Hi everyone! 👋
The fourth quarter of 2023 has just started, and I feel a bit frustrated that we didn't meet our promise to ship Thread in the new Homey Pro. There are also two other nagging problems I want to talk about.
We want to be transparent about this, so here's an update on Homey Pro's software status.
During the No Compromises keynote, we planned to enable Thread (a new wireless technology used for Matter) in Q3. But we didn't. So why didn't we deliver? Without wanting to point fingers, it does come down to three external parties.
First, we buy our Thread chip from Silicon Labs. They provide us with software we need to interface with the chip. However, one of their pieces contains a memory leak we found, identified and reported a month ago. They promised us a fix in Q4, so we're pushing them to rush their efforts.
To connect any Matter device, Apple's guidelines force anyone to use their iOS APIs. This is the QR-code scanner you see when connecting a Matter device. While this works quite nicely with Matter-over-Wi-Fi, or when you already have a Thread Border Router such as a HomePod or Apple TV, once we try to connect any device to Homey Pro's own Thread network, the iOS SDK just keeps crashing.
We are in contact with Apple and they say they're working on it. Unfortunately, they are not really transparent about their progress. As pairing does seem to work when pairing with a Thread Border router of Apple itself, like a HomePod, it's a weird issue, to say the least.
Android presents similar issues as iOS. Google states that it's possible to connect a Matter device to a non-Google Thread network. However, every time we do just that, it just doesn't work at all. Similar to Apple, we have raised a case here to solve this, but so far progress has been quite opaque and slow.
So now what?
It's frustrating, to say the least. We want to create a great product, but Big Tech's politics are (as usual) in our way. We're still patient while we're waiting on them to fix it, we also know they see Homey as a competitor, so it doesn't seem to be their highest priority.
We do have a few ideas how to circumvent this, but for now, let's just hope it can be done the 'official' way.
We know that a few percent of Homey Pro (2023) users experience an issue where they receive the error message TRANSMIT_COMPLETE_FAIL. This is usually when they have a large Z-Wave network, and/or have devices that report their state often.
We have put a lot of work into reproducing and investigating this problem. This is a problem in the firmware on the Z-Wave chip, which is made by Silicon Labs. Their teams are working on this issue as their top priority. It helps that some of their other customers experience the same.
We have already shipped a workaround in Homey Pro v10.0.6 which reduced the issue by roughly 60%. Trust me when I say that we're on this issue full-time because it's the number-one reported issue by far.
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
A very small percentage of customers might experience Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth reliability issues. The symptom is that Homey Pro doesn't reconnect to Wi-Fi, usually after some time, or has decreased Bluetooth reliability.
The Wi-Fi problems mostly seems to happen in combination with UniFi routers, but other brands might be affected as well. It does seem to be a problem with Raspberry Pi's in general (Homey Pro embeds the RPi Compute Module 4), and we're waiting on Raspberry Pi for a solution. Those guys are working on a fix, so we have to be patient here. You can track the progress on their GitHub.
Note that Homey Pro connected with an ethernet adapter should work flawlessly. This might also improve Bluetooth performance, because both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth share the same antenna.
These are the major problems our engineers are focussing on now. Luckily, they only affect some percent of our customers, but every customer affected is one too many!
I also hope that you can empathise with us that in this day and age, we cannot control everything ourselves. We buy these components, and we have to rely on these manufacturers to have their things in order. When something doesn't work as expected, the best that we can do is help them however we can, and be patient until they fix their issue.
Thank you so much for understanding, and being on this journey with us to make smart home better for everyone.
— Emile, Creative Director