Saturday, March 24

Go Home Siri, Germans Don’t Boil Their Rooms

Our house is partially automated. We started with lights* and a couple of power outlets**, then recently began to adda few thermostats*** into the mix. That’s the extent of it. No locks, no blinds. Our automation system of choice is Apple’s HomeKit. And it’s been fun so far. And a lot more useful than I thought. “Set the living room to cozy” brings up a pre-programmed scene with dimmed lights, while “set the hall lights to brightest” is perfect if you’re looking for your keys.

Of course you can also give the lights percentages from 1 to 100. “Set the living room to 100” sets the brightness of all living room lights to their maximum. At least it used to, until we added the thermostats.

Now the same command “set the living room to 100” results in the thermostats getting cranked up all the way. Which, in our case, ends up being 86°F.

Let me take a step back. I live in Germany. We don’t do Fahrenheit. We use the (of course way more logical) Celsius scale. And my iPhone, which controls our HomeKit setup, is set to use degrees Celsius as the temperature unit.

But for whatever reason, Siri seems a bit confused. Whenever I say “set the living room to 100”, what used to be a perfect command to set the brightness, is now being misinterpreted to mean temperature. Which makes no. Sense. What. So. Ever. Especially in a country that is on the °C scale. Water boils at 100°C. But even in a °F country, you’d never set your room to 100°F.

I can only assume that Siri thinks I’m referring to Fahrenheit and tries to set the thermostats accordingly. Which it can’t because room temperatures with our thermostats are limited to 30°C (possibly that’s even a HomeKit limit), which is equivalent to the 86°F from above.

Here’s your solution, Apple: room temperatures range from 17 to 25 degrees Celsius, or about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 100 as a temperature for a room is nonsensical in any of the two scales. First, obey the system’s temperature scale setting. Second, apply a bit of logic and define a range within which temperatures make sense.

Of course, this can all be avoided by adding “lights” or “temperature” to your commands. “Set the living room lights to 100” will yield the expected result. But then, why on earth, Apple, did you allow me to train myself to omit the word “lights” when we didn’t have the thermostats yet?!

* Philips Hue
** Elgato Eve Energy
*** Elgato Eve Thermo (2017 model)