A new update to the Philips Hue operating software within the popular iOS app has brought about a few changes to the way the lighting system functions with third-party accessories. Specifically, the app will no longer support third-party bulbs that function with the ZigBee wireless protocol, including the GE Link LED and Cree Connected LED bulbs (via CNET).
Introduced on both the first generation and HomeKit-enabled second generation of Hue bridges, the 1.11 software update was enacted by the company due to an overwhelming number of "interoperability issues" with some third-party products. Philips points to numerous customer complaints of confusion and frustration when setting up these bulbs, in turn tarnishing the Philips Hue brand, as the major deciding factor for ending their support.
We are seeing an increasing number of interoperability issues with these untested third party products, which are causing increasing confusion for our installed base. They are also hampering our ongoing development and damaging the consistency of experience for the Philips Hue ecosystem.
The current plan moving forward is the "Friends of Hue" program that the company also began around the time of the 1.11 update last week. With the new initiative, Philips will send third-party bulbs through rigorous testing and certification before giving it the official Philips Hue bridge-compatible stamp of approval.
The company also noted that those affected by the removal of these select third-party bulbs represent a "minimal fraction" of the total lights working with the Hue bridge out there today. Affected lights already linked to a bridge will continue to work, but "new untested" will not be able to be added to existing Hue networks. Philips also pointed out that the blocked bulbs already working with a Hue bridge won't be able to properly receive updates after the 1.11 software update, so they could run into bug issues with no possible fix in the future.
Update: Philips on Wednesday announced a change of plans from its original announcement, confirming that it no longer intends to shut down the function of a select handful of third-party bulbs due to the unforeseen amount of customers it would affect.
We recently upgraded the software for Philips Hue to ensure the best seamless connected lighting experience for our customers. This change was made in good faith. However, we under estimated the impact this would have on a small number of customers who use lights from other brands which could not be controlled by the Philips Hue software. In view of the sentiment expressed by our customers, we have decided to reverse the software upgrade so that lights from other brands continue to work as they did before with the Philips Hue system.
The company did confirm that the "Friends of Hue" certified partnership program will continue as originally planned.