Yonomi: Promising approach, but room for improvement.

Yonomi (pronounced you-know-me) just recently crossed my way when I read about it at vowe’s site.  A one-stop solution to let all your smart home devices communicate and interact, soley based on a Cloud service without the need for an additional controller box or hardware. Quite an ambitious undertaking, so I gave it a shot.

Setting up Yonomi.

The setup process is relatively simple and straight forward. First I downloaded the free Yonomi app from the App Store (available for iOS and Android, see links at the end of article). After starting the app and setting up a Yonomi account it searched for all available and supported smart devices in my WLAN (5 GHz) and found automatically my Sonos system, the Philips hue Lights, the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, but only one of my two WeMo switches. The automatic detection for the other WeMo switched failed somehow and couldn’t be added manually as well. A possible reason might be that my iPhone is connected to the 802.11 ac 5 GHz WLAN and the WeMo’s support only the 2.4 GHz WLAN. So I had to switch the iPhone to the 2.4 GHz band on my dual-band router to make the second WeMo switch visible for the Yonomi app. Make sure that you’re smart phone is connected to the 2.4 GHz band (which is used by nearly all smart deviced) while setting up Yonomi or adding new devices manually to avoid irritations. For the Hue Lights and the Withings scale you have to grant access for the Yonomi app like for any other app that wants to access these services, too.

Currently, about 60 devices are supported, like Nest, WeMo, UP, Withings, Philips Hue, Sonos or Logitech, just to name the major ones. So there is quite a large springboard to jump off when connecting your smart devices with each other.


Defining Yonomi routines.

After the setup you get a couple of preset “routines” on the start screen, e.g. for switching all your Hue light on/off, switching all devices off or to start the Sonos system with your last used stream. A routine is a rule set, that describes which device triggers what action on what event. The triggers can be time-, event- or location-related, similar to IFTTT. A very cool feature is a speech engine that can be triggered to announce the current whether conditions in your location or a customized message over the Sonos speakers.
Defining routines is a very simple task. You simply add a device to a routine and define a trigger or action. That’s it.

My Yonomi test routines.

For testing purposes I took a modified preset routine (Routine 1) and setup a new routine (Routine 2, see below), a fairly easy one and a more complex. Additionally, I added Routine 2 as a favourite to the app’s start screen for quick access.

  1. Routine 1: Everything off when leaving the house.
    When I leave the house
    – switch off all my Hue lights
    -switch off my Sonos system.
  2. Routine 2: Wake me up!
    At 5:50 AM (my usual wake up time)
    – switch on one of my Hue lights in the living room with a random colour,
    – greet me with “Good morning, Fozi!“,
    – announce the current weather conditions for Munich,
    – play the Bar & Lounge Radio stream from Amazon Prime Music over my Sonos system in the living room,
    – but only on week days.

(The kids are a little bit sick these days, so they sleep with my wife in our room and I got comfortable on our sofa :-)

Results for Routine 1.

While this routine appears quite simple, it didn’t work to the full extension. While the lights were switched off correctly, the Sonos system kept playing. The reason is quite simple:
When I leave the house and lose the WiFi-connection before I cross the default geo fence in the app, the Sonos system cannot be triggered to switch off because there is no WiFi available anymore. Unfortunatelly, a geo fence radius cannot be defined in the app and probably a radius of 10m-20m would be too small to let Yonomi detect your leave and send a pause message to Sonos in time.
I think you can’t make Yonomi accountable for this issue, as it is primarily related to the Sonos design. Furthermore, when I’d leave the house and Sonos would stop playing while my wife is still enjoying music at home, she’d not be very happy. You know, happy wife, happy life! But maybe Yonomi finds an elegant way to handle this, though.

Results for Routine 2.

The routine definition with the Sonos outputs has been a bit tricky wit my Sonos setup. While Yonomi detected all my Sonos speakers separately, it does not detect how they are grouped together. The Sonos setup in our living room consists of a PLAYBAR, a SUB and two PLAY:1 speakers grouped to a 5.1 system together. Addressing one of the PLAY:1’s did not work. Finally, I found out that I have to address the PLAYBAR for the speech announcments and music output.

As mentioned before, I currently sleep in our living room and thus I have setup an alarm on my iPhone for 5:50 AM, which goes off reliably. But Yonomi failed to do anything: No lights, no announcements, no music. Soley a message in the iPhones message center telling me “Running Routine “Wake up!“. Well, not really.

After intensive testing I found out the cause:
The Yonomi app simply has to stay opened in the background. When it is closed, the routine won’t run although you receive the message that it is running. Usually, I don’t close apps on my iPhone, but sometimes it happens. If you rely on a wake up routine, then you might be embarrassed. I’d guess that a routine was fired correctly in earlier versions, even when the app was fully closed. Probably a regression bug slipped in. If not, then the team has to do some homework to enable this.

Further I discovered, that the announcement outputs are randomly chopped off or come in the wrong order when the routine is fired, i.e. sometimes the weather is announced before i get my morning greetings in Routine 2.

Some personal remarks on the app.

The current UI design of the app is neither very fancy nor sexy (see e.g. the too large favourites buttons), but functional. As we speak of the current and early v1.2.2, the beautifying measures can be postponed to later releases, but have to be considered as important. This is no dealbreaker, just think of  e.g. the gen 1 Philips Hue app and how long it took them to come up with a decent looking gen 2 design.
Some usability improvements, like duplicating routines for easier customization would be beneficial and could be provided short-term.

My conclusion.

The concept and approach of Yonomi are definitly heading into the right direction and are showing rather impressively that a cloud based hub for connecting all those various- and more or less- smart devices around the house is feasable. Despite the mixed results from my tests, Yonomi has drawn my very attention and I’m confident that the this small startup will eliminate the current drawbacks and improve the reliability of the service and the app step by step.

Here’s my preliminary priority wish list for the next releases:
– fix bugs for more stability and reliability
– higher reliability in device detection
– implementation of nested and concatenated routines
– support of more languages for the speech engine
– support of Netatmo Weather Station
– detection of Sonos groups.


[appbox appstore 991840741]

[appbox googleplay com.yonomi]


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