Smart-bulb maker LIFX drops support for Windows 10 but hints at a web app version for the future

Call it stiff competition or just a small market, but Philips Hue Lights competitor LIFX is dropping support for its official app for Windows 10.

One of the few official smart home apps for the OS, which recently made our list of top apps for your home, LIFX is stopping development for Windows 10 for familiar reasons. As it turns out, most users operate their smart home from a smartphone, and it is there Android, and iOS have a leg up even over Windows 10 for PC.

In a reported email sent to users about future support for Windows 10 LIFX's director of marketing allegedly noted:

The windows app has not been updated in a while. There are no plans to update it in the near future. The overall majority of our customers, greater than 99%, have access to or use Android or iOS.We are working on a webapp that could function cross platforms, but it is not slated until early 2018.We're happy to refund your purchase.Best, Jon Director of Marketing

The LIFX app for Windows 10 (opens in new tab) is available on PC, mobile, HoloLens, and Hub.

The web app alternative is an attractive proposition. Recently, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and Hosted Web Apps have been getting a lot of attention in tech media due to their low cost to develop. Some of the language used by LIFX suggest that it may suspend development of all its mobile apps for the smart home with PWA as the solution.

Google is one of the biggest proponents of PWAs, but Microsoft through its Edge browser is also a big supporter as the era of apps begins to wind down.

Based on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript PWAs and its related hybrid apps may be the future of all mobile and PC applications for companies that simply do not want to support – or cannot afford – multiple apps across various platforms.

With Windows 10 PWAs can integrate into the OS through Live Tile support and the Action Center making them feel native-ish. Indeed, the new LinkedIn app and a few other apps on the Store are now PWA style.

Learning more and express support

For those with LIFX, you can jump into the sub-reddit where the discussion is taking place and express support. The web app solution is not slated until "early 2018", but in a follow-up comment LIFX's director of marketing noted, "If the community has a renewed interest and would like to voice your opinion I can work on getting it potentially moved up in the roadmap."

Competition with smart home and smart light technologies is very stiff these days with Philips Hue taking most of the market. Due to cost and initial investment while popular smart lights are still a niche and growing segment of the smart home market. How it all shakes out for standards and costs remains to be seen, but companies involved need to invest wisely as do customers.

Microsoft is slowly creeping into the smart home market with Cortana skills (opens in new tab) and its eventual Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker, but Redmond lags compared to Google and Apple in this area. How they make up that market remains to be seen. While there are plans and slow development of Windows 10 Home Hub (Invoke is part of that initiative), there is no precise ETA for its big push just yet.

Thankis, Brendon M., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • So exactly how many users do these developers want to see before they support this OS? Is it in the billions?
  • I'm not sure, but the cost of a single dev is usually around $50k for an app - and that's probably low balling. Add two devs and that goes up, so the cost is not insignificant when you're going up against Philips Hue and other major companies. Of course, even Philips Hue, who could afford a Windows 10 app or Cortana support (at the very least!) do not invest in it. This is where the "we need smartphones for UWP to succeed" argument has legs, imo. On the other hand, there is little doubt that companies would rather invest in something like PWA instead of dedicated native apps. I don't think our audience, at least, appreciates how big PWA may become in the next few years and it's not just Microsoft, but Google, who are promoting it.
  • $50k! That's worth 25 Surface Books lol!
  • Depending on the language, tools and experience can go up to 150k for a contractor.
  • PWA??? What have I missed? Long time reader of the Site but never come across the term
  • I figured this will happen when they didn't update the app for the new lightstripes. I hope the dev behind Lifx dynamic keeps updating there app. I love the LIFX bulbs this is sad, but hopefully they keep the app in the store.
  • That web app of theirs will cost them much more than 1 or 2 developers per year, and if what they say is true then 99% user there users won't be using it because IOS and Android. I call BS.
  • Well, they are not even investing in a proper Android App. It's shocking how bad and slow it is compared the Huetro App we have on Windows10(m).
  • I definitely agree things are going this way. As a developer it's frustrating to see enthusiast users who brand all web apps as useless. We're wasting a lot of time and human resources heavily maintaining multiple versions of apps when we could just be building and maintaining those hooks into the OS for many apps. Not all fit this model, but apps like LinkedIn fit it perfectly
  • No sane company is going to put their money into a platform that has no support, even from the manufacturer of said OS.
  • Not just talking about mobile here. Win 10 and the store have a lot of support. I guess I'm not a kid, so I actually have a PC and my Insteon (store) app gets tons of use. Way more than my mobile versions of the same app. Even when I do use the mobile apps, by virtue of the web, the setup I did, easily and conveniently, on the PC is reflected on those devices. I didn't have to do setup on a 5" screen with my fingers. Maybe LIFX doesn't support enough complexity or capability to make setup on anything but a mobile app neccessary or more convenient. Glad I avoided them.
  • Trillions. All forced by government mandate to purchase their services. No, wait: that's the healthcare industry. My bad. :P
  • Nobody "slowly creeps" into a market like Microsoft.
  • "Era of apps winding down". Can somebody catch me up when this started? Thanks.
  • Read any major tech outlet talking about the future of apps, adoption, usage, and where the market is heading. There is an upper limit on app adoption especially when most users on iOS and Android use on a regular basis less than 10 apps and are downloading zero new apps per month. This stuff is written everywhere if you're following the market. It's not even news.
    "U.S. app downloads are down by 20%, year on year. This is not because there is a decrease in mobile usage, but because people are getting app fatigue. We are no longer downloading apps nor exploring the app stores for novelty. Mobile users are instead focusing on apps that are essential and have a core function."
    Do you really think we are headed to a future where Apple boasts have 10 million apps in the store? That is no longer "smart" it's customer confusion and if you are at the bottom of that 10 million apps with your app you simply cannot profit from it. When was the last time you saw Google and Apple get into a pissing match about Store size? It's irrelevant now. What's the biggest apps right now? It's still Snapchat. There is no "must have app" that is new for 2017. There's also a reason why Apple is trying to spurn interest in apps again with its silly "Planet of the apps" show. This genre is winding down and everyone sees AI and PWA as the future. This audience and common users, as always, are behind the curve because it's not their job to anticipate change.
  • Is it the reason why MS is not so aggresively pushing UWP, it obviously cant be so stupid otherwise.
  • Well, that's the interesting part as UWP and PWA overlap. A PWA is a more sophisticated web wrapper, but with UWP integration and APIs, it gets hooks into the OS for notifications and live tiles, things that users do care about.
  • Yeah, it's "Apps are dead. Long live apps!"
  • Since people started becoming smart and thought it was not very smart that they had to install something for every service they want to use. Apps is the worst thing that has happened and smart web services should have been the priority since day one. Old smartphones (symbian/windows mobile) was smarter in this regard as they didn't require apps to do work. They were smart.
  • Beg to differ,  symbian and windows mobile FAILED because there were no apps.  
  • Well symbian had tons of applications, and lack of apps was not issue with symbian, it was slow adaptability to touch based interfaces that caused its demise.
  • Well, being second or worse to Phillips in their field it seems they thought it was a good strategy to turn their back to millions of Windows 10 users. I think that not having support for their devices will certainly drive away potential sales.
  • Those Windows 10 users have iPhones and Androids that are more accessible than their desktops. No reason to waste money on a duplicate app that not many people are going to use anyways.
  • Even though Philips offer no uwp app for Hue, Huetro is a great alternative!
  • Will PWA run across all devices? Is it possible in future?
  • Yes. It is web services.
  • If you have a browser that supports it, yes. I believe Microsoft is working on adding PWA support for Edge in the Fall Creators Update. The idea is that you can simply browse to such an app, as you would browse to a website. And when you like it, you simply select an option from your browser that adds that "app" to the homescreen from your phone. The next time you open that app from the icon on your startscreen, it opens as if it were a normal app, so without the browser UI around it. Even though PWA are web based, they will come with advanced capabilities such as offline support and background tasks making them very capable. Twitter Lite is an example of an existing PWA:
  • Yup, good points/explanation/example.
  • So how would food delivery apps, banking apps and apps like uber/ola work? I think such apps with very localized and specific services have become more important as compared to 15 chat apps and a million photo editing and sharing apps etc.
    Let's just say that MS is indeed working on a Surface Mobile kinda would PWA ensure that consumers would be able to use these services on that device even if no native windows app is created?
    Pardon my ignorance, but i would really like to get some clarity on this.
  • MS users are profesionals, MS users dont need stupid apps for normal people. I guess this sound like strategy made by MS.
  • I was just about to buy a bunch of LIFX bulbs because of its Windows 10 support. Now going to get Philips ones and use Huetro (which is even linked from Philips site) Using as well, hopefully the keep support.
  • Huetro is pretty great.
  • I don't use LIFX (or any smart lighting, for that matter).  I don't like PWAs.  I like dedicated apps.  They are easy to access and use.  Web pages, no matter how well designed, are not predictable and have annoying interface issues.  I don't like this trend of moving from Apps to PWA.  Funny how this never (or at least extremely rarely) happens to Android or Apple.
  • This is how Microsoft's colossal failure in phones begins to impact the rest of the Windows ecosystem.
  • :)))))) another web wrapper coming up for this pathetic platform :))). Rejoice fanboys. Have a drink with Microshit and Nutella to celebrate another app leaving :))
  • I don't see the appeal of having your PC control your lighting, your phone seems like a much smarter fit for that task.