Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ambiance, Atmosphere; Aura

Merriam-Webster defines an aura as a distinctive atmosphere surrounding a given source; a subtle sensory stimulus or a luminous radiation.
Often times when I find something I like, I tend to be very loyal to it. But like everyone, sometimes I get bored with the familiar and look to find something new. With Hue, I have found many great apps, and so I forget that there are so many more to try.

About a year ago, while shopping for apps to try, I came across Aura, from SpaceNation, Inc. CA. At first glance it looked really cool. It functions similarly to my favorite app Ambee in that there are several scenes to choose from in a simple layout.


What I like:

The first thing I noticed was the simple layout. The illustrations depicting the scenes are different than what you see in other apps. They look like original artist compositions as opposed to photographs

Most of the scenes are really saturated as opposed to more muted, blended colors, and I like the effects. Every dynamic scene app will have subtle variations on how the animations transitions. Aura has a few scenes with very deliberate transitions for maximum pop. For example, the fire scene starts with a flash which I believe is supposed to simulate the strike of a match.

What I don't like:

The app has 12 dynamic scenes, and costs $5.99. In the time I've had this app, no new scenes have been added.

There is no designation for rooms or zones. This means you have to select all the bulbs you want to use. This also means you cannot run more than one scene at a time. This is a huge drawback for me because I like to run different scenes in different rooms simultaneously. I live in a small apartment, and I find that running different scenes in different areas creates a larger sense of space.

The Lights section duplicates my lights. In the settings there is a function that is supposed to correct this, but it was ineffective. There is also a HomeKit section which does nothing as this app cannot be added to HomeKit, which begs the question of why even put it in there?

Lastly, I noticed that switching from one scene to another takes approximately 15 seconds unless you stop the prior scene first. Smooth transitions are paramount to quality in an app. 

Overall, I like some of the scenes and the effects, but I feel this is more of an example of lazy design, and for six bucks it's pretty basic. It has a four star rating on the App Store, but I would only give it two stars. Sorry SpaceNation, better luck next time.

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