Roomie Remote Pushes out Major 2.0 Update: New Features, Fixes, and Controversy

Roomie Remote 2.0 is updated for iOS7 with new features (some controversial) and a completely overhauled user interface.
Roomie Remote is an iOS home automation and universal remote control app that we’ve previously reviewed.  Now the folks at Roomie have come out with a major update to the app: Version 2.0.

There are lots of changes to Roomie Remote in the 2.0 update.  The new release is iOS 7 compatible and sports iOS 7-styled graphics.  It features several new graphical and user interface (UI) enhancements.  First off, gone is the linear menu style.  In its place is a much better button-style UI where you can select rooms and activities.

The new menu layout in large button format is a welcome addition.

New device support in the 2.0 release includes Kaleidescape movie servers, Indigo, Belkin WeMo switches; and Sony TV models with IP support.

Additional features added in the 2.0 release include the ability to search the guide for TV shows or movies; Sonos music search (including Pandora), so that you can search Sonos by artist, composer, genre, or album; XMBC media guide for full access to movies, TV shows, playlists, etc.

A number of subtle enhancements such as landscape orientation support on the iPhone, the ability to copy activities, and dynamically resizing of activities on the iPad are all part of this release.

Completely new is the option to control your activity from  a gesture-control screen.  The nintendo-style screen is odd at first but you get used to it quickly.   It’s only an option and I think many will stick to the traditional remote interface.

Roomie’s new gesture-based remote control interface takes some getting used to, but it’s pretty slick once you get the hang of it.

There’s a new overview screen where you can switch between modes and jump to different screens.

Perhaps most controversial of all is the complete switch in Roomie’s business model.  Instead of buying add-ons, like IR control, you now subscribe to them on an annual basis.  Users who previously purchased several add-on packs were enraged with the change in business model.  This was exacerbated by the fact that for some, when they upgraded to Roomie 2.0, they were switched to an expired subscription service, which rendered their Roomie Remote basically unusable.  
Roomie’s new subscription-based model will cost you $16.99/year if you want to control any IR products in your home.
Much to their credit, Roomie Remote has indicated in their support forums that those who previously purchased add-on packs are grandfathered in.  They will not have their purchases converted to the subscription model.  Unfortunately, Roomie admitted to a bug in the initial 2.0 release and those who had their purchases converted to subscription or were wrongly listed as having expired.  This glitch will evidently be fixed in a pending release.
For those who did not purchase the add-ons through the previous version, the subscription service is pretty reasonable.  Being the poor audiophile, I’d prefer to see it at a more nominal $4.99 – $9.99/year price point.  People aren’t used to paying for remote control functionality in an ongoing fashion so it will be interesting to see how the larger Roomie Community responds to this.
The controversy with the subscription service aside, the Roomie Remote 2.0 update looks like a solid product that will continue to keep this universal remote and home automation app ahead of the curve.

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