Wink hubs lost connectivity and functionality since an outage began on July 1. As of today, July 13, it’s still a problem according to the official Wink Status page. Indeed, until yesterday, there wasn’t even a detailed status update from Wink. Now the company says it’s working to fix its connectivity issues. If you can’t wait for Wink or have decided that enough is enough for the $5 you pay monthly to Wink, you do have some options.
Regular readers may have a feeling of déjà vu since it was only last month that I wrote a similar post. That time it was due to Insteon quietly all but disappearing. So some of my approach will be similar. And the good thing here for current Wink users is that you do have options. Some are better than others in terms of re-using your existing connecting devices.
First and foremost to know is that even though Wink services are down, you still have local smart home control. That is if you don’t or haven’t restarted your Wink hub. I suspect many Wink users are already past that point of no return but if you haven’t restarted the hub, you still have some functionality.
For those that plan to migrate away from Wink, you’re in one of two very likely camps. You either use a Google Android or Apple iOS on your phone. I’ll start with the latter group because there are more choices available to you.
From Wink to Apple HomeKit
Obviously, you could switch over to Apple HomeKit although if you want a HomeKit hub, you’ll need to have or buy an Apple TV or an Apple HomePod. Technically, you can use an iPad as a HomeKit hub. However, once iOS 16 arrives this fall, you won’t gain the new functionality, which includes upcoming support for the Matter standard.
HomeKit relies on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for connected devices, along with QR codes and NFC as device pairing options. So if your Wink home is built primarily around Zigbee, Z-Wave, or some other RF standard, you’ll be replacing those connected devices on this path. Some Wink-supported devices also work with HomeKit thanks to a bridge: Think Philips Hue and Lutron, for example.
After trying just about every smart home platform on the market, I’ve ended up on HomeKit. Obviously, it helps that I use an iPhone. But the compelling reasons are because HomeKit works so well and has additional privacy features that I prefer.
A related alternative to replacing all of those non-HomeKit devices would be to consider HomeBridge. This is a free software platform that you can run on a PC, Mac, Linux machine, or Raspberry Pi. It has more than 2,000 plugins that bring non-HomeKit-supported devices to the HomeKit platform.
If you’d rather not mess around with the installation process, you can buy a pre-installed kit called HOOBS for $249. I’ve tested HOOBS and it works well. Personally, I’d simply spend the time to download the free HomeBridge software and install it myself. It’s not that difficult.
Other third-party hubs
Home Assistant is free software that you can install on a computer or a Raspberry Pi. And like HomeBridge, it has numerous plug-ins for connected device brands and types.
Home Assistant has continuously improved its functionality and interface over time. Frankly, it’s a powerful smart home platform that gives you a high level of device control. Just know that if you want remote access to your smart home, there is a subscription fee of $6.50 per month.
Hubitat is a physical hub, so it would replace Wink in your smart home. The hardware currently costs $99.95 and it is relatively easy to configure the software.
The good news is that some Wink users have recently made the switch to Hubitat and found the process to be relatively quick and painless. That’s because of the broad device support with Hubitat’s software and the combination of radios in the hardware. Inside you get Zigbee and Z-Wave support, with wired Ethernet connectivity for your home network. Hubitat is also well known for providing robust local control.
Either of these options supports the major voice assistants and platforms, so if you have Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Samsung SmartThings devices in your home, you can reuse most, if not all of them.
Go all in with Amazon or Google
This option may be best if you already have many Amazon or Google-supported devices connected to your Wink hub already. You can simply migrate all of your supported device right over to Amazon Alexa or Google Home directly. And you can do that without even purchasing a new smart display or speaker since these are cloud-centric solutions.
Ideally, you’d want to add some Amazon Alexa or Google Home hardware to this setup. Otherwise, you’ll be relying on your phone to manage and control all of your devices. A smart display or a speaker would allow for voice control when your phone is out of reach. Plus it’s a more family-friendly solution since anyone can state voice commands.
Of course, you don’t need to do any of this. You could simply wait and see if Wink’s service reappears. And it might. But if you’ve had enough of outages, particularly when you’re paying a subscription fee, you have plenty of good options. That includes some where you may be able to reuse your existing connected devices and repurpose your smart home investments.