Nov. 28, 2022 - The latest version of the Crestron Home® OS features what Jason Oster likes to call "quality of life" updates. "Some updates include big-picture items such as whole-home lighting control, and we always try to also add some of the things that dealers have asked for — things that make the whole experience better," says Oster, Crestron's director of product management for residential solutions.
This latest update — 3.17 — introduces one of Oster's favorites. The home page of the graphic interface has long featured four "Quick Action" buttons with lightning-bolt icons next to each line of text, such as Arrive Home, Good Morning, Good Night, and so on. Now a dealer (or homeowner) can customize those icons, replacing the generic bolt with a much more relevant image. What seems at first blush like a minor adjustment is actually very impactful, as was discussed in the post describing the last update, 3.16:
UX solutions that lean on text are never as successful as those that are image reliant. (There's a reason that the apps on your phone, from email to Spotify, are easily recognizable icons with text beneath.)
Easy as ABC
The order in which these top four Quick Actions appear is no longer limited to an alphabetical sequence — again, a small change that makes the user experience much more intuitive. "For example, I can put 'Close Gate' next to 'Open Gate' after configuring those Quick Actions, which makes much more sense than an alphabetical setup." These buttons can be rearranged easily with simple drag-and-drop in the app, all found in the "More Options" or three-dot menu.
This update also includes adjustments to Quick Actions on the call screens linked to Crestron 2N® Door Stations. "The idea is a visitor presses the button on the front door or the gate, wherever it is, and up pops a video window so you can see who's at the door," says Oster.
The problem? Along with the video image of the person at the door, it also showed all the Whole House Quick Actions. "If someone's ringing a doorbell, I don't really need to see my 'Party' or 'Sleep' buttons, right? Now the dealer can customize the Quick Actions to turn on porch lights, open a gate, unlock a door; all the things you may need to do when someone rings the doorbell."
Default Wake Screen and Line Outs
Another "quality of life" improvement is a change in the default display on a home's touch screens. "In the past, the screen would wake up and display 'Last Selected,'" says Oster. Depending on the room and who's using it, that doesn't always make sense. "I may be playing music in the kitchen. I walk away, and my wife comes back a few hours later, and she's completely disinterested in hearing music — maybe she's just grabbing a bite to eat and needs lighting control." Now those screens have more options in addition to "last selected:" default room control, the rooms list, and the home screen. "Crestron Home is never a static UI — it's what sets us apart from the fixed settings on products offered by others," says Oster.
The 3.17 update also includes line-out improvements for a home's audio system. "In the past, a dealer would have to perform multiple steps for these non-amplified outputs and manually turn these zones on to adjust the minimum and maximum volumes," Oster explains. "Now they can do it directly without turning those zones on."
Android OS "Hard Buttons" and The AVA Remote
It's become second nature to use the hard buttons on the side of one's phone to control volume settings – and this update makes that functionality available on all Android™ devices. "That's something really directed at our international customers — Android devices tend to be more popular outside the United States. We intend to also add hard button support for iOS devices in a future update," Oster explains.
But this update includes more than just Android phones and tablets — it's also now available on the AVA Remote. (Currently available in North America; EMEA coming soon.)
When it comes to third-party products, Crestron's ongoing commitment to an open ecosystem (and giving dealers as many options as possible) is a huge part of the OS. A terrific example of this is the upgrade in functionality for the AVA Remote. "This Android update means that we have also enabled the hard keys to control volume, just like a phone on this AVA remote," says Oster. Additionally, the responsive pages of the Crestron Home app fit the remote's screen elegantly.
Another aspect of the update is primarily for overseas customers: Cable TV presets are hidden when there's no such service available. "It really cleans up the interface for those customers," says Oster.
It's worth checking out this edition of "Smash Tech" to learn more about the user experience of the AVA Remote (see video).
AVA is a Swiss-American manufacturer of connected home products with a focus on home control and audio streaming. The AVA Remote is an elegant, handheld touchscreen device and the world's first Google-certified remote control. It uses the full power of the Google Play Store to enable the download and use of native apps for smart home systems and device control, such as Spotify, Sonos, Ring, Crestron, and many others.
AVA sells exclusively to pro installers, and they carefully screen all applicants. Integrators outside of the US can get on the plan to expand the program in 2023, as Crestron has arranged expedited onboarding for authorized Crestron dealers with AVA.
As always, that continuous feedback loop from dealers is what makes these updates shine. "The invitation is always out there: Dealers are welcome to be part of our beta program," says Oster. If you're interested, a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org gets the process started.