marzo 1, 2024

El abridor de puerta de garaje inteligente Chamberlain myQ bloquea Homebridge y más para mostrar anuncios


The Chamberlain myQ smart garage door opener is now blocking access by Homebridge, Home Assistant, and other third-party apps. It follows the company last year discontinuing the myQ Home Bridge Hub, which made the door opener HomeKit compatible.

The motivation for the move appears to be to force people to use Chamberlain’s own app, so that they will be exposed to the ads run in it …

Background

Chamberlain offers a range of garage door openers, none of which are HomeKit compatible.

However, you used to be able to buy a separate bridge unit – the myQ Home Bridge Hub with HomeKit – for the more modern openers, which turned them into HomeKit devices. They could then be controlled in the Apple Home app, and with Siri.

Chamberlain last year discontinued that product, claiming that the decision was due to low sales volumes.

That still left HomeKit fans with other options, however. Third-party apps like Homebridge and Home Assistant effectively added HomeKit support to the garage door openers, using a Chamberlain API.

Chamberlain now blocking access to the API

The company recently issued a statement describing this usage of the API as “unauthorised,” and said those apps would now be blocked from using it.

Chamberlain Group recently made the decision to prevent unauthorized usage of our myQ ecosystem through third-party apps. 

This decision was made so that we can continue to provide the best possible experience for our 10 million+ users, as well as our authorized partners who put their trust in us. We understand that this impacts a small percentage of users, but ultimately this will improve the performance and reliability of myQ, benefiting all of our users.

No explanation was offered – beyond the implied “our official partners pay us good money for access, and are now wondering why they do so.”

But Arstechnica has identified another likely motivation. The company’s official app displays ads, and anyone using a third-party app won’t see them.

Our immediate question is why would any garage opener company care about customers using its garage door opener. You sell garage door openers—isn’t usage the goal? A quick perusal through the app store reviews reveals what’s going on. The iOS app is sitting pretty at 4.8 stars, but the Android app has suffered a wave of one-star reviews starting in October.

“Sadly, this app now displays advertisement at the very top and I cannot find a way to disable it,” writes one Play Store reviewer (Google doesn’t provide links to reviews). “This is very disturbing and on top of it, it moves my garage opening button out of the visible part of the screen. So to use it I now have to first look at the ads, then scroll down and hope to find my button.”

Another user writes, “I don’t want ads in an app that I have already paid for the companion product.” Other one-star reviews mention things like, “I clicked door open/close event and it popped up the video storage subscription dialog to ask me to subscribe,” and, “Most of the app is dedicated to trying to upsell you on services and devices you don’t need.”

There is a workaround, however.

For users stuck with a Chamberlain garage door opener, Home Assistant recommends a little circuit board called a “ratgdo,” which is specifically meant to hack into Chamberlain/LiftMaster garage door openers. This connects the garage door button wires to your Wi-Fi—something Chamberlain presumably can’t break on purpose—and freely communicates with everything. It can even “report back the actual status of the door (closed, opening, open, closing)” somehow.

9to5Mac’s Take

This debacle is the latest cautionary tale about an increasingly common problem with modern technology: We don’t ever fully own it.

Some products rely on access to servers run by the manufacturer. The maker can at any point decide to start charging for that access, to switch them off – or the servers may be lost when a company goes bust.

Companion apps can also cease to work when a company goes under, leaving hardware owners with limited or completely unusable devices.

If you buy a product because of functionality provided by a third-party app via an API, access to that API can be withdrawn at any time, or a company may start charging for it.

Companies can even issue over-the-air firmware updates which remove features – perhaps because they want to force people to buy a subscription, or upgrade to a later model.

For smart home devices, the best thing we can do as consumers is buy products which support either HomeKit or Matter – and punish companies that pull stunts like this by never buying anything from them ever again, and advising our friends to do the same.

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