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Hubitat -- the privacy-focused smart home hub -- launches its long-awaited app

The smart home hub that processes info locally just became more user friendly.


The Hubitat Elevation smart-home hub promises more privacy than the competition by keeping all of the data it needs to power your smart home stored locally. The rules needed for your door sensor to trigger your alarm or for your Ecobee smart thermostat to talk to your Philips Hue smart light bulbs are all stored on the device instead of the cloud.

Up until this point, Hubitat was missing one key element common to most smart-home systems -- an app. You had to set up your system in a web browser. You could access that browser from your phone, but Hubitat didn't have an interface designed for it. Hubitat actually promised an app at CES this year as it launched its newest hub, and the company finally debuted the app for iOS and Android on Thursday.

The app comes with push notifications and a customizable dashboard. You'll be able to access any of your gadgets remotely -- Hubitat works with a wide variety of third-party gadgets from brands like Lutron and Yale. It also works with Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. You can use the app to set up rules involving presence detection or geofencing -- so your smart home acts differently depending on if you're home or away.

Hubitat will maintain its dedication to privacy by limiting geofencing to a specific boundary -- so it won't track your GPS at all times, it simply knows when your phone crosses a designated line. If you're using the app at home, your phone can talk directly to the Hubitat app to keep your commands local.

You'll be able to use the app to access your devices from anywhere, and controlling your home remotely will involve the cloud -- and might be part of the reason Hubitat took so long to launch an app in the first place. Nevertheless, the processing and rules storage should still happen on the hub itself, with the cloud used mostly as a bridge.

Before the app, the Hubitat system looked mostly aimed at avid smart-home DIYers as opposed to those with a casual interest in connected tech. In addition to the added privacy of local processing, the main benefit was the enhanced customization. You could set up a wide variety of rules using many different sensors and devices. A simplified app might help Hubitat find a broader appeal.

You can buy the company's new Hubitat Elevation hub for $90 on the company's site