1 year, 11 months and 17 days ago or 716 days ago, I announced Home Assistant Companion for iOS on this blog. Ever since then, at least once a week, sometimes far more often, I am asked a question that I haven’t been able to truly answer until today. It’s a question that has gotten on my nerves almost every time I’ve seen it. I could understand why people were wanting an official Android app to mirror the functionality of the iOS app. But I never thought of myself as the person to best deliver on that idea.
Recently, these requests have reached a ear shattering volume and I had enough. It had been almost 2 years and no official app had materialized. It was time for me to act. So I bought a Pixel 3 and re-immersed myself in Android, not having used it for more than a few minutes since my Nexus 5. It’s changed a lot, for the better in my mind, since that time. I knew I could do this. I did it once before. It will require learning a new language, Kotlin, but I learned Swift to build the iOS app and that worked out well.
So here I am, announcing to you, that the official Home Assistant Companion for Android will soon be under development.
I’m going to try to duplicate the timeline of the iOS app as much as possible, although with less time between releases to start. The 1.0 will feature three core features:
- A location engine to rival the iOS app. This means location updates while out and about as well as region monitoring.
- Push notifications that aim to be just as powerful as iOS. Actions and sounds will be added to start and eventually I hope to add embedded content like camera streams and maps. No more need for HTML5 notifications.
- A full screen view for the beautiful web UI that Paulus and co have built. That’s right, no native UI, at least for now.
Long term, I hope to provide a similar feature set on Android as on iOS. That means Android Wear support, sensors and widgets.
If you’re an iOS user reading this, don’t fret. Here’s the current timeline I’m working on:
- April 1, 2019: Announce the Android app
- No later than April 31st, 2019: Release iOS 2.0 to the App Store
- Early to mid summer, 2019: Release first beta of the Android app
- Mid to late summer, 2019: Release 1.0 of the Android app to the Play Store
- Late summer to mid fall, 2019: Adopt new features in iOS 13 into the iOS app, version 2.5.
I’ve already laid the groundwork in Home Assistant itself by implementing the utterly fantastic
mobile_app component which provides a very secure and featureful integration system for mobile apps.
Now, i’d like to take a moment to address the elephant in the room: What about the other Android apps that have cropped up to fill the void left without having an official app for so long? The answer is, nothing. Authors of third party apps can continue to build their app and provide innovative features that blend phone and Home Assistant. They will be able to leverage the foundation that was put in place for them: the mobile app component. These apps are part of our ecosystem and we don’t intend to push them out, but embrace them. The better apps they can offer, the more choice our users have and the better it is for the Home Assistant ecosystem.
You might be wondering why we are choosing to do this now, other than the previously mentioned constant questions. Recently, we’ve seen a worrying uptick in the number of apps making poor integration choices or outright horrifying security choices. Furthermore, Home Assistant will always remain free and your privacy is a key part of our mission. Because of that key ideal, we don’t like seeing ads in Home Assistant mobile apps as they have been previously shown to not care about your privacy and in some cases be downright dangerous. We wanted to provide a full featured solution that was open source and cared about your privacy.
So that’s it. The app that 74.15 % of you have been waiting for. Coming soon to a Play Store near you. You’ll be hearing and seeing progress on it very soon via this blog, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, and more.
Finally, I’m going to make a public plug for my Patreon which will hopefully soon enable me to spend 100% of my time on Home Assistant for the rest of 2019. That means full time on iOS, Android and more fun. Thanks in advance for your ongoing support.