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Google rolls out “If This Then That” support for its $200 OnHub router (arstechnica.com)
193 points by shawndumas on Apr 29, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 189 comments

OnHub is one of the best routers I've ever owned. I've been buying custom router hardware for years -- I even went as far as building my own OpenBSD / PFsense router way back when, but nothing I've ever built (or bought!) has given me the same reliability / stability / speed as the OnHub.

I'm seriously impressed with it.

Also: the OnHub management app for mobile is AMAZING. It is so cool.

Awesome product. Really great to see them put more effort into it and support integrations with IFTTT :D

Single data point on custom router build reliability:

I've been using IPFire/pfSense on a little passively cooled Celeron box for a couple years. It reliably hits the theoretical gigabit limit ~800Mb/s and has never once failed even while running intrusion detection. Coupled with a ~$150 wireless router-turned-access point, I have never had a single reliability issue.

Have you ever measured combined power usage of your two devices?

In what circumstances do you foresee the power usage of networking equipment as having more than a notional impact on one's life? (Serious question)

For one: if you live in a place with unreliable power supply (as I do), it dictates how much backup time you get from your UPS.

To clarify, when the power goes out, you are still able to get online? Otherwise it would seem like it would be somewhat pointless to have the networking equipment plugged into the UPS. I have worked online during a power outage using a cellular internet adapter, but obviously no UPS or router was involved there.

The outages are almost always due to load-shedding, so the POTS network doesn't lose power and our ADSL link remains connected.

Interesting! I appreciate the response. Sorry that you have to deal with that, though.

Power outages can be very local. So yes, you can use internet using UPS backup.

Have you actually experienced this? I can easily imagine that a given apartment/home could be out and the building/distribution point still be up, but anything less local than that would certainly take my connection offline. And I'd very much hope that my domicile wouldn't have such spotty power as to make me need to worry about having my router on a UPS. In places I've lived with spotty power (Central America) the whole town or island would typically go out. Are you describing a hypothetical situation or is this actually a thing?

Historically where I live, power outages wouldn't affect the copper telephone network. At least not for reasonable durations cuts.

I don't have an analog phone anymore, so I don't know how true that still is, post recent network upgrades.

I have coworkers who used VOIP phones, and who kept their routers and wireless base stations on UPS. I'm not sure if that setup was ever tested in anger.

Landline phones were powered by the phone company, over the lines. As long as the wires themselves aren't down, the phone company can keep the system working for days without power -- phones themselves don't need much power. DSLAMs do, though.

> Otherwise it would seem like it would be somewhat pointless to have the networking equipment plugged into the UPS

Power cuts for me are typically short lived (often due to a RCD in the house rather than an actual outage). My networking gear is on my UPS, so that local transfers (e.g. to my NAS) can continue, or so I can shutdown my NAS manually if I'm not using it to get a little more time out of the UPS (I can probably do that via the hardware switch, rather than the WebUI, so not a huge concern).

I grew up in Miami and I remember one time a hurricane knocked power out at our house for over a week. We got a generator and we were able to get online. School was cancelled of course, so I was thrilled. I don't remember if we had DSL or cable at that point. Telephone always seemed to withstand power outages too. You don't even need a generator or UPS because corded phones can power themselves with just the phone line.

Curious: what do you do with the management app?

I have an Apple Airport thing and had a similar experience - years of buying cheap routers then suddenly I had one that "just works". To the point that I haven't had to open/use the administration panel in an absolute age.

I use it for a bunch of stuff: to share access to my guest network with visitors: you can basically click the 'share' button and send an SMS / hangout / * message to someone with your network SSID / password for quick access.

I also use it to monitor my connection: do speed tests directly from the router (even remotely!).

And finally: monitoring network usage, stats, etc. It's a beautifully designed, fluid, fast, and just all around amazing app!

The app also gives you insights into what's happening with your OnHub -- per device traffic sums, speed tests, alerts, etc.

And we're constantly improving it.

IMHO that's the real win with the OnHub; the router itself is constantly upgraded with up to date firmware with security updates and new features. And the mobile app that administrates it is constantly getting new features.

Maybe I should transfer to marketing.

Honestly Google's rep for discontinuing support for stuff is why I'm not interested in such a connected device. Will it continue getting updates after Google drops it in 0-5 years? Who knows. Will the open-source community be able to put OpenWRT on it or something to give it life after it can no longer receive firmware updates? Not sure.

I do know that my current Ubiquiti and Apple network infrastructure devices will still work if I plug them in in 10 years. I can't say the same for this. $200 seems reasonable for what it does, but less so if it's knocked down to dumb router mode if Google pulls the plug some day.

As an aside: I'm in the OpenWRT camp right now, and minimizing my exposure to large companies, but I find this constant drum beat about "Google shutting products down" to be tiring. It also derails from the topic at hand.

I think it's great what they're doing with OnHub, and hope we can have iOS/Android apps for managing OpenWRT installs too. I wouldn't personally recommend buying one unless you can at least install ddWRT, but I haven't even bothered to learn what CPU they are using.

Yes, it is tiring when Google does this. I'm so tired of it that I'm not willing to invest my time, data, or processes into new Google services or products.

If you are also tired of this drumbeat, please ask Google to stop beating the marching-products-to-their-doom drum.

What reassurance does Apple give that Google do not?

I have an OnHub, but even then I'm a little wary of Google's track record when it comes to "sunsetting" products.

There is no explicit foolproof assurance from either Apple or Google, but in Apple's case they haven't been known for introducing products and then dropping all support for it when it fails to live up to sales/strategic expectations.

In fact Apple's modern track record is pretty impressive - the latest iOS runs on a phone introduced in 2011.

Google's "throw everything at the wall and keep the stuff that sticks" approach is IMO one that only makes sense when you discount brand value completely and assume nobody will remember the stuff that didn't stick, and their unceremonial shutdowns. It's a theoretically appealing approach but IMO impractical because people remember.

Even when Google compensates people for the shutdowns - see the Nexus Q - it still leaves a bad taste, and makes people wonder if they're buying a real honest product in a particular space or an experiment to be cut lose at a moment's notice.

Wow, what kind of bias would lead this comment to be downvoted into grayness?

A positive bias towards anything coming from Google. Just look at the number of Google employees on this thread...

The "let's see what sticks" approach might work well for software, especially the Google kind: ad-supported "free" cloud-based software services. Complaints trigger the knee-jerk reaction of "you never paid." It doesn't work for hardware, and I don't know why Google would risk its reputation for what must barely move the needle on their income statements.

Apple's approach of providing SDKs that work with their existing devices, thereby testing the waters and seeing what products get built, what consumers like, etc. before entering it themselves seems like a much more sensible move.


It doesn't require phoning home to Apple, for one

Google doesn't require phoning home - it'll just continue to use the same software it does today. Similarly, my Apple router phones home to detect when a software update is available. I don't really see the difference here.

You're not over Google Reader yet?

Well that and the Nest Smart Home hub they decided to kill off a few weeks ago:



I keep saying this. People keep ignoring me, but it really does matter in this case. This only happened AFTER nest was no longer a Google property. To me the timing seems somewhat suspicious and I believe Nest pushed for more autonomy. They were never really integrated into Google proper. Their stuff runs on their on servers & software stack and their HQ isn't on the Google campus.

> This only happened AFTER nest was no longer a Google property.

Huh? Nest is still a Google property.

Nest is an Alphabet property: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nest_Labs

That makes "This only happened AFTER nest was no longer a Google property" a totally meaningless semantic distinction, then, and leaves me confused as to the point you're trying to make with it. You don't suddenly have "a new boss" when they get married and change their name.

That seems like an odd distinction. Isn't everything Google owns also owned by Alphabet? Is the consumer supposed to perceive a difference?

Google is now a subsidiary to Alphabet. So no.

Well, it seems that it is going to to make a difference in how Nest is managed.

Google has just created a hardware division that will handle most of its efforts in that area :

Nexus, Pixel, OnHub, ATAP, Chromecast, consumer hardware, ... they are all going to be integrated in this division instead of being scattered throughout the company.

Glass will also become a part of that division (Nest has been handling it since the end of the explorer program).

Nest will continue to operate independently.

Nest runs their software on AWS, they call that out here: https://nest.com/security/

That story has already been beaten to death....lol.

Nest bought out Revolv - and then immediately ceased all sales.

They then kept the servers running for another 18 months, before announcing they were going to shut them down.

Revolv was an also-ran in the home automation stakes - speculation on my part, but there was probably a reason they got bought out instead of raking in the big bucks.

Let's say they sold a few thousand units - do you really think it's worth keeping it running indefinitely? A lot of those people have probably moved on.

I don't have hard data to back this up - but I have a growing suspicion most of the people shrilly screaming the loudest on HN don't actually even own a Revolv - the chances of them being one of those few thousand of couple is pretty small.

> Let's say they sold a few thousand units - do you really think it's worth keeping it running indefinitely?

That's not the only option. Some alternatives would have been to make it not a SASS reliant brick. Or to open source enough that people could do that work themselves, at least in theory. Or to offer buybacks. I did read:

> Nest is working with customers on a case-by-case basis on compensation, according Burnett. The company would not disclose exactly how Revolv users would be compensated or whether their Revolv devices could be replaced by Nest devices.

( Edit: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/06/nest-to-disable-revolv-hub-mu... )

Any former Revolv users want to disclose how they did/didn't get screwed over, actually?

It says on Revolv's website that they're giving full refunds to current customers:

"If you're a current Revolv customer, please email us at help@revolv.com so we can help you out during this transition and provide you with a refund of the purchase price of your Revolv hub." - http://revolv.com/

>do you really think it's worth keeping it running indefinitely?

At some point, I think it becomes less about "worth" and more about doing the right thing. Is it fair that everyone who bought that device is left holding a worthless chunk of plastic because of the inscrutable whims of various SV tech giants?

If not for reams of legalese nobody reads and yet has to agree to in order to even hook the thing up, it would probably already be illegal in some way.

Your point about "doing the right thing" is a complete logical fallacy. Are you implying that group A is somehow more deserving that group B?

Don't forget - the "tech giants" you refer to are comprised of people, most of whom have jobs and families

This isn't about whims of tech giants - more about whims of the market.

If the pitchfork-waving masses on HN screaming about Revolv had all actually, well, bought a Revolv, I suspect the company wouldn't have gone bust. The fact of the matter is - the market (or we) spoke - we didn't like Revolv, and that was the reason they failed in the marketplace.

I don't think Nest made any secret of it - as soon as they bought out Revolv, they announced it quite publicly on their blog - we are stopping all sales of this product, immediately - but we will continue to support it for some time.

This was no deep conspiracy - it was, well, the product's a wash, we're buying out the company, and keeping the team.

Think about it - they probably still had stock of the product lying around at the time - they would rather just destroy those than sell them - what does that tell you about the product?

http://www.theverge.com/2014/10/24/7061557/nest-acquires-rev.... http://www.cepro.com/article/theories_on_home_automation_hub....

There were heaps of pundits at the time who speculated on why Revolv failed.

I think that's a far more worthy topic of discussion (i.e lessons learned on why it didn't gain traction), than going on about why we're not supporting a failed product from 2 years ago.

I don't think you know what a logical fallacy is. Which one did I commit? Calm down, please. I am not "waving a pitchfork". I didn't own a Reolv, I don't have a horse in this race.

However, I do think that there's a valid discussion to be had over the fate of a device that's integrated to the point a "home automation hub" is. The normal expectation is that these devices continue to work for the life of the device, not when some company throws a switch somewhere.

The problem here is that there's no alternative. No graceful degradation. If Ecobee dies tomorrow, I still have a working thermostat.

This? None. Your device is now literally and figuratively worthless, the money you spent on it literally wasted. Were I a purchaser of one of these things, I'd be feeling damn scandalized, ripped off, and rightly so.

Revolv was sold as a cloud-managed device - the thousand or so people who bought one knew this.

This isn't a unique problem just to Revolv, or home automation.

What happens when any company that provides a SaaS or cloud service goes bust?

Say you host your app on AWS, or DigitalOcean - if the company shuts down, will you claim that it's not "fair" for them to shutdown on you, and they must keep your application running?

Tech companies shut down all the time - sure, it sucks both for the people that work at that company, and for their customers (but I suspect more for the employees - you may have just lost some expensive tech toy - they've potentially lost their livelihoods.)

Let's take a step back, and look objectively at the facts - there was a small hardware startup, that created a cloud-based home automation product.

A few thousand people probably bought it - not enough to keep the company going. They were acqui-hired, all remaining stock destroyed, but the company that acquired the team decided to keep the servers up for a couple more years. After that, they announced they were pulling the plug.

Sure, it sucks - but they bought a cloud-managed product from a new hardware startup. I don't think any of these people were stupid - they knew exactly what they were buying.

If they didn't want to have this risk, then they would have bought from either 1. a larger company that was less likely to go bust or 2. a non-cloud managed product.

However, many of the advantages of the product are probably from it being cloud-managed. I see no issue with buying a cloud-managed device, as long as you know what you're getting into.

And look - let's be honest - home automation - I don't exactly want to be opening up my home network to the world, just so I can access it from my phone. Having a hosted service to do this is pretty cool.

Likewise, I don't have the compute power to do any cool ML at home - but if it was all done on the cloud, and there was a company behind it with the infrastructure and engineering effort, that's a good thing.

I have two Dropcams - they're pretty cool devices. Very easy to setup - but cloud managed. This is tradeoff I knew when I bought them. If the company disappeared, I understand my cameras would fail to work.

I would be upset - but I don't think it would be "unfair". I'd just hope that the people who worked at the company were doing alright.

they knew exactly what they were buying.

Why am I reminded of a scene from Airplane! here?

The average person probably doesn't even know what "the cloud" is beyond the name of a product or two. They know that they can push a button their phone and turn the lights off.

You imply a level of knowing and care that most people do not have, and so one that is not realistic, or reasonable to expect.

Charging money for hardware and then remotely disabling it sounds awfully similar to fraud.

They're giving full refunds to all their customers, so it's more like those customers got to use the device for "free" while it was available.

That is a different story. If only all vendors did the same.

No, that's literally exactly the story in question. What if this is the Google answer for hardware going forward? Buy what you're interested in before it's ready, give us signal about what's good/bad, and if we kill it we pay you back what it cost.

Isn't that what we as consumers want?

Yeah, but normally when companies get bought for small amounts of money it's because they're running out of cash and would probably get shut down anyways. If they were making a profit they'd have been bought for more or they would have raised more cash if their business looked like it might be sustainable.

I agree with you - I have no inside knowledge of this, but all the evidence from the time points to not many Revolv units being shipped - I'd be surprised if there were more than several thousand units sold in total, over the lifespan of the company.

They'd have no chance of ever recouping their investment, or gaining any kind of critical mass.

An acquirhire was probaby a good thing, at that stage - the founders/employees get a new job, and the customer base get an extension on the shutdown, at least for a couple years.

Plug in an Apple Airport Express from ~2008 and see how supported it is in El Capitan.

I had to use Wine on Linux to use an older Windows application to do the initialization.

So, at the risk of sounding hostile, the article notes the following:

Eight months later, the OnHub still doesn't support IPv6, and the USB port still can't be used for network storage. Bluetooth, Thread, and Weave support are all still dormant.

IFTTT support is great, but shouldn't the priority for a $200 router be in delivering features that were promised from the get-go?

The PM has been very active on various forums talking to users about best ways to implement things like storage. IPv6 is enabled in beta channel (channel switching was accelerated after many users expressed desire for it), and is waiting on upstream stability fixes, which afaik they are submitting directly to the linux kernel. It will roll out when ready, not before. This is what I want from a piece of infrastructure.

> IPv6 is enabled in beta channel ... and is waiting on upstream stability fixes

I'll be interested to see the kernel patches because in my experience the kernel-side of IPv6 has been stable for over a decade, including the past seven years with a native IPv6 Internet connection through Linux routers.

Google itself enabled public IPv6 connectivity in 2009 so I am surprised that a Google-affiliated team is having issues with IPv6.

> This is what I want from a piece of infrastructure.

I want infrastructure to support current networking standards.

Google I/O is in a few weeks - is it possible this is a precursor to something more involving Weave and other IoT systems?

I've been waiting to buy a router for the same reason. Expecting newer versions with support for Weave/Brillo being announced. I had also read somewhere that it has a disabled Zigbee/Z-wave radio - don't know if that's true. But it would be nice to have a "smart hub" integrated into your router.

I completely agree with untog. Apple's Airport device is so seamless that it's a pleasure to use.

What kind of firmware / security updates do you get with OnHub? Aren't firmware updates dangerous if everything is working perfectly (the possibility to introduce issues)?

They issued a security update within 24 hours of the cve, and > 99% of users had it within 48. That's what we need to happen.

Until you need to define static routes and realize it's not possible on the Apple routers (happened to me this week).

Is there anything out there that is already perfect and should not be improved?

I feel like asking "what kind of updates" is too vague a question to reasonably answer.

Yes, updating any software adds some risk of something breaking. This is not unique to OnHub. This is still a pretty nice feature for most people.

All due respect, as you don't represent your employer, but a LAN-facing router that is automatically updated by a PRISM partner is an immediate no for those concerned about surveillance (dragnet or targeted) inside the home.

Edit: misread the specs, point still stands.

OnHub doesn't have a microphone.

But the other x number of devices connected to it in your home do.

Automatic Security Updates is a contradiction in terms.

The average user is a lot more likely to be a victim of a targeted attack by a hacker than a targeted attack by the state.

Nobody's worried about targeted state attacks, they're worried about dragnet state attacks.

...which don't seem to rely on vulnerabilities introduced via update mechanisms.

I don't think we can say that for sure. For one example, there was the Skype update that removed most peer-to-peer features and added interception abilities.

Or, because peer to peer Skype sucked given the dismal status of the average home user's internet connection.

in the hypothetical case you're right, what gives you any assurance that the manufacturers of any of your other connected devices are not cooperating with the state?

Aside from the idiotic mandatory app, that's not at all exclusive to OnHub.

The management app is a pretty neat way to set up a router - it certainly beats futzing around with a shitty HTML UI.

Other than that I've found it useful for testing WiFi signal strength - in old brick buildings you can get unintuitive dead spots, and the app lets you put your phone somewhere and test signal quality.

Actually I have the opposite experience. I need to use my routers at events for all kinds of situations. If the router uses html I can configure it regardless of os and having to go find an app. I also often use the router without internet (only need lan) which means no internet to download an app

Apps to configure routers are an anti-feature IMO

Same. I have an older Airport and it just works. I also have an express to extend the network and it also just works. I don't know the last time I had to use the management tool except to apply updates.

I haven't seen my OnHub since I turned it on last year. This puts it well ahead of all other wifi access points I have owned.

I haven't seen my Asus ac68 ever since. Reading these comments all the way down leaves the impression as the hefty overpriced OnHub is the only reliable wifi router on earth.

Same here - Asus RT-AC68U running DD-WRT has a current uptime >100 days and noticed no problems with it during that.

The only downside is lack of auto-updates, but for my setup I'm not too concerned about that (WAN-side management features are disabled, and is behind another router anyway; occasional manual updates mostly mitigate LAN-side attacks [and web UI is usually disabled which prevents most of them anyway])

I haven't seen my $50 Buffalo N300 since I bought it, flashed and configured dd-wrt on it about 2 years ago.

Your N300 is not getting security updates, but my OnHub is.

Pray tell, security updates for what?

My router has all WAN-side management features etc. turned off, WPS is turned off and it has a long random WPA passphrase. Unless someone breaks into my apartment, there just isn't a significant potential for security risks that I'm aware of.

Unless you also disable execution of Javascript on all the devices that connect to your network (including your phones, set-top boxes, etc.), these devices can be used to attack your router from the LAN. Just use Javascript to autosubmit a form with action="" (you can autodetect the IP, look for Javascript port scanners on Google) and you're in.

And before you say that DD-WRT is not $WEIRD_CHINESE_BRAND and obviously doesn't have such vulnerabilities on its HTTP interface that can be accessed without auth, see https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-9341... for some real examples, including "getting root by sending an HTTP query that doesn't require any authentication".

In fact, for that remote root exploit, disabling Javascript execution wouldn't even help that much, because it can be triggered through e.g. <img src="..."/> on any HTML page you visit (with some guessing required for the IP address, but there are only so many IPs people commonly use for their gateway).

How is that any more secure? Are you sure every native app on your phone isn't sending the correct network packets to your router to reconfigure it? Seems like in either case all you need is a password to protect either in a secure enough way. Or isolate the router config on its own vlan

DD-WRT allows you to set access control lists. A simple protection would be only allow device with X MAC address to see the admin page(s). That device could be a virtual machine that only exists to manage the router.

Or simply disable the freakin' web interface if people just can't get it secure?

You should still apply security fixes for (relevant) kernel and sshd issues, of course.

At this point it would be the best if Google just contributed to OpenWRT project itself.

All products probably have (undiscovered) security holes - whether it's issues with the firewall, issues with the management console, SSL vulnerabilities, manufacturer backholes that get discovered later, or vulnerability in the wireless encryption scheme - this is stuff we find out later (if we knew about it earlier, it would have been fixed).

Having security updates pushed to your phone is never a bad thing.

It's the reason why enterprise Linux distro updates promise security patches (but possibly not bug fixes) for such a long period - because people do care about these things. Security patches are a good thing.

Those precautions alone won't save you from CSRF and XSS vulnerabilities common in SOHO routers.

Agreed. I'm way more concerned about my computers and phones being compromised than I am my router. In comparison to the other devices I use the router has a tiny attack surface.

good thing the world is slowly moving to TLS, because your router, with its tiny attack surface, is the prototypical man in the middle

Same here.. Long string of custom built routers, pfsense with wifi, OpenWRT, etc... even at one point a very expensive Cisco industrial-class 2.4/5 AP.

Now I have an Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite as my "core" router, and the OnHub acting as just-an-AP in bridge mode. It Just Works, and works better than any piece of wireless gear I've had before.

My only "complaint" would be that I'm forced to use a mobile app for configuration - although in the OnHub subreddit, it was said a while back that a basic web UI was in development.

Why not get a ubiquity AP?

I had a Ubiquiti Unifi-LR (flashed with normal OpenWRT so I didn't have to use their Java-based management software for ONE access point) that worked great, but the OnHub works even better. The -LR was 802.11n-only.

The Unifi-AC runs about $269, more than the OnHub.

Looks like they now have a Unifi-AC-LITE, which is sub-$100, but it wasn't available when I got the OnHub that I know of.

Interesting. I was running pfsense since 2006 on a P4 box with PCI Intel pro NICs + WRT54G on DD-WRT, then on an AMD Geode-based HP thin client with an expansion board to give it PCI-E to use a Pro1000/MT card + Cisco Aironet 1200 from eBay that someone flashed LWAP FW onto and couldn't fix so they sold it as parts/not working ($50 IIRC, had to track down the right firmware, took a day of messing with it), and finally now an ERLite + Airport Express + Ubiquiti AP AC Pro.

Power usage on the P4 sucked (>100w idle). The eBay thin clients did much better, usually around 20-40w, and the ERLite is lowest (and it's fanless). I ran a Cisco 2651XM for a while before any of this, but it maxed out doing NAT slower than my home connection was. Honestly though, I was just super excited to get something off-the-shelf for $100 that was stable, supported, low-power, and didn't require much administration. Messing with this stuff was a fun hobby and I learned a lot, but now I don't have as much time and it just needs to work.

> Messing with this stuff was a fun hobby and I learned a lot, but now I don't have as much time and it just needs to work.

Fact of life right there. When I was younger I assembled my own PCs, researching the best CPU, case, etc. etc... these days I have a Macbook that I can't even open. Makes me a little sad, but I need something that I can rely on - and I don't really have the time to research and construct my own machine.

I miss it a little, though. While is why it's really fun to play around with Arduino stuff. Reduces it down to harmless hobby level.

FWIW, I recently bought mikrotik hardware, and my god... it's so much better than the regular stuff I've been using for years.

You need to be rather technical to use it IMO, but they're such a step above the rest you'd be mad not to buy one.

e.g. model to get at the moment for home use: hAP ac. it's a 5 gigabit port router with ac wifi.

What bothers me about this device is the necessity to have a live Google account, which takes in everything I surf in real time. I have serious reservations about this.

Create an account just for this router and fwd incoming mails to your main email.

Have you ever tried using an Apple AirPort Extreme? That's the router we're running with at home and it's been damn amazing. I haven't had to touch the thing since I bought it 1.5 years ago, and it's only been off three times during the time I've had it (all due to power outages). It's also ridiculously fast; I get almost all of my allocated throughput over Wi-Fi. It's amazing.

Can you explain this further? I'm running pfsense now and it's rock solid. Always has been. So, in that case are you saying that onhub is faster somehow?

Thanks. I work on the iOS mobile app, it's nice to hear positive feedback. Out of curiosity, are you using Android or iOS?

Using the Android app on my Nexus 6p. Absolutely love it.

Please pass along kudos to the Android / onHub teams!


The app looks cool but it doesn't really do much (not that I need it to do anything).

Until they discontinue support and turn the service off in a 18 months. It's hard to put any faith in google products anymore, especially with the new alphabet revenue strategy put into place.

The opinions stated here are my own, not necessarily those of Google.

If you are referring to Revolv, Nest/Revolv stopped selling the device the day Nest acquired them (Oct 2014), and they are also issuing refunds to anyone that contacts them[0]. The other major hardware cancel I know about was the Nexus Q which Google also provided a full refund for anyone that contacts them.

Sure, Google could cancel it, but they seem to only do that with something if it was a total flop, and they then do what they can to fully refund whoever was effected.


I think the problem is more that many people feel that Google doesn't care about their customers, for a variety of reasons that I'm sure you can imagine.

That's an image thing, and I'm sure you can come up with all kinds of historical facts on why that image is not right, or not right anymore, but that hardly helps fix the image.

I think that if Google really wanted to fix that image, they could do revolutionary stuff like promise long term support, or publish a phone number.

EDIT! westernmostcoy pointed out that actually they do, clearly, publish a phone number, which is pretty decent of them. I got the HN points anyway so it's too late now, but still, good to see! Maybe I should read a site before I criticize it.

This line of conversation is an easy way to get points on HN, but if you actually looked for a phone number for OnHub support you'd find one quite easily. Here it is in two locations:

Bottom right: https://on.google.com/hub/support/#ready "Contact Us" on: https://support.google.com/onhub#topic=6243113

I think doing things right is the way to change the image. Surely it's easier to trash your image than fix it, but with time I don't see why it can't happen.

The examples of refunds provided for Neus Q and Revolv are a good example of the company trying to do what's right, and I'm sure that helps the image a little bit.

Plus at least for the onHub they do provide email and phone support. https://support.google.com/onhub/answer/6270180

Is there a site I can request a refund for my Glass?

I feel like being forced to sell Google back my device lest they remotely brick it is not exactly a happy ending.

To be fair, getting a refund from Google like that seems like the best possible outcome (assuming the service will be shut down regardlesS).

My understanding was that they were going to remote-update to brick the device even though it had offline functionality that did not depend on the home servers.

I think the best possible outcome would involve them leaving the existing functionality intact.

There was just a little bit of outrage over the revolv before they started doing what they could to refund people.

Who are you quoting there? I didn't say that.

I put it on comments I make that are google related. I probably should have put it as a footer instead of header to the post. I'll do that in the future to not confuse it as a quote (I didn't think about it that way when I did it)

Oh, that makes sense now. Didnt mean to sound accusatory.

I knew what you meant. :) thank you for pointing it out.

Absolutely this! I roll with Pfsense hardware because the software is open source. Even if CMB and crew sell or make it proprietary I know that with such a large community some of the contributors will just fork it.

Too many ways for this Google gadget to be made a brick because they don't care about their customers.

For paid products, Google is being silly. The easy way to fix it is throw a wad of cash at people plus replace. For the Revolv they should have proactively offered a $200 apology credit in cash and a Nest voucher for a similar product. The cost of that goodwill is less than the negative reception they've gotten elsewhere.

I tried OnHub, but unfortunately it didn't have the option to force 5Ghz over 2.4Ghz for devices without going through some hacks. Where I live, 2.4Ghz wireless has 10% packet loss on average, no matter which router I use.

I'm happy that routers are finally getting the UX treatment they deserve, and their target market isn't for people who know the difference between the two, but OnHub should keep the nitty-gritty details accessible to power users if they so wish. I eventually had to return the router and go back to forcing 5Ghz on my old one.

An AP cannot prioritize 5 GHz over 2 GHz. It's up to the client to decide what to connect to.

Not true at all. The AP can reply to 2.4GHz requests with a delay so that the device gets connected to the 5GHz network first. If the AP is really sure, it can also send a force disconnect. That's how most roaming is implemented these days.

We have a version of hostapd that will do this for you: https://gfiber.googlesource.com/vendor/opensource/hostap/

We call it "bandsteering".

> An AP cannot prioritize 5 GHz over 2 GHz. It's up to the client to decide what to connect to.

While this is strictly true, an AP can encourage clients to prefer 5Ghz over 2.4Ghz. How do I know? The enterprise APs from the big players do this and do it well. Recent versions of the software that drives UBNT's UniFi APs also do a good job of this. (Every client I've connected to my UniFi APs at home has always been steered to the 5Ghz band. [0])

Like IPv6 support (which the OnHub reportedly still lacks!), sometimes it's best to try and accept the occasional suboptimal result. :)

[0] And yes, without band steering these clients would always connect at 2.4Ghz because of its stronger signal. So, I know that band steering is working. :)

True, in my case I just wanted to turn off 2.4Ghz entirely but the software wouldn't let me.

My iPhone can't prioritize 5Ghz unfortunately. There was some BSSID trickery I could do, but having guests over was a pain since the broadcasted SSID would always result in a horrible connection. By turning off 2.4Ghz entirely on my old router there's no such problem (though the range is reduced quite a bit).

Do you have a router that does this or do you normally just turn of the 2.4Ghz band?

On other wifi APs you can give different SSIDs to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios (and, on a ubiquity or other business-class AP, you can also add another SSID that spans both radios). Then you can have the client connect to the SSID which is available only on 5GHz (even as another client uses the SSID which is available on either).

The OnHub router has one SSID, but two BSSIDs that account for each frequency band. Unfortunately, some devices (such as iPhones) cannot choose one over the other, so I have been turning off 2.4Ghz in this case.

You can't connect to the bssid with an iPhone?

I just wish more of these companies would add support for a locally runnable IFTTT equivalent, or at least something like MQTT support so you can bake your own.

Absolutely true. MQTT exists, as does CoAP and AMQP. There's also simple JSON blobs that can be emitted under an API. None of these things are hard...

... But they do free you from the company. And these days, ball-and-chaining you to their servers is the big "In" thing to do.

Now for me, I'm a big fan of Node-Red. It's best described as a IFTTT for your machine/network. Runs locally, and just works. I also use PageNodes, a client-only modification of Node-Red. You can use it here:


(It's an IPFS link, and is on the permanent web. That link will always work as long as machines are hosting it.)

EDIT: Really? Multiple -1's for a valid criticism of "companies want you locked in to their network"? We just got done with Google killing off a whole platform because of extensive tie-in to 'cloud servers'. I'm just giving a converse answer how to approach the problem.

There is startup near me called losant[1] that pretty much does this. Their protocol is basically MQTT with a few small additions so if they /did/ shut down it wouldn't be quite as difficult to get up and running.

Unfortunately all of the neat IFTTT style stuff is all on their servers. They don't have nearly as many inputs and ouputs as IFTTT yet, but it is still enough to do some pretty neat stuff. They have also made it really easy to do reasonably secure stuff with your own electronics.

[1] Kind of difficult to find, because the just changed their name. http://losant.com

Huginn[0] support would be fantastic, but MQTT would definitely suffice.

0 - https://github.com/cantino/huginn

Yeah - I bought some belkin wemo devices, thinking that I could use their "smart" light switch to control an outlet on the other side of the room which it wasn't wired for.

It ended up working, but because the comms had to go through IFTTT servers, the lag was something like 10-15 seconds, which is awful when you want to just turn on a light.

The Wemo mobile app works on the local network and doesn't require IFTTT (?)

Look at running OpenWRT on a cheapo consumer router (I use a TP-Link router, but nowadays TP-Link is being stupid and shutting down the ability to load custom firmware so avoid them). You can install all kinds of packages like mosquitto MQTT server.

The gratuitous negativity of this article is entirely uncalled for.

I would much rather that a device integrate with IFTTT and thus gain connectivity with the hundreds of services which IFTTT supports than for it to attempt to hand-roll integrations with a much smaller subset of services.

In case anyone disputes my claim of gratuitous negativity:

> Some smart home features finally come to OnHub, but using a non-Google ecosystem.

> Its only real differentiators were the funky design, easy setup, and the promise of future updates.

> Now with the IFTTT update, the OnHub finally supports some smart home features—but it's using someone else's ecosystem.

> IFTTT is now the gateway for controlling other things in your house via the OnHub rather than using some kind of Google communication standard like we expected.

> This is all still happening over Wi-Fi, too, so the OnHub is still not using any of the smart-home antennas it shipped with.

It's negativity, but I'm not convinced on the "gratuitous". They clearly mention the (IMHO reasonable) expectations compared to which this is negative.

I cannot understand why anyone would buy hardware from Google. Chromecast for $35 a pop is as much as I'd be willing to pay from something that they could arbitrarily shut down.

The "can be shutoff at any moment" problem is a huge problem for just about all hardware startups these days. Such huge reliances on cloud services. It's ridiculous.

Yes but most hardware startups have a single product and will put their entire companies effort towards keeping things going. If Google gets bored with a project you can kiss it goodbye.

At least Google will likely still be around in 12 months.

Guess what hardware startups might do once they end up on http://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/?

Like how I get a popup notice on my Samsung TV every few days about they're shutting off various apps like Skype on their smart platform?

$35 is about the right amount of money a smart TV enabler.

I really wish TV mfgs still offered dumb TVs, even for like $20 less. The features on the many I've played with (access to a lab with hundreds of smart TVs) range from "unbearable delay changing the volume + UI crashes randomly trying to switch set off" (yes this seriously happens on a newer production Samsung with the little click stick selector on the back as the ONLY physical button; turning it off requires clicking then scrolling to "power" and clicking again) to "noticeably slower but not unbearable when changing volume".

I really preferred my TVs to be as dumb and as responsive as possible, but I know that many people won't buy a dongle for the "smart" functionality of their TV has it built in, even if the experience is awful, upgrades are few and far between, support ends after a year, and the internals powering the smartness are non-upgradeable low-to-midrange smartphone boards on their new >$1000 set. Also, getting a >$10,000 TV doesn't get you much better software or much better smart guts, which surprised me at first, but I guess it makes sense; they're not going to spend millions in R&D for the products that sell in small numbers.

I bought my first "smart" tv last year, made by Sony. When it works, it's a great tv but every now and then an app will temporarily lock up and you have to wait 10-15 seconds for the tv to come back to life. Or other times it locks up entirely and I need to manually power cycle it. It's an Android TV.

I do enjoy some of the app integration (hulu, netflix, amazon), but at this point, I'd rather have a stable tv and use a roku instead.

They sort of do - look for "commercial signage" displays. Prices are similar to consumer models, and the "smart" crap is either removed outright or greatly reduced (I saw a number of versions with built in slideshow functions, but that's about it)

Smart TVs are universally awful.

Non-smart TVs are prevalent everywhere I shop

I have Rokus - don't need much else

Im curious how you think they'll shut your router off?

Certainly, they could turn cloud based features such as this off, but the router itself?

Your question rests on the assumption that it's "my" router, since it's a piece of physical hardware that I bought, and that it will continue to function after they shut down the cloud-based features that they used to lure customers in and justify the price tag.

Past experience - most recently with Revolv - suggests that your assumption is wrong and Google has no problem bricking the device instead of letting it function without cloud support.

In other words: When Google shuts down a product, it's 100% shut down. Hence, I cannot understand why anyone would buy non-throwaway hardware from them.

what computing hardware have you bought and not thrown away at some point?

I expect infrastructure hardware like routers to be used and supported for a minimum of five years. Google changes its policies and dumps products on a whim. It cannot be trusted with such hardware. Phones, sure. Chromecast, fine. Anything that has longer life expectancies, never.

My understanding is that OnHub routers are managed through a mobile app via Google's cloud. If Google end-of-lifed that service, owners would have no way to manage their routers.

The mobile app connects to the router directly not thru Google' cloud service.

The only thing that probably relies on Google's service is their "Send Feedback" feature.

What if they remove the app from the Play Store? Then I have to download the apk from random web sites and trust that they aren't trojaned?

OnHub runs (effectively) ChromeOS and self-updates, so in theory Google could send an update that bricks it but they'd have to be stupid to invite that class action lawsuit.

What would stop them?

EDIT: @sohailk, think you're missing the point, which is not if it's logical, but what literally would stop them from doing this?

(Hardware, legal, etc.)

common sense? locking down unnecessary software features is bad but not gamebreaking. locking down hardware would just be crazy.

Shucks. I just bought eero over OnHub because the former seems to answer the multi- floor wireless solution than OnHub.

I'm in a 4-story town home with PoE between floors, which works great, but Apple's AirPort Extreme + Express CONSISTENTLY stops resolving DNS while the wired connections are fine.

Looks like I have another alternative if eero doesn't work...

The remote update "feature" means this has a built-in backdoor into your local network. So you don't want to install this in a law office, anywhere that has to be HIPAA compliant, or any environment requiring security.

Why would you put this in a business? I suppose the same argument holds for space stations prisons but we haven't brought that up.

The lack of remote updates for any router probably also means that it has a back door. There's a pretty extensive list of home router vulns out there already.

Being HIPAA compliant is not generally an indication of a well secured network.

You might run a home business

A home business that his HIPAA compliant?

Which raises a question: WHICH router would you use in such an environment?

Yes, use juniper instead.

Same with Chrome, though.

How does IFTTT make money? I can't figure it out.

I read quite a bit of that and I'm not sure where it mentioned their revenue source.

I did see some mention of funding, and of very small fees (relative to operating a company) for having your integration on their platform.

This relies on an internet connection, right?

So many of these sorts of products do, and it is infuriating. It makes them utterly inapplicable for many environments. I'm building a home in a school bus. There will most certainly be times when I don't have a good (or any) internet connection, but I still want local and customizable automation.

My plan is to just roll my own with Raspberry PIs.

I'm willing to bet that you represent a very small segment of the population and are thus not a target for this product.

A product can't do everything and be the solution for everyone, each product has a target market and since you're in a niche, most products won't solve your problems.

Seriously... It's a router. Most people buy it so that they can get wireless internet. Needing to be connected to the internet for extra functionality isn't that odd in this case.

I'd be willing to wager that 98% of people who own one of these have a persistent internet connection.

If you live in a school bus, yeah, you're gonna have to make some compromises or roll your own sometimes.

Sure, a mobile solution like mine is a tiny portion. But there are many other reasons that the internet connectivity requirement might need to be a non-starter. Taken together, I suspect that these are a reasonable large minority; large enough, I imagine, to be a viable target audience.

Every time I read a story about IFTTT support, I want to shout "Please look at Zapier, it's so much better!"

Really, it's so much better.

Zapier = AWS Lambda with hundreds of pre-built integrations, webhooks for the rest, multi-step jobs, arbitrary code execution (JS and Python) ... all in a UI with monitoring that makes all the trouble go away.

Perhaps it is better, but it is very expensive if you want more than 5 zaps or 100 tasks/month.

Right now, I have 25 recipes on IFTTT, if I would have the same number on Zapier I would have to pay $49/month.

Went in to look for a recipe and didn't find it: I want to be notified when any new device connects to my network.

It seems pretty obvious to me and more useful than most recipes I've seen there.

It was super annoying to set up the OnHub. Instead of a standard web interface, they require installation of a mobile app.

I'd take that any day over the insecure, circa 1999 web UI on my Asus router.

There are many cases where native has advantages over web applications. Router config UI is about as far from that as possible.

> To create Recipes for things you would like to happen automatically, just register and login at IFTTT.com (it’s free) and connect to the OnHub channel. Then start cooking up the Recipes that serve you best. Because OnHub on IFTTT works with so many products and services, there are lots of options for Recipes you can create.

And why this needs to be cloud service? Instead of locally running demon on a raspberry pi?

I have my instances of Node-Red running on :

     1. Home IoT controller
     2. Public-facing webserver
     3. At friend's house where my 3d printers are
And they are all connected together via Tor for networking. Hidden Services are awesome, as they can semantically be treated as a huge ethernet hub (topologically speaking). And Node-Red can command and control other Node-Reds via other plugins.

Edit: There's 474 different Nodes that Node-Red can use. And one node is node-red-contrib-npm, which exposes any npm module as a node to Node-Red. Which sums that up to about 250,000 nodes. http://flows.nodered.org/

Maybe to make it more accessible to normal people?

I know a dozens of normal people who need a router but no non-tech oriented person who knows, cares about or would find utility in IFTTT.

Even if this was the case, a solution for normal people doesn't necessarily mean cloud based.

There's also a contest going on to win one, if you can think of a creative way to use the new IFTTT integration.


Is there a beginner guide for modern, home-use or pro-sumer quality, networking hardware in general, or device specific purchase recommendations for otherwise technically savvy people? Could someone please share a link? I've only ever used the hardware that comes for free with the contract from my cable operator, and I guess it works most of the time... but recently blind spots and and slow-speed-spots have been a nuisance.

Rules that depend on the number of devices connected to a router? Doesn't seem like a very reliable concept.

Where would "If This Then That" be if not without "Put That There"? [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyBEUyEtxQo

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