Before starting to use a spare smartphone or tablet as a hub to connect your MicroBots, please note that using a smartphone or tablet as a Hub aka Soft Hub (instead of a Smart Hub) has a direct impact on your user experience.
Pros of using a Soft Hub
1. No need to buy a Smart Hub device if you already have a spare smartphone or tablet.
MicroBot offers to users the possibility to turn an additional smartphone or tablet into a hub. We call it a Soft Hub. Use an old device or a device that you always keep at home like a tablet, to act as a Hub. You can save money, avoid adding another smart hub in your home and find a second life to your old but perfectly-working smartphone.
Using a Soft Hub makes the whole system portable. There is no need to configure the smartphone-turned-Hub each time you move places as long as 3G/4G or WiFi accesses are secured.
Cons of using a Soft Hub
1. Limitations when sending commands to control your home
When you use a Soft Hub, your overall experience, is subjected to the limitations given by your smartphone's or tablet's OS. Each smartphone brand has specific policy and conditions when it comes to delivering commands from the server to the device. Quotas limit the number of commands a device can receive from the server.
For instance, in the case of iPhone, there is a limitation on the number of push notifications sent per hour. See here for more information.
If you've used notifications up to the quota allocated by the OS, your device will not receive data updates from the server and you will have wait for a day until the quota is renewed to receive notifications again.
2. Limited runtime
Each smartphone OS has a specific policy that forces an app to terminate after a given amount of time has passed in order to save the smartphone's battery. Consequently, you may not be able to connect unless the app is forced awake by using specific methods. In the case of MicroBot app, Bluetooth is used to keep the app awake. However, this resource is also subjected to limitations given by the OS: the app is wakened up regularly at a pre-defined interval of time. This means the app will be able to retrieve data from the server regularly but not permanently. The data will be updated only according to the interval of time. Consequently, there may be a discrepancy, in terms of atmospheric data (Alert), appliance's status (Push) and so on, between what the app shows and what the values actually are.
3. Inconsistent connectivity and quality
Each smartphone or tablet has specific Bluetooth and WiFi chipsets. This means that the capacities and performance in terms of wireless connection (Bluetooth/WiFi) will vary from a smartphone (or tablet) to another. Your user experience may, therefore, be impacted depending on the device you are using.
How to get around these limitations?
iOS products (iPhones & iPads) will stop apps from running in the background. One work around is to leave the app open and the screen ON.
Android devices do not have the same issue of "turn off apps running in the background" but we recommend some setting tweaks (e.g. turn off automatic OS updates, app updates, etc.). These tweaks differ phone by phone, and it's impossible to cover all different Android versions. At a minimum, we recommend that you make sure your phone will not reboot from automatic OS updates.
There may still be limitations on each smartphone or tablet related to Bluetooth and WiFi chipsets. This means that performance in terms of wireless connection (Bluetooth/WiFi) will vary from device to device.
The Best Hub Solution
If you need to rely on the connection of a hub, we recommend using a MicroBot Hub M. MicroBot Hub M is currently in the final phases of development and was created to overtake the limitations existing with smartphones/tablets. When using MicroBot Hub, there are:
- no quota of notifications
- unlimited runtime
- consistent connectivity and quality
Therefore, MicroBot Hub offers an unlimited experience of your smart home, 24/7.