Early in December, I took advantage of a holiday sale to pick up a Flic hub and three accompanying buttons, for a total of $149.99 plus tax, so I could cluster some of my smart home devices into a routine that could be triggered without using my voice. Instead, I would use the Flic buttons to press once, twice, or three times to trigger one of three different actions.
I tested a number of use cases and found some that are very useful. A downside is the limited number of integrations the buttons offer and the latency associated with some of those integrations. However, if your devices work with the Flic buttons and you’d like to be able to leverage the convenience of a clicker, they can be very useful.
First, let’s talk about how the Flic buttons work. A single button costs $29.99 and can connect to your phone using Bluetooth. If all you want is a button to control your devices while your phone is nearby, then you won’t need a Flic hub. But if, like me, you want to control a bunch of smart home devices regardless of where your phone is (or there are other people in your home who would like to control these devices when you’re not there), then you’ll want to get the hub.
As a bonus, you can also buy an infrared (IR) dongle that plugs into the hub and can be used to control IR devices with a Flic button. I didn’t test this, but it’s a nice use case, especially for ceiling fans or AV equipment that uses IR.
Before you buy, you’ll also want to take a look at the integrations available to figure out which ones might work for you. Flic directly integrates with popular devices such as Philips Hue, Nanoleaf, IKEA Tradfri, LIFX, Slack, WeMo, Spotify, Homey, Chromecast, and the now-defunct Logitech Harmony. While the list is limited, there are lots of use cases that might work well. For example, setting up a Slack message at the flick of button, or gathering multiple brands of lights to perform together.
Flic also integrates directly with IFTTT, SmartThings, and Wink, which are aggregators of other smart home devices. So while I was frustrated that the Flic button wouldn’t allow me to control my Lutron lights, I was able to use IFTTT to pull together my Lutron gear to work with the Flic buttons. I was also able to create a routine with gadgets in SmartThings and control it with Flic.
Once you’ve decided that Flic will work for you, setting it up is easy. I used my Android phone, downloaded the app, and then plugged in the hub. From the app, I set up the hub with a name, then started adding buttons. To add a button to the hub, you simply click “add button” and then physically click said button. The app recognized it in seconds.
Setting up the buttons is especially easy. You get a function for a single tap, a double tap, and a triple tap. So in the button above, we used the single tap to turn off the Hue bulb in my husband’s bedside table lamp, a double tap to turn off his lamp and mine (it also has a Hue bulb), and a triple tap to turn off the Nanoleaf lights in the hall that like to turn on of their own volition in the middle of the night.
Those are all direct integrations that worked quickly and easily. When I set up a SmartThings routine, it also worked really well, but when I tried to create an IFTTT routine I ran into a bit of latency. I wanted to create a good night button that would need to talk to about six different services and control about a dozen devices. Since I pay for a monthly IFTTT subscription, I was able to create a multipronged applet on the service that would turn off these dozen devices, including my Ecobee thermostat and my Lutron lights.
However, when I pressed the button it took a good six to eight seconds for everything to turn off. This isn’t a big knock on the functionality, but if you don’t want the popcorn effect of lights turning off around the home, then it might not be for you. You do also need an IFTTT subscription. A cheaper (and quite frankly, better) alternative would be to use the SmartThings integration to create the routine you want, then simply assign the routine to a single Flic button.
One quibble I have about the buttons is that they are small and easy to lose. In fact, I’ve already lost one of them somewhere in my home, which is a real bummer. I wish they had a magnet or a base, like my Philips Hue button, so I could stick them onto things or make them bigger and easier to find. You can also use 3M tape to stick the buttons to things, but I prefer a less permanent solution.
Shortcut Labs, the company that makes the Flic, includes a page of stickers you can affix to the buttons to help tell them apart and also provide a hint as to their function (see the image of Flic button above, with a sticker).
The company expects the Flic buttons to last at least a year on one coin cell battery, which is about par for the course, but that time frame will change depending on how often you use it.
The button has been especially handy for giving my husband the ability to quietly turn off the bedside table lamp bulbs without having to turn off the lamp itself (rendering the smart bulb inaccessible to the internet when it’s time to turn it on with a smart control). It’s also handy for controlling the Nanoleaf devices we have in our homes, if for no other reason than I can never remember the names of my favorite scenes to control it via my voice.
So if you have a use case in mind that you’d like to set up using a single button to access multiple services, and Flic supports those services, this might be a good buy for you.