0.115: B-Day release! Media browser, tags, automations & WTH

Happy Birthday Home Assistant!

There's a party goin' on right here 🕺
A dedication to last throughout the years 🥳
So bring your good times, and your laughter too 😂
We gonna celebrate our party with you 🎁

It's a celebration! 🎉

~ Kool & The Gang - Celebration

7! Siete! Soch! Syv! Sieben! Seitsemän! Cедем! Sept! Sju! επτά! Zeven! Sette! Seven! Years old today! And ooooh, are we going to party and celebrate with you!

You might have noticed, this release is a bit late, two weeks late. Our regular release cycle is 3 weeks, this time however, we took 5 weeks. Sure, the reason was, of course, related to our birthday today, but what is a better gift than a jam-packed release that has something for everybody?

Thankfully, a lot of you have been sharing their gift wishlist items during the month of “What the heck?!” (WTH). I love you all! What a good and amazing set of great ideas, annoyances and other suggestions have been made in that forum this month!

And it is not just that, a lot of people jumped in fixing these things as well! What a community! The month of WTH is almost over now, after that we will close the category on the forum, until the next WTH month.

Besides that, two totally new and big features are added this release, which we really wanted to polish before releasing it.

I usually write some things about the release in my personal introduction note right here, but honestly, I have no idea where to start… it is just too darn much! I love the new automation features, but there are so many of those in this release as well. 😅 I’m not going to try writing this. 😂

So, let me close with a thank you to our founding father:

Paulus, thank you so much for what you have imagined, started and created 7 years ago. Your idea has changed the lives of many, including my own. Thank you.

Of course, it is not just Paulus, but everybody else who contributes to the project in any way. Code, text, support, chat, YouTube video, live streams, blogs, articles, community guides, documentation, tweets, issues, bug reports, feature requests, ideas, questions or even if you just use it. Thank you for contributing! ❤️

Happy birthday and enjoy the release!

../Frenck

Table of contents

Alright, this release is massive, so here is a table of contents for helping navigating you around this release.

Media Browser

This release includes an exciting set of features around media. If the media player supports it, you can now browse the player’s media library and quickly change what you’re listening to. No need for two apps anymore if you want to change the lights and pick some music.

Any media player can enable this new feature. This release adds media browser support to Arcam FMJ, Kodi, Philips JS, Plex, Roku, Sonos and Spotify!

Thanks to @jjlawren for the initial implementation and to @cgtobi, @ctalkington, [@martinhjelmare], @elupus for the work on the various integrations and backend refining.

But a media browser isn’t just backend, it also needs to look good. Thankfully, we had @zsarnett on the case, with the help of @bramkragten. They came up with a beautiful design so you can browse your media in style.

When @hunterjm saw the new media browser, he got an idea. What if the user can use the media browser to browse media offered by any integration and play it on any of their media players? And so the media source integration was born.

The first media source that has been added is to allow users to play local media. Local media can be motion detection events from your IP camera or a bunch of music files to be used with Home Assistant Tags.

Home Assistant, by default, will look at the /media path. If you’re using Home Assistant OS (the default install), you can use the Samba add-on to upload media. If you use Docker, you need to mount a volume at /media and if you use a Python virtual environment, the default is <config>/media.

You can also specify your own media paths with a new configuration option in configuration.yaml:

homeassistant:
  media_dirs:
    motion: /media/motion_events
    music: /media/music

Media Source is not limited to local media. Any integration can offer its media. @cgtobi has upgraded the Netatmo integration, which will now offer its recorded motion events to play.

Media player integrations that want to play media sources will need to be updated. In this release, we’ve updated the Chromecast integration. If you click its media browser button, you will be presented with the available local sources.

Sometimes you just want to play your media without having to turn on the TV. To cover that case, @zsarnett added a new media browser to the Home Assistant interface, which can be used to play your media. That way, you can quickly see what that motion event that you just received was about.

Home Assistant Tags

Photo of the Home Assistant tag reader made by Adonno The Home Assistant tag reader, made by Adonno with the help of MagnusO.

Home Assistant now has native support for tags! With Home Assistant Tags, we’re making scannable tags (NFC/RFID) a first-class citizen in Home Assistant. Easy to read, write and automate!

We have a beautiful UI for it in the frontend, our mobile companion apps have been updated to work seamlessly with tags and there is now even an open-source scanner available, as shown in the image above.

For all details, read the dedicated blog post about Home Assistant tags!

Customize the sidebar

One of the most requested functions of What the heck was customizing the sidebar: You do want history for your entities in the more info dialog, but you don’t use that history panel. Or you do want calendars for automating, or in the new Lovelace cards, but don’t want a calendar panel with all your calendars.

Now you can hide panels from the sidebar and rearrange them, by just drag and drop them.

Screen recording of customizing the sidebar Screen recording of customizing the sidebar.

You can enter edit mode by pressing and holding the sidebar’s header or from your profile page. You can then drag the items in the order you want them or remove them by clicking the x next to it.

The removed items will be visible at the bottom of the list, by clicking the + button, you can add them back to the sidebar.

These settings are stored on your device in the local storage of your browser, this means that this setting is device-based and will be cleared when you logout.

Person image upload

You can now upload images for a person in the frontend!

Select or drop an image in the input field and then crop it to a square. The image is stored on your Home Assistant instance.

We will use the image in the frontend for your persons and the sidebar for the user linked to this person.

This feature is powered by the new image integration and opens up for future possibilities. For example, uploading images, for use in your Lovelace picture cards, would be nice!

Updated more info dialog

The more info dialog is updated. In case an entity has controls, for example a light, the more info dialog will now have 2 tabs. One for controls and one for history.

On the history tab, you can find the history graph you are used to and now also a list of logbook entries of the specific entity.

Screenshot of the update more info dialogs The updated more info dialogs, showing the two tabs: details & history.

For entities without controls (like a sensor), no tabs will be shown like before.

More information in the logbook panel

The logbook will now show what automation or script caused the change and what action was used to make the change happen.

This solves yet another WTH request. It will be really helpful to find those cases that are: WTH turned on this light?

Screenshot of the logbook showing the sources of the events. The logbook shows which automation changed the state of my stream light.

Automation & Scripts updates

The month of “What the heck?!” brought in a lot of topics that evolve around automations and scripts, of which quite a few have been addressed this release. Furthermore, we already had quite a bunch of improvements pending. If you like doing automation in YAML, you’ll probably just love this release.

Before starting on the list of newly added features, let’s talk about the Home Assistant frontend. You can now duplicate an automation and, the long present but always disabled, duplicate condition, trigger, and action function are now also finally working!

New action: Wait for trigger

This is a special new action than can be used in an automation action or script sequence that allows you to pause the execution until a certain trigger is been fired. It can be helpful for automations or scripts that consist of multiple stages.

In this example, a notification is sent when one passes through two gates to enter the garden, but only when both gates are passed within 10 seconds.

automation:
  - trigger:
      - platform: state
        entity_id: binary_sensor.gate1
        to: "on"
    action:
      - wait_for_trigger:
          - platform: state
            entity_id: binary_sensor.gate2
            to: "on"
        timeout: 10
        continue_on_timeout: false
      - service: notify.notify
        data:
          message: Someone just entered the yard!

This example is simple and probably fairly useless for most of us. However, let’s say you left your garage door open and you leave the “Home” zone. Home Assistant could send you an actionable notification, saying: “Hey, you left the garage door open, shall I close if for you?” with 2 choices: Yes/No.

Where you previously would have needed 3 automations for this. The first for sending a notification and two others for handling the “Yes” or “No” answer. Using the wait_for_trigger this could be done in a single automation.

Right after sending the notification, the wait_for_trigger could halt the script from continuing, until it receives the “Yes” or “No” answer and continue after that and run the actions you’d like based on the answer received.

This new feature is not just for our YAML uses; it also is added to our automation editor in the UI.

Screenshot of the new wait_for_trigger in the automation editor The automation editor can also use the new Wait for trigger action.

Triggers & Conditions on entity attributes

Ever tried to create an automation trigger or condition on an entity attribute, like the temperature of a climate or weather entity?

You used to need to use a template for that. Either by extracting the attribute from an entity using a template sensor or by writing a template condition. A reason for a lot of you to put it up as a “What the heck?!” entry. And you know what? You guys are right, this was difficult.

Screenshot of using attributes in the automation editor The automation editor now supports attributes on triggers and conditions.

So, Home Assistant now supports the use of attributes in triggers & conditions. Both the state and numeric state, triggers & conditions now have an attribute option that can be set with the attribute to use. The UI got a nice field for it, as shown in the above screenshots, but of course, it is also available when you are using YAML for your automations.

Some example triggers and conditions using attributes in YAML:

trigger:
  - platform: state
    entity_id: climate.living_room
    attribute: hvac_action
    to: "heating"
  - platform: numeric_state
    entity_id: weather.outside
    attribute: temperature
    above: 20.5
condition:
  - condition: state
    entity_id: climate.living_room
    attribute: havc_mode
    state: "heat"
  - condition: numeric_state
    entity_id: weather.outside
    attribute: humidity
    below: 80

Use input_datetime helpers in automation triggers

Using dates and times in your automation can be hard. If often needs quite a bit of Jinja templating and is actually really hard to do. @pnbruckner noticed, and he added the possibility to use your input_datetime helper entities directly in time trigger!

Assume you have an input_datetime.bedroom_alarm_clock_time helper entity, that is in your Lovelace UI, which you can set a time in. Great! You can now just use it in your automations to trigger on:

trigger:
  - platform: time
    at: input_datetime.bedroom_alarm_clock_time

Yes, he made it that elegant. It also works for multiple, or mixed variable and statically set times.

trigger:
  - platform: time
    at:
      - "10:00"
      - input_datetime.bedroom_alarm_clock_time
      - input_datetime.some_other_time_entity

More about the time trigger, can be found in our documentation.

Use input_* helpers in conditions

@pnbruckner set a standard in the above, and we used that to start working on making this something that would work on more places. As of this release, all input_* entities can be used in conditions.

The time condition can accept input_datetime helper entities, similar to the trigger shown above.

conditions:
  - condition: time
    after: input_datetime.house_silent_hours_start
    before: input_datetime.house_silent_hours_end

The numeric_state condition now accepts input_number helper entities for the above and below options.

conditions:
  - condition: numeric_state
    entity_id: climate.living_room_thermostat
    attribute: temperature
    above: input_number.temperature_threshold_low
    below: input_number.temperature_threshold_high

And finally, the state condition accepts any input_* helper entity in its state option.

conditions:
  - condition: state
    entity_id: sensor.happy_birthday
    state: input_text.too_you
  - condition: state
    entity_id: sensor.happy_birtday_song
    state: input_select.notify_on_song
  - condition: state
    entity_id: light.living_room
    state: input_boolean.expected_state

We are confident this will greatly improve the power and ease of the helper entities. The conditions documentation has been updated with more examples.

Here is an idea: You can now easily create a set of helper entities representing your automation settings and adding those to a separate Lovelace dashboard. You now have your own automation configuration panel, helpful for tweaking things like times or adjust temperature thresholds, without touching your automations.

Shorthand notation for template conditions

A neat little trick added this release: Allow for shorter, cleaner YAML code, if you use templates quite a bit: A shorthand notation for condition templates have been added.

All places that accept conditions, now accept templates directly. Some examples:

automations:
  - alias: "My automation"
    ...
    condition: "{{ (state_attr('device_tracker.iphone', 'battery_level') | int) > 50 }}"
    ...
- choose:
    - conditions: "{{ is_state('sensor.mode', 'on') and (state_attr('climate.room', 'temperature') | int) < 10 }}"
      sequence:
        - ...

Or in a list of conditions:

condition:
  condition: or
  conditions:
    - "{{ is_state('device_tracker.iphone', 'away') }}"
    - condition: numeric_state
      entity_id: "sensor.temperature"
      below: 20

More examples can be found in the conditions documentation.

Use templates directly in data and service fields

More WTH input! Those data_template, and service_template fields in service calls are so annoying! Why not accept templates in the normal data and service field?

Good question! And even better suggestion. As of now, you can!

action:
  - service: "notify.{{ state('input_select.active_notify_platform)' }}"
    data:
      title: This is notification!
      message: "The time is {{ now() }}"

Don’t worry, the old format still works as before, so this is not a breaking change. However, you can start removing those data_template’s by renaming to (or merging them with) data.

The keys inside a data block, can be templates now too!

service: kef_custom.set_mode
  data:
    "{{ attribute }}": "{{ now() }}"

Variables

Another WTH item, “Why can’t we have variables?!”. This WTH is not fully solved, but a good start is made this release by adding support for variables to automation and scripts.

Here is an example automation:

automation:
  trigger:
    platform: sun
    event: sunset
    offset: -00:30
  variables:
    notification_service: notify.paulus_iphone
  action:
    - service: "{{ notification_service }}"
      data:
        message: Beautiful sunset!

While the above example, it doesn’t add that much value, it does shows how it works. Variables can be templates too! For example:

variables:
  person: frenck
  notification_service: "notify.{{ person }}_iphone"

Both scripts and automation actions support this syntax now. Additionally, we added a new action! The variables action. This unlocks the potential to change variables during the runtime of a script.

variables:
  notification_service: notify.paulus_iphone
action:
  - variables:
      notification_service: notify.frenck_iphone
  - service: "{{ notification_service }}"
    data:
      message: This message actually went to Frenck, not Paulus.

For a more extensive example, check out the example written in the blog article about Home Assistant Tags.

Other scripts and automation changes

But wait! There is more! 😂

There was no way of knowing if a wait template was timed out or if it continued normally. Now, we do know this. After each wait template, a new variable is available: wait. It provides wait.completed (indicates if the template evaluated to true before the timeout expired) and wait.remaning (remaining time out).

sequence:
  - wait_template: "{{ is_state('binary_sensor.abc', 'on') }}"
    timeout: 10
    continue_on_timeout: true
  - choose:
      - conditions:
          - condition: template
            value_template: "{{ not wait.completed }}"
        sequence:
          # Handle timeout case

The new script and automation run modes are amazing! But in some cases, they might be polluting your logs. For example, you have a automation in single mode, but it does get triggered multiples times sometimes and you are not interested in the log. You can now control that with the max_exceeded option.

The example below silences the automation and it will not log when it gets triggered while it was already running:

automation:
  - trigger: ...
    max_exceeded: silent
    action: ...

Calendar card

Like promised, when we introduced the calendar panel, we now also added a Lovelace calendar card!

This allows you to create as many calendars as you want with the entities you want.

If you want multiple calendar panels, create a Lovelace dashboard with a panelmode view with a calendar card!

Screenshot of the new calendar card Screenshot of the new calendar card.

Template developer tools

The template developer tools are very useful for checking if the template you made works and does what you want it to do. But people had some annoyances with the tool; the editor is always filled with sample data, that can give a lot of response. It would be more useful to have your previously used template there. Yes, you guessed it, another WTH!

The template would also not automatically re-render after the state of an entity is changed, causing you needing to change the template in order to re-render it.

We addressed both these issues. We save your last-used template and will show that instead of the example when you visit the template developer tools.

Screenrecording the live state changes in the template development tools. Templates you write in the developer tools, are now updating live!

We will also listen for changes of the entities you used in your template and automatically re-render your template. As a bonus, we will show which entities Home Assistant detected you are using in your template.

Reload everything YAML

WTH, do we still need to restart Home Assistant for applying YAML configuration? That was one of the WTH raised. It is being worked on!

This release, @bdraco found a way to reload some of the internal integrations and boosted this capability to a lot of integrations. For those, you can just reload the YAML in the configuration server control page (you will need advanced mode).

As of this release, besides the integrations that already could be reloaded, the following integration can now reload their YAML configuration without a restart of Home Assistant:

You can also reload an integration that is setup with the UI! This can be useful when it lost its connection or is in an otherwise failed state. You can find the reload button in the overflow menu on the integration card.

Screenshot of reloading an UI configured integration. UI configured integration can now be reloaded as well!

User password change

Another What the heck, that sounded so obvious: Being able to change a user’s password as the owner of the system. Right?!

You can now change every user’s password from the UI when you are the owner of the system!

Screenshot of change a password of a user account. As a owner, you can now change a password of a user.

Improved ways of exposing entities via Home Assistant Cloud

This release brings an update to the way you can expose entities to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa via Home Assistant Cloud.

With the new panel, you can now set on a domain level if entities should be exposed/not exposed by default. You can still override this on a per-entity level for fine-grained control.

The default expose rules have also been updated to expose entities that work best with voice assistants.

Screenshot of expose options on an entity.

Add card by entities

Are you a bit overwhelmed by all the different types of cards Lovelace has? You can now just select the entities you want to use for a card, and have Lovelace suggest a card for you.

Screenshot of add card by entity selection view in Lovelace UI. Select one or more entities to populate the card.

Screenshot of add card by entity confirmation view in Lovelace UI. A confirmation dialog is shown before adding the suggested card.

In the add card dialog, we added a second tab with a list of all your entities. Select the entities you want to use and click continue. We will suggest a card for you and you can then fine-tune the configuration.

Order entities in Lovelace UI editor

You can now sort the entities in Lovelace UI editors by just dragging them. No more clicking the up and down buttons over and over again, simply drag the item up or down.

Screenrecording of dragging and dropping entities to re-order Drag and and drop the entities in the order you want.

Other noteworthy changes

  • The OpenZWave beta integration is coming along nicely. First signs of some control panels in the UI are visible this release. You can see the status and information of your network and nodes. There are also buttons to put your Z-Wave network in inclusion and exclusion mode and to refresh a node. Thanks @cgarwood!

  • The code editor in the UI is now theme-able, so make them look nice!

  • The stream component now supports audio! Amazing job @uvjustin!

  • Slack notification now supports change username/icon on the fly, which was a great WTH suggestion! Thanks for adding that @bachya.

  • The Met.no now supports hourly forecasts, very nice @bruxy70!

  • The MDI icons are updated to version 5.5.55, this adds another 100 icons you can use!

  • The Google Assistant integration got some updates:

    • @elupus added support for asking for the previous or next input source.
    • Basic support for controlling light effect has been added by @mjg59.
    • @blueshiftlabs added capabilities to control media player muting and relative-volume controls.
  • The Netatmo integration was re-engineered, which reduced the number of API calls and added webhook events to improve overall responsiveness. It now supports controlling the outdoor camera floodlight and got services to set the occupants’ home/away status and the outdoor camera mode.

  • We no longer automatically alphabetically sort the keys in YAML files written by the UI, as a result from a WTH request. Much better!

New Integrations

A lot new integrations added this release:

New Platforms

The following integration got support for a new platform:

Integrations now available to set up from the UI

The following integrations are now available via the Home Assistant UI:

If you need help…

…don’t hesitate to use our very active forums or join us for a little chat.

Experiencing issues introduced by this release? Please report them in our issue tracker. Make sure to fill in all fields of the issue template.

Read on →

The Supervisor joins the party

The Supervisor is responsible for managing your system so that you can manage your home. It’s the beating heart of the Home Assistant Operating System and it ensures that your system stays secure and up to date. When things do go wrong, the Supervisor is there to help you recover the system.

Earlier this year, we limited the scope of what systems we support with the Supervisor. This has given us the opportunity to invest more time and resources into stability, usability improvements and new features.

Crash Reporting

The Supervisor can now share anonymized diagnostics and crash information with the Home Assistant developers that work on the Supervisor. This option is, of course, opt-in and disabled by default. With this enabled, you submit issues without needing to open an issue!

diagnostics graphic

Since we introduced this feature, over 25,000 events have been sent, generating around 120 unique issues. We have already fixed over 80 issues! With each release, fixes have been made as a result of these reports, making the Supervisor even more stable; This really shows how powerful it is.

Big thanks to Sentry, for powering and sponsoring this great feature.

"Accurate information is a key part of motivation." - Mary Ann Allison

Improve add-on availability with the new watchdog feature

Add-ons for Home Assistant allow you to run third-party applications easily. These applications will benefit from the same management features also used to manage your Home Assistant installation.

Add-on developers will be able to activate additional functionality for their add-on with the new “watchdog” add-on option. This enables application-level monitoring and allows the Supervisor to check if the add-on is behaving correctly using the ways specified by the developer.

Not all add-ons have this feature and an add-on can still get themselves into problems that they can’t recover from, causing the application not to work as expected and crash. For this purpose, we have introduced a new watchdog toggle for advanced users. The functionality is similar to Docker’s health checks but operates outside of the container, making it a more robust option.

watchdog graphic

When the watchdog is enabled for an add-on, the Supervisor will automatically restart the add-on if it stops, regardless of the reason (crash/manual stop). The watchdog does not know if you’re testing an add-on or playing around with different options, and so it might restart when you don’t need it. You should only enable the watchdog after you are finished setting the add-on up and want to make sure it’s running 24/7.

"Never stop never stopping." - Conner4Real

Network Manager

The most requested feature is here! You can now manage the network settings from the Supervisor interface. Previously you would have to fiddle with “nmcli” or go through the tedious act of importing configuration files from USB-sticks just to set a static IP address for your Home Assistant installation. With the introduction of the Supervisor’s Network Manager this can now be handled from the Supervisor panel in your Home Assistant UI. You will find this under the system tab.

dialog graphic

This is just the start to make advanced host management more accessible and it only touches a minimal part of what we will be able to do with it. Support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will follow later as part of our usability improvements.

"OMG. Finally." - @cogneato

Observer Plugin

The Supervisor provides several other services using “plugins”. Plugins are microservices that add features to help run Home Assistant + add-ons and manage your system. The latest plugin added is the Observer plugin. The observer keeps an eye on the Supervisor. It provides a diagnostics portal on port 4357(HELP). In case you ever lose access to the Supervisor, you can go to the Observer Portal to get the Supervisor status and logs and diagnose what’s wrong (and share it with us). The benefit of having this as a web portal is that you no longer need to attach a monitor and keyboard to your device or know the Linux commands to get the information out.

This is the first version and will be extended with more information and functionality in the future.

observer graphic

"Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have." - Franz Kafka

Improved Audio

Early this year, we built a new Audio layer with a central sound server based on PulseAudio. With this system in place, all add-ons and Home Assistant can simultaneously use audio devices and paired Bluetooth-speakers work flawlessly.

audio graphic

We will be working on exposing more of these features via the UI in the future, such as controlling the audio volume. The command-line interface supports most of the functionality already and is accessible via the SSH & Web Terminal add-on and entering ha audio --help.

Screenshot of Spotify connected to Home Assistant as audio output. The Spotify Connect add-on from Community Add-Ons allows playing Spotify via Home Assistant

Improved mDNS

Hostnames on your network often end with .local, for example, http://homeassistant.local:8123. This is a feature called mDNS. With Home Assistant OS and Supervised systems, this hasn’t always been functioning as well as it should have. This is a side effect caused by using the Docker layers to power the systems.

Last year we introduced a new DNS backend based on CoreDNS. This year, we’ve extended our DNS plugin with mDNS support and are forwarding all multicast traffic from mDNS onto the Supervisor’s internal network.

This means we now have support for .local domains everywhere and it is transparent throughout the whole system, including Home Assistant and all add-ons.

"It’s not DNS. There’s no way it’s DNS. It was DNS. - anonymous

That’s it!

There have been a lot of updates to the Supervisor. In the end, we hope that you don’t notice any of them. Because if the Supervisor does it’s job, you’re just automating your home without worrying about maintenance of your system.


Home Assistant Tags

Photo of a Tag Reader

RFID tags have been on my radar for home automation since @hoveeman published this video two years ago of him using RFID cards to play music in his house.

It has been my dream ever since to get this easily accessible to every Home Assistant user. It already got a lot more accessible when @maddox released Magic Cards. But this was still a separate application that you had to run besides Home Assistant, and it required a separate RFID reader.

Can we do better? Yes, we can. Today we are introducing Home Assistant Tags. A collaboration between our iOS, Android, frontend, core and hardware groups. With Home Assistant Tags, we’re making scannable tags (NFC/RFID) a first-class citizen in Home Assistant. Easy to read, write and automate!

The Apps

The official Home Assistant apps have been updated with NFC support. This dramatically lowers the bar for starting to automate your house with NFC tags. All you need now is tags!

From the apps you can now write a special Home Assistant URL to tags. Once you hover over one of these tags with your phone, they will trigger the Home Assistant app and send the identifier to your Home Assistant instance for processing. Tags are not bound to the phone that wrote them, any phone can scan them.

Thanks to @David-Development for the NFC support in the Android app and thanks to @zacwest for the NFC support in the iOS app.

Only iPhone XS, XR and iPhone 11 or later support background NFC tag reading.

Standalone Tag Reader

Having mobile tag readers is great, but there is more! The original RFID jukebox that peaked my interest worked with a dedicated RFID reader. This RFID reader was connected to a Raspberry Pi that was running a script to read the tags and send them to Home Assistant.

Photo of the old system Photo of the old system.

These solutions work great but were bulky and required hardware skills and technical skills to set up. The hardware cost for building a single reader could be around $30 (RFID reader + Raspberry Pi 0), but that’s just for 1 room. What if you want more rooms? That adds up quickly.

@adonno, with the help of @MagnusO, has been working on a smaller tag reader based on ESPHome. It’s powered by an ESP8266 chip and a PN532 NFC module. The case is 3D printed.

Because it’s powered by ESPHome, setting up is a breeze. Once powered on, it will create an access point that allows you to add your WiFi configuration. After that Home Assistant will pick it up and you can start scanning tags.

Photo of a tag reader with orange accents

The nice thing about standalone tag readers is that they are dedicated to a room. This means automations know in which room to act when a music card is scanned and can pick the right media player. This makes it easy to have cards that can work in every room.

The tag reader is open-source and available on GitHub. You can make one yourself or buy one of the pre-built ones or DIY kits that Adonno is selling.

Managing Tags in Home Assistant 0.115

Home Assistant 0.115 will contain a brand new tag manager, thanks to @bramkragten and @dmulcahey. On this screen you can create new tags, see the tags that have been scanned and can easily create automations for each tag. The new UI tightly integrates with the mobile apps, allowing you to write existing IDs to new tags with the tap of a button.

Tag user interface in Home Assistant

Building the RFID jukebox

All previous things put the pieces in place for us to be able to build our own jukebox. We can do this with just a few lines of YAML using some of the cool new features coming in Home Assistant 0.115:

# Note, this is using new automation features introduced in Home Assistant 0.115
automation:
- id: handle_tag_scan
  alias: "Handle Tag Scan"
  mode: single
  # Hide warnings when triggered while in delay.
  max_exceeded: silent
  variables:
    # Map scanner device ID to media player entity ID
    media_players:
      0e19cd3cf2b311ea88f469a7512c307d: media_player.spotify_balloob
    # Map tag ID to content
    tags:
      A7-6B-90-5F:
        media_content_id: spotify:album:0h2knr6qpiAq0tV5ri5JMF
        media_content_type: album
      04-B1-C6-62-2F-64-80:
        media_content_id: spotify:playlist:0OtWh3u6fZrBJTQtVBQWge
        media_content_type: playlist
  trigger:
    platform: event
    event_type: tag_scanned
  condition:
    # Test that we support this device and tag
    - "{{ trigger.event.data.tag_id in tags }}"
    - "{{ trigger.event.data.device_id in media_players }}"
  action:
    - variables:
        media_player_entity_id: "{{ media_players[trigger.event.data.device_id] }}"
        media_content_id: "{{ tags[trigger.event.data.tag_id].media_content_id }}"
        media_content_type: "{{ tags[trigger.event.data.tag_id].media_content_type }}"
    - service: media_player.play_media
      target:
        entity_id: "{{ media_player_entity_id }}"
      data:
        media_content_id: "{{ media_content_id }}"
        media_content_type: "{{ media_content_type }}"
    - delay: 2 # timeout before we allow processing next scan

Photo of printed NFC cards Printed NFC cards. Learn how to make them

Time to get scanning!

With these new features, you will be able to do a lot of cool things. Get yourself some NFC tags or NFC cards to get going. Here is some inspiration:

  • NFC cards to play music
  • NFC stickers on books that play grandparents reading the book
  • NFC tags to activate scenes in the room
  • NFC cards to open recipes on screens in the kitchen
  • NFC tags to allow access to your home

Happy 7th birthday Home Assistant! 🎉

Celebration graphic

This week Home Assistant turns seven years old, wild! It all started with me automating my Hue lights when the sun was setting and someone was home, and now we’re here. 😎

It’s been a crazy busy year. We’ve seen our contributions increase since the pandemic started, and it hasn’t lowered. To give some numbers, in the last 4 weeks, we have merged more than 1400 contributions! The core of Home Assistant has seen contributions from over 2100 different people at this point. And that doesn’t include the work that is being done on our frontend, iOS app, Android app or any of the documentation websites.

All these people are working to make Home Assistant the best home automation software out there. For anyone to enjoy for free. With our focus on local control and privacy, we give people worldwide the ability to live their life. No fear that your smart home stops working when a manufacturer decides to pull the plug. No fear that your life is shared with third parties to improve the experience of a light bulb. Your home, your data, your life.

In the last year, we’ve seen Home Assistant get more user friendly, more powerful and receive significant performance improvements. We’re continuing to be able to give everyone a great experience, regardless of expertise level.

We’re going to celebrate it this year with not just one day, but with a whole week of daily announcements and various releases. 🎁 So check back each day this week to catch the latest!

Also, keep an eye out for the next episode of the Home Assistant Podcast this Thursday. I’ll be joining Phil and Rohan to discuss literally everything. It will be a great episode.

Happy birthday!

Paulus


Home Assistant Companion Android App Release 2.4.0

Hey there, I hope everyone has been enjoying the last release of the Android app. We have another update coming up where we felt it’s time to give everyone a heads up before release. There are several new changes done that you will immediately notice after installing the update to 2.4.0, so we wanted to cover what’s new. You can expect this release to be available in the Google Play Store tomorrow.

Current and Future Breaking Changes

Sometimes when we move really fast, we may move a bit too fast. While we had fun adding all the new sensors, we didn’t stop to think about the new user experience and how we are making a burden on them by having non-static attributes for some of the sensors. In reality, these attributes are a state and we need to treat them as such. If we don’t, there will be a need to use templates that are not user-friendly. We wanted to fix this issue and be courteous to our current users, so we have made a few changes. Some of which take place in this release and some in the following release after 2.4.0.

The first major change in this release is that the app will no longer send needless updates to your Home Assistant instance when there is nothing new to report state-wise. This helps cut down on the amount of data that gets sent out. Some attributes attached to some sensors update outside of the state, to combat this change, we have split those attributes to become their own sensor. For example, the audio sensor had an attribute to tell if headphones were currently plugged into the device. This, by itself, is a state change and thus now a binary sensor.

We have opted to keep the existing attributes where they are for this release, this way they do not break existing templates. However, they may trigger slower until you move to the new sensor. All of the new sensors are also disabled by default (with the exception of battery), so you may want to enable the ones you care for. The following sensors have had their attributes split up:

  • Audio Sensor - All attributes. The sensor name for new users is changed to Ringer Mode to better align with what the state represents.
  • Battery State Sensor - All attributes.
  • Bluetooth Connection - Only is_bt_on now has its own binary sensor. The other attributes update with the state.
  • Storage Sensor - External storage attributes. The new sensor will behave the same as the current storage sensor, which is now labeled as Internal Storage.
  • WiFi Connection - All attributes with the exception of is_hidden.

These attributes mentioned above will be removed in the next release. Please make your switch to the new sensors now to avoid the breaking change then.

Attributes have also had a slight breaking change as we are now sending the correct data type for the attribute. Previously they were all sent as a string, which meant binary values needed to be wrapped in quotes.

The Geocoded location sensor also had its attribute of Location split into the attributes they reflect as latitude and longitude.

Foreground Service Worker

We have seen issues where some of the sensors do not update reliably; There were times when the sensor worker could not run. We have gone ahead and converted this to become a foreground service, which means from time to time, you will see a low priority notification when the sensors are updating. This low priority notification does not make a sound and just appears briefly in the status bar. We felt this to be a good compromise instead of having to use a persistent notification.

If you are on Android Oreo or later you can minimize or turn off the channel completely. Please keep in mind that doing that, may affect the update reliability. Google’s recommendation was to make it low priority and if you have seen recent updates to the Google Phone and Calendar apps you have already seen this described behavior.

Screenshot of Foreground Service Screenshot of the Foreground Service.

New Sensors

We have new sensors added this time around. All of the below sensors are disabled by default:

  • Doze mode - Android 6.0+ only, a binary sensor to represent the state of doze mode.

Screenshot of Doze Mode Screenshot of Doze Mode.

  • Interactive - A binary sensor that represents whether or not the device is being interacted with.
  • Power Save mode - A binary sensor that turns on when the device reports it’s in power-saving mode. Most manufacturers allow this to be user-configurable on the device.
  • Public IP - A sensor that shows the public IP address of the device.

Other Changes

We have also spent time making improvements in other areas of the application:

  • Several more location improvements have been made.
  • Sensors are hidden on devices that do not have them.
  • General improvements to the app architecture to help developers understand the flow.
  • More localization improvements.
  • General improvements to the settings screen.

Special thanks to JBassett, chriss158, anyuta1166 and skynetua for all of your contributions. So keep them bug reports and feature requests coming, we’ll chat again next time!


Home Assistant Companion Android App: New Features

Hey there, it’s been so long since we last gave an update on our mobile apps we thought it would be time to give you more updates! This time around we will focus on whats new in the Android app. There have been a few releases so were going to cover everything new up until version 2.3.0 which was just released to the Google Play Store.

Manage Sensors

Starting from version 2.2.0 there is a new Manage Sensors screen that you can find under App Configuration. Users can now disable sensors they don’t want while continuing to receive updates from the sensors they do care about. This includes turning off the Geocoded sensor while keeping location tracking on. Speaking of which the 2 location toggles that used to be found in App Configuration are now located in this new screen. You can expect to see the live data that was recently sent over to your Home Assistant instance as well as the attributes and other sensor details.

Screenshot of Manage Sensors Screenshot of the Manage Sensors.

Screenshot of Sensor Management Screenshot of Sensor Management.

New Sensors

We have had quite a bit of sensors get added since we last spoke so here’s whats new. Some of these sensors will update their state in your Home Assistant instance upon certain state changes. All of the sensors listed below will also update during the normal 15 minute update interval. To get more details about what to expect from each sensor check out the docs.

Available for Google Play Store version only:

  • Activity

Available for all users:

  • Audio
  • Bluetooth
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Last Reboot
  • Light
  • Phone
  • Pressure
  • Proximity
  • Next Alarm
  • Sim 1 & 2
  • Steps
  • Storage

Sensor Enhancements

In addition to all the new sensors mentioned above we also had some improvements to our existing set of sensors. The battery state sensor now includes the battery health as a attribute and will also issue a second update call a few seconds after being plugged in so the state can update faster. The WiFi connection sensor was also updated so the state and certain attributes will update upon any network detected change. This state change also means that if you have multiple access points you will be able to see the device switching in real time.

NFC

The app now supports reading and writing to NFC tags so you can build automations off scanning the tag. Home Assistant Core 0.114+ is required for this feature. Keep in mind that certain phones will require you to have your phone unlocked before it can read the tag. More details about how it works in the docs.

Screenshot of NFC Screenshot of NFC.

Template Widget

A new widget was added to give the user full control over creating a template widget with just about any data they want! Users will see the template rendering in real time as they build it. I personally recommend to start building your templates on a desktop as it can feel a bit cumbersome on a phone or tablet. This widget will update every 15 minutes or when it is tapped.

Screenshot of the Template Widget Screenshot of the Template Widget.

Theming

You can now set the theme of the app independently from the device theme. This is useful for users who like a dark theme on their device but use a light theme for Home Assistant. In addition to this change we also had a few more fixes around themes.

Screenshot of App Theme selection Screenshot of App Theme selection.

Additional Improvements

  • Support for H265 videos was added
  • Entity state widget was enhanced to allow for multiple attributes and a custom separator
  • Widgets were enhanced overall to allow material icons
  • Notifications can now use :smiley: like you can in Discord
  • Lots of fixes across the board

Special thanks to chriss158, colincachia, David-Development, JBassett, klejejs, noam148, skynetua and uvjustin for all of your contributions. So keep them bug reports and feature requests coming, we’ll chat again soon!


The month of 'What the Heck?!'

Welcome to the month of “What the heck?!”

Home Assistant is now almost around for 7 years! During that time, it has grown into a big project, beloved by many of you. However, as the project grew, some things might not have turned out the way it should be, are missing or maybe even started annoying you. That is what this month is about.

We realize reporting bugs on our GitHub might be a steep hill. You’ll need a GitHub account, report an issue following the issue templates using Markdown and the report itself needs to be written in a way a developer can work with it. Furthermore, we use our issue tracker for tracking actual issues and bugs; not small feature requests or annoyances.

While this is a common and reasonable process to collect, track and process bugs, our issue tracking process might not be the ideal way to learn about annoyances or small tweaks and improvements that can make us all enjoy Home Assistant even more.

In May, of this year, the Ruby on Rails project had a similar month, which we have enjoyed watching. Now, we are going to do something similar.

Today, we have opened up a Community Forum category as a safe, lower barrier place to tell about your Home Assistant “What the heck?!” moments, and more importantly, discuss and vote on topics your fellow users have brought up.

Frenck recently tried something similar for Home Assistant on Twitter, by asking:

The responses to that question were amazing! Full of inspiration, recognition of stuff that annoyed us as well, but also some really really good suggestions. And this is not just about new tiny little things, examples may include:

  • I’d love to see some Home Assistant sensors with things like: The total automations, triggers processed this hour, the total number of integrations, entities, number of events fired.
  • I want to be able to upload a backup on the frontend on the first install.
  • Maybe you are annoyed by some logs that you need to refresh and scroll to see updates?
  • You have a lot of template entities that all do the same thing and maybe could be handled by Home Assistant automatically.
  • Always need a workaround to automate something the way you like and really wished Home Assistant provided a better trigger/condition for it?

These are the things we are looking for, the things we should share this month.

We are really looking forward to all the stuff that will be brought up! This will be interesting!

Join us on the forums!

Image of a person expressing a what the heck moment So, when does Home Assistant trigger this moment for you?

FAQ

  • “I have multiple things! Should I put all my stuff in a single topic?!”

    No, please create multiple, smaller topics. Each topic can be voted on, picked up and resolved. Having multiple things stacked in a single forum topic, makes resolving, discussing and voting on them hard. There is no limitation on how many things one can suggest this month.

  • “Is everything reported going to be fixed/addressed?”

    There is no guarantee that will happen. The goal is to lower the barrier to reporting things for one month. Home Assistant still relies on contributors to address or improve the project. However, we do think collecting feedback this way can tremendously help with the upcoming Hacktoberfest.

  • “I really want this new integration to be implemented, so I can use my devices. Is this the right place for it?”

    No, this event is not for requesting new device or services integrations. Please use the “Feature Requests” forum category instead.

  • “I’ve found a bug and am comfortable with GitHub. Where should I report my issue now?”

    If you are comfortable with using GitHub, please, by all means, file an issue report on GitHub.


0.114: Dark mode, Open Z-Wave progress and more automation & scripts

Ooh boy, time flew this release cycle; it is time for 0.114 already!

Personally, I’m hardly even done implementing all automation features added in the previous release. 😅

Ever since our Lovelace UI started as a beta, back in 2018, one of the most requested features - arguably - is a dark mode. No wonder, as a dark mode is added to software everywhere nowadays.

This release adds dark mode! @bramkragten didn’t stop there and added color pickers for the main theme colors as well. I looked forward having it, an easy way of having a bit of theming, without the need for themes.

This is by far the most noticeable feature of this release, mainly because it is immediately apparent after the upgrade.

Meanwhile, the beta Open Z-Wave integration picks up speed in terms of contributions, reports, fixes and improvements. I’ve been using it already, and I love it. My Z-Wave network has never been better and more stable. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would highly recommend doing so. There is a nice community guide on how to test it without switching over.

Besides the listing below, 0.114 may feel a bit “empty”, however, it isn’t. It is packed with little things and fixes. The “All changes” section is definitely worth a look this release.

Enjoy the release.

../Frenck

Dark mode and theme color pickers

We now have official support for dark mode. 🎉

We detect if your device is in dark mode; if that is the case, our default theme will go dark. You can override the automatic switching between dark and light theme in your profile.

Furthermore, you can now also select the primary and accent color for the default theme. We calculate all other colors to make sure everything matches and is readable.

Screenshot of the new dark mode theme settings Screenshot of the new dark mode and theme settings.

So if you upgrade to Home Assistant 0.114, you are using the default theme and your device is set to a dark mode; Please be aware that after upgrading, you will get a dark theme by default in that case.

Also, when picking colors, make sure you choose a primary color that is readable on both a light and dark background. For now, this is just a local setting and has to be applied to every device.

For custom themes, there is a new option on the set_theme service call, mode: 'dark'; this allows to set a theme that will be used when your device is in dark mode.

Lastly, when using the set_theme service, the settings are now persistent across restarts. So if you have an automation that calls set_theme on startup, you don’t need it anymore. 😉

Automation & Scripts updates

In Home Assistant 0.113 we added tons of new features to automations and scripts. This release contains some fixes for issues discovered and reported, but also adds some smaller new features to extend it even more.

First of all, the repeat and choose actions are now available when creating automations or scripts via the UI.

Screenshot of the new automation features available in the UI Screenshot of the new automation features available in the UI.

Sub-second precision has been extended and is now available in all time-related notations. For example, you can now use 2.5 seconds/hours/minutes or even use it in full time notations: 23:59:59.999.

The automation.turn_off service now accepts a stop_actions data parameter. By default, when turning off an automation, any currently running automation will be stopped. This new option allows you to turn off an automation and optionally leave any currently active actions running.

Lastly, a small shortcut has been added to the time trigger, which now accepts multiple time values.

automation:
  - alias: "Example with multiple time values in a single time trigger"
    trigger:
      - platform: time
        at:
          - "05:00:00"
          - "06:00:00"
          - "10:00:00"
    action:
      choose: ...

Open Z-Wave (beta)

The Open Z-Wave (beta) integration is coming along nicely and others are started helping out as well! A shout out to @firstof9, [@RobBie1221] and @tradiuz for jumping in and helping out this release.

Some additional information is added to the UI for Open Z-Wave, you can now see device information right from the device page and shows information like the Z-Wave Node ID and other information about your Z-Wave device.

Screenshot of Z-Wave device information available in the UI Screenshot of Z-Wave device information available in the UI.

Furthermore, RGB color support has been added to lights, and bugs have been fixed using color temperatures and dimming. 💡

Lastly, unnecessary polling of devices has been reduced.

Yet another round of performance improvements

Did we tell you that @bdraco is unstoppable in his saga to improve the performance and stability of Home Assistant? His train just keeps going!

0.114 is no exception and a lot of smaller performance and stability improvements are made again.

A bit technical, maybe, but here is a small overview of the changes:

  • The internal device & entity registries are now indexed, and thus faster.
  • Setting up groups at startup is more efficient.
  • Reloading YAML configurations or checking your configuration is now quicker.
  • A context accompanies every event in Home Assistant (every trigger, automation, … has a “triggered by what and who”). These contexts are now created faster, which makes everything faster.
  • Tracking time pattern triggers are now scheduled on our event loop, which is far more efficient.
  • Processing of system logs is taken out of the main program loop, so it doesn’t interfere with things Home Assistant does for you.

Finally, if, for any reason, corruption is detected in the Home Assistant recorder database (SQLite), the old database is moved and a new, fresh database is created. This prevents issues during startup.

Honestly, the above isn’t even complete. 😅 Thanks @bdraco!

Share Diagnostics & Crash reports

With Supervisor 231, shipped with Home Assistant 0.114, we added a new option on the System panel, to share diagnostics and crash reports with us anonymously. This will allow us to find and fix problems.

The shared information is only accessible to the Home Assistant Core team and will not be shared with others. The data does not include any private or sensitive information and you can disable it in settings at any time you want.

This option is by default, of course, disabled. So, if you want to help to project out, consider enabling this option in the Supervisor panel.

This service is sponsored by Sentry.io - Thanks a lot!

Other noteworthy changes

  • You can now move Lovelace cards to a different dashboard and add cards to other than the main dashboard from the device pages.
  • Add support for safe area insets; For example, iPhones with notches now cover the entire screen while having enough padding for home swipe action and the notch at the top of your display.
  • HomeKit has now support for doorbells (thanks @adrum) and @bdraco added support for multiple camera streams.
  • If you use light profiles, those now support a default transition value, thanks to @donkawechico.
  • @agners added IPv4 & IPv6 (dual-stack) support to the Home Assistant web server, allowing it to run simultaneously on both.

New Integrations

Six new integrations added this release:

New Platforms

The following integration got support for a new platform:

Integrations now available to set up from the UI

The following integrations are now available via the Home Assistant UI:

If you need help…

…don’t hesitate to use our very active forums or join us for a little chat.

Experiencing issues introduced by this release? Please report them in our issue tracker. Make sure to fill in all fields of the issue template.

Read on →

Home Assistant Companion Apps: New and Upcoming Features

Hi, it’s been a while since we let you know about all the great things you can do with the Home Assistant Companion Apps for Android and iOS, so let’s rectify that now as there are so many exciting updates. Before we get started on that though, iOS users should take a moment to read this blog post which has some important information about a small change coming up.

A note on privacy

Currently we use Google’s Firebase notification service for sending notifications to your device and also for tracking crashes. We did this because of simplicity, due to how notifications work on iOS we can’t use just any server to send notifications, in fact there is a pretty narrow choice. Using Firebase allowed us to keep costs low, which Nabu Casa then covered so people are able to use it at no cost. However, many people were uncomfortable about this and would prefer an app that did not rely on Google’s servers. Well we hear you and we are actively looking at moving to other providers. While we have not completed this work yet, we just wanted to let you know it is something that is being actively developed and hopefully we will have more news very soon.

Android minimal app

On a related note, we are delighted to say we now offer a way to install a minimal version of the Android app that is completely free of any reliance on Google. This version of the app does not have location tracking or notifications. We hope that by providing this version of the app more developers will be excited about contributing to the app in general. You can find the APK on the release page up on GitHub starting from version 2.1.0.

What’s New(ish)

The short answer is lots! The Android and iOS apps are developed by separate teams so while the features are similar, they are not identical and do not follow a common road map. Android changes are up next, click here to jump to the iOS update

Android

Notification Improvements

Throughout the past few releases Android notifications were greatly improved with new features and fixes.

Starting in 1.8.0 we enhanced our image notifications to allow for not only a relative path (i.e. storing in your www folder) but you can also request a snapshot using the Camera Proxy API. All authentication is handled via the app so you don’t need to worry about it. You can also use click action and actionable notifications to navigate to a specific lovelace view.

From 1.9.0 you can now create and remove notification channels on the fly. This is helpful so you can create channels that can override your do not disturb settings, specifically for notifications like the alarm while notifications for your laundry can continue to let you be undisturbed.

In 1.10.0 we further enhanced our notifications to allow for many new options. Users can now change the LED Color, vibration pattern and importance of a message. These options can also be used with a channel to help set defaults to allow you to further distinguish between notifications. You can now group your notifications to help declutter the notification pull down. Persistent notifications were also introduced so you can’t simply swipe away those important notifications, you can pair this with the sticky property so the notification does not disappear. The message now allows for HTML formatting so you can highlight the important parts. Users can also supply an icon much like they can with an image. For the unimportant notifications you can set a timeout so after x amount of seconds the notification is automatically dismissed.

automation:
  - alias: "Alarm triggered"
    trigger:
      platform: state
      entity_id: alarm_control_panel.home
      to: triggered
    action:
      service: notify.mobile_app_pixel_4_xl
      data:
        message: "Front alarm <b>triggered</b>"     # some HTML formatting to highlight the alert
        data:
          channel: Alarm             # creates a new channel called Alarm that you can manage from your device
          importance: high           # set the channel importance to high
          ledColor: red              # make the LED flash red for this notification
          vibrationPattern: "100,30,100,30,100,30,200,30,200,30,200,30,100,30,100,30,100"     # SOS vibration pattern
          persistent: true           # set to persistent
          sticky: true               # make sure it doesn't dismiss if selected
          clickAction: /lovelace/alarm    # navigate user to the lovelace alarm view
          icon: /local/alarm.jpg     # relative path to the icon
          color: red                 # set the color of the notification to red
          group: alarm               # the group name to group together notifications
          tag: alarm                 # tag is required in order to remove the persistent notification

In the above automation example a new channel with the name Alarm will be created with a default setting for vibration, LED and importance. This notification will also be persistent and part of a group and tag along with an icon amongst other changes.

Sensors

Starting with 1.8.0 we have introduced a new Geocoded sensor that helps translate your GPS location to an actual street address.

Screenshot of the Geocoded Sensor Screenshot of the Geocoded Sensor.

The battery level sensor was split in 1.9.0 to include a battery state sensor so you can see when your device is actively charging, not_charging, discharging and full. You can also distinguish whether it’s wireless, ac or usb. The state now updates immediately upon being plugged in and unplugged to allow for quicker automations.

Biometrics

Biometrics were introduced in 1.9.0 to allow the user to lock down the app when they are not using it. Upon launching the app you will see a lockscreen like below requesting for either your fingerprint or face to unlock the app. You can set this feature up by visiting the App Configuration screen inside the app.

Screenshot of Biometric Unlock Screenshot of Biometric Unlock.

Additional Improvements

We have also been hard at working making improvements in other areas of the app:

  • There are now 2 widgets that you can set up, with Entity State being the latest addition. The Entity State widget will display the state and any attribute of the selected entity. It will update once every 30 minutes or when tapped. The Service Call widget was also enhanced to allow you to select from a list of valid and available services along with the ability to add additional data fields that the service may require.
  • In App Configuration the Home Network WiFi SSID option now allows the user to select multiple SSIDs.
  • A Cookie Manager was added to our WebView that will allow you to save cookies from sites that you may use in the webpage card.
  • More descriptive SSL error messages were added to help users resolve local issues they may encounter while setting up the app.
  • Device ID is now sent with the event data for actionable notifications.

iOS

Firstly, we should say a hello to Zac (@zacwest) who has joined the iOS team and contributed a huge amount of code in the last couple of months. In fact, Zac has rewritten much of the underlying code of the app in that time, so while it may look much the same, behind the scenes it’s almost a new app! Some features that are now in the iOS app are:

Stability

Making the app reliable and eliminating bugs was a big focus. You won’t have to pull-to-refresh as often, sensors update more reliably, and editing things like actions and notifications won’t accidentally delete them.

Whether it is to turn on the lights when you get home at night, or send a someone a notification that you’re leaving work and how long the journey should take, we know that this is what a lot of people use the app for the most and we also know the performance has not been 100 % and that changes in recent versions of iOS seem to have made this work. There have been a huge number of changes to work around these issues (unfortunately Apple’s CoreLocation framework is something of a black box), we now sanity check the location data before sending it to Home Assistant, checking if the accuracy is acceptable or if an update from a minute ago has better accuracy. We also try and get a new update when accuracy is bad. While we still use significant location changes (such as changing cell tower) to wake the app up from the background, we now automatically discard the data they provide and attempt to get a higher accuracy GPS location.

Empowering Notifications

Notifications are some of the more powerful ways you can interact with the app, and they are now even more powerful. Camera notifications will now stream via HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) instead of the older MJPEG standard when you have the stream integration enabled, giving you a more live experience; camera notifications also show up in the right aspect ratio; you can add per-action URLs that should be launched for each action of a notification; relative URLs (like /lovelace-tacos/0) will now open within the app without kicking you out to Safari.

Screenshot of new notification example triggers and service calls Screenshot of example triggers and service calls for notifications.

More frequent sensor updates while using the app

A lot of people have asked for the sensors to be updated more frequently. The problem we have is while the app is in the background it is asleep as part of iOS’s efforts to preserve battery. However, while you’re using the app it should be able to send data frequently. You can now set a desired frequency of sensor updates while you have the app open. This can be as slow as every hour or as fast as every 20 seconds! Hopefully this will be a huge improvement for people using iPads as wall-mounted kiosks.

No more duplicate integrations

Previously when you removed and reinstalled the app you would get a new ..._2 integration in Home Assistant along with a new set of sensors like sensor.freds_iphone_2. This was a pain! Especially for our amazing beta testers who often went through the app’s onboarding process several times in a day to check for bugs (THANK YOU!). Now the app registers its unique ID with Home Assistant, this means in most cases when you reinstall or reset up the app it should just pick and use the old integration and entities.

Usability

Another avenue of improvement is making things a bit easier. You’ll now find example triggers and service calls when configuring notification categories and actions within the app; theme color choices should always come through; you can adjust things like the zoom factor of the pages or how often sensors update if the app remains open; and more! You will definitely want to dig into the releases or play around in the app’s settings.

A look ahead at iOS 14

Coming to iOS 14 is Widgets, and no doubt there’s some huge potential here. A good analogy for what they can do is to think of them as Apple Watch complications; relatively static displays that can be updated with a multitude of data. One thing we’d love is to get an idea of the information and displays you’re interested in seeing here as Widgets get built out over the next few months. Please let us know any ideas you have on this thread.

iOS 14 is also introducing Local Push Connectivity, which adds support for push notifications on your local network that do not require a trip to the cloud. This, like Critical Alerts, requires explicit approval from Apple, but we’re hopeful about improving the experience with your boats and RVs!

That’s it, almost

Wow, thanks for reading all the way down here! Everything you’ve read about wouldn’t be possible without a very dedicated team of volunteers. In addition to the highlights above, we’ve also fixed a good amount of bugs and made other improvements across the board. Thanks goes to JBassett, KBerstene, chriss158, timmmeeeh, timmoo001, craftykoala, jeroenseegers, yoxjames, and neopilou on the Android side and robbiet480 and zacwest on iOS.

Two last things, firstly a reminder that you can find our complete docs for the apps on their own site. Secondly, as you’re the kind of person that reads whole blog posts (well done again!) you might be the perfect beta tester for our apps, if you think you could help out, you can sign up for the Android app here or the iOS app here.


Migrating the iOS Companion App to Nabu Casa

Hi there, your friend and pal, Robbie the iOS developer here with an important update about a change to the Home Assistant Companion App for iOS and a few steps you, the user, will need to take.

What’s changing?

Recently, I transferred the Home Assistant app from my personal Apple Developer account to a new Apple Developer account owned by Nabu Casa, Inc. Why? Because Apple has silly limits on individual accounts that have made collaboration with others near impossible for the entire lifespan of the app (please don’t tell Tim or Craig I called their limits silly). This meant that during times when my work or personal life have been very busy, app updates have been far less frequent than I wanted. These limits also make it such that, if I were to be hit by a bus tomorrow, the app couldn’t be easily updated on the App Store by others. The business account does not have these limits. Anyone on the account can update the app anytime without relying on me, Robbie, to push buttons. This will make collaboration easier and ensure the app will be available forever and ever, long after I’m gone.

Why Nabu Casa?

Why did we transfer it to Nabu Casa, Inc.? Why not Home Assistant, Inc.? The short answer is there is no Home Assistant, Inc. Apple requires that business accounts are owned by… businesses. Real businesses. Which Home Assistant is not. Nabu Casa was the best option. To be very clear, Nabu Casa does not own the app now. The copyright and license has not changed. It’s still entirely open source. I am not stopping my work on the app, neither are others. Nabu Casa is simply the account under which the app is published. The same rock solid privacy guarantees apply just as before. The only change visible to you will be the name shown as the author in the App Store (Nabu Casa, Inc instead of Robert Trencheny).

Does this mean there will be a charge for the app?

No.

What do you need to do?

Right now, we are waiting for Apple to approve the entitlement to send Critical Notifications for the new account. When that is done we will release an update (version 2020.5) from the new business account. Due to Apple limits, after updating you are going to need to re-authenticate one time to continue using the app. After that (assuming everything works) you are all done and the app will keep functioning as normal. No integration changes, no push notification changes, your actions are still there, etc etc. Remember that depending on your device settings, this update may well happen automatically, that’s why we’re telling you all about this in advance.

When is this happening?

We’re not quite sure about this sadly, currently we don’t expect it to be before August 10th. As I mentioned, we are waiting for the new business account to be granted the critical notification entitlement. The time frame for this is entirely governed by Apple and beyond our control. We will be sure to keep you updated via Twitter and Facebook so make sure you follow us! The current version of the app will also send a push notification closer to the time. We are currently working with our awesome team of translators to get this translated along with the in-app instructions that will be included in the 2020.5 update.

Thanks as always for being a Home Assistant Companion user. Please leave a review if you appreciate the app, it’s the fuel that keeps the fire burning.