The Reasons Behind My Switch to Home Assistant - Insights from Stacey on IoT

Cupertino, August 2, 2023

After two and a half years of primarily using HomeKit, which is now called Apple Home, I feel it's time for a change in my smart home setup. Before settling on the Apple platform, I experimented with Google Home, and before that, I was a Samsung SmartThings user. Looking ahead, I believe it's time to transition to Home Assistant for several reasons.

The larger smart home platforms offered by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung are stable and reliable, which is preferred by most users. These platforms have proven themselves and any updates or changes are usually incremental, with the recent exception of Matter support. However, I personally find these platforms a bit dull. I prefer a platform that continuously evolves and offers new features. Home Assistant has caught my interest because it not only integrates Matter support but also introduces numerous features and improvements every month. For instance, the July update included several intriguing items. There have been even more changes in Home Assistant last month, but this gives you an idea of the ongoing improvements. Besides the benefits of these enhancements, I find the process fascinating.

Speaking of Matter support, nearly every smart home ecosystem I would consider using has already implemented or added support for Matter. Home Assistant also supports this standard, though it is still a work-in-progress. However, compared to other implementations, Home Assistant offers more transparency as I can see more data and actions performed by my Matter devices. It may not be perfect yet, especially considering the slow rollout of Matter, but since I have a few Matter devices, switching to Home Assistant won't result in much loss of functionality. Furthermore, most of my older devices can integrate with Home Assistant, except for my Logitech Circle View doorbell. The only challenge would be finding a replacement doorbell that allows me to store video content locally instead of relying on the cloud.

In recent years, I have gradually shifted from big tech products and services towards open-source software. As I've learned more about programming, I've come to appreciate and understand the code behind these products. For example, I replaced macOS and Windows with Linux in 2020, and I switched from Gmail to Proton Mail around the same time. Even though I use a Chromebook for my other job, I utilize the Sidekick browser to minimize the amount of data accessed by Google. Home Assistant aligns with my preference for open source, local control, and reduced reliance on the cloud.

I understand that most people may not share my perspective on big tech companies versus open source. It's perfectly fine as people want smart home devices and services that simplify their lives, even if it means sacrificing some data privacy. However, I believe it's possible to have a great smart home experience without compromising all that data or relying on "big tech" brands to connect devices. Both Home Assistant and Hubitat exemplify this approach by focusing on local control and reducing reliance on the cloud. While I have considered Hubitat, I personally prefer the interface, feature set, and app experience offered by Home Assistant. Additionally, my wife has installed the Home Assistant app on her iPhone and surprisingly, she loves it more than the Apple Home app we've been using. Moreover, transitioning to Hubitat would require purchasing a new hub, whereas I already have Raspberry Pi devices at home, one of which is running Home Assistant. The transition can be made without any additional cost for a hub. Thus, I'm excited to embark on the journey with Home Assistant.

Once again, I acknowledge that most people may not arrive at the same conclusion as me when considering their smart home platform. That's the beauty of the current smart home landscape – there are numerous excellent options available to cater to diverse needs. There isn't a one-size-fits-all "best" smart home ecosystem for everyone. Considering my requirements and my migration towards transparent, open-source services, I believe Home Assistant is the right platform for me at this moment. I eagerly anticipate sharing my experiences as the journey begins!

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