August 2, 2021

Android 12 may make setting up smart home gadgets less obnoxious

Setting up smart home hardware can be intensely frustrating. Sure, there are benefits and conveniences to having a bunch of connected devices in your home, but a surprising number of things can go wrong even just getting a light bulb or hub to reliably connect to Wi-Fi. On top of that, the setup process can mess with your phone’s data connection, which makes troubleshooting even more of A Thing. But a change in Android 12 will help fix some of that, allowing you to maintain a simultaneous Wi-Fi connection to a peer device as well as your home access point.

We all know the drill that most smart home gadgets impose: Fire up yet another third-party app, tap through a not-linear-enough setup process, and in the middle manually connect to some speaker or light bulb’s Wi-Fi access point with a unique string of letters and numbers, hoping that nothing will go wrong. (Narrator: It will.) And when the inevitable happens, you’ll need to remember to disconnect from that internet-less gadget before Googling up a solution to your woes.

Sometimes your phone is smart enough to swap back over to mobile data while you’re connected, but it’s one of those wildly nondeterministic smart home things, and the experience can and will vary.

Thankfully, Android 12 is set to include a change to support “concurrent peer-to-peer and internet connections.” That’s a complicated way of saying that your phone will be able to connect to both your home’s Wi-Fi access point and a smart home gadget for its setup process. That is, so long as developers update to take advantage of the new APIs and your device supports it, though Google’s documentation isn’t clear about what sort of hardware requirements are imposed for the new feature.

Setting up smart home hardware will probably always be a difficult and slightly obnoxious process, but seemingly minor tweaks like this will make it a little less frustrating when things go wrong.

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