lot of the comfort and convenience that the Homey can offer. Simple Flows will still work, but if you want to work with tags and other variables, the learning curve is steep. And that last part can put off the novice user who wants to start automating their home. In the beginning it is therefore mainly ‘trial and error’; trying and thus learning. Especially if you are going to work with dozens of Flows and also live with several people in the house, the variables will play a major role and you will have to know and learn how Flows interact and how to create an optimal schedule.

In our situation, working with the Homey went well. Adding devices went – with an exception here and there – flawlessly, the creation of (relatively simple) Flows went well and Flows are executed perfectly. The speech component, with integration of Google Assistant, is still a hit and miss. There is still room for improvement there. Another point of attention is the support of third parties and how dependent you are on it. It is up to the developers of apps to keep their software up-to-date so that your equipment continues to work smoothly with the Homey. These can be manufacturers, but also Athom itself or individual developers. Updates do not always take place quickly and if one part of an app does not work for you, it may take a while before a solution is found. The community is very active, but sometimes things are delayed for a long time before a solution becomes available. However, this is a pain for the end user. However, it must be said that in our situation only the TV cannot be added for the time being.

Does everything really work like I do? No, there are little things that we cannot resolve either. For example, we cannot link our own Spotify playlist to the Sonos speaker, something that, according to Athom, will be made possible in a future update. A small irritation of course, but the more equipment you use, the more minor irritations can arise. After a few weeks of use, it also appeared that for some devices / apps the connection stops abruptly, for unknown reason. This was especially the case with Spotify Connect and the Harmony hub. Sometimes the connection reappeared and in other cases the hub had to be restarted. It is not clear why, but this is typically something that can happen when you depend on the software of different parties. When the connection is lost, Flows are obviously not executed (properly) and that can be annoying. That is the disadvantage when the platform is so open and so so many parties influence your user experience. Perhaps Athom should be more on top of that.

Athom Homey 2.0 – Conclusion

If we put all the pluses and minuses together, we are quite enthusiastic about the Athom Homey 2.0. This smart home hub manages to merge 90 percent of the smart home equipment in a good and user-friendly environment. The installation and linking of devices is simple and the novice user can also create simple Flows relatively quickly. The possibilities are almost endless, but if you want to get the most out of your smart home, the learning curve becomes a lot steeper and you are forced to browse through forums. A manual with examples to simplify and speed up the learning process opens the door more widely to more households, and more users often means better and faster support. For that support you depend on the community, Homey itself and manufacturers,

All in all, Athom has taken a big step with Athom Homey 2.0 towards the consumer who wants to automate their smart home without actually programming. Here and there there is still room for improvement, including the integration of voice control, the lack of a manual, making advanced functions even easier, and the limited RAM when you want to add a large number of apps / devices. The price of 299 euros is on the high side, but looking at the possibilities and compatibility it is one of the most complete products to get started with home automation. We do recommend that you only start working with the Homey when you have quite a few devices and sensors. Only then can you really make a difference with this hub.

Positives of Athom Homey 2.0

  • Simple installation
  • User-friendly app
  • Endless possibilities
  • Compatible with almost everything 
Negatives of Athom Homey 2.0

  • Not cheap
  • Voice control integration is disappointing
  • Not a guide for the beginner
  • Homey Pro must for the intensive user
  • Dependency on the community and third parties