In this post, I want to share with you my latest attempts at controlling Philips Hue from my Windows PC. This is a bit of a challenge, as there's no official native app available from Philips. Instead, I've had to find alternative ways to do this, and today I want to share my latest attempt.
As you might remember from my previous post on this topic -Philips Hue PC Control- the lack of an official native Philips Hue app for the PC, means you have to look for an alternative. With no decent website for doing this, one option is to explore the use of an unofficial app.
In that prior post, I tried 'Huetro' from the Windows 10 app store. This worked OK, but there were some drawbacks and compromises, along with a few 'quirks' to using this app. In fairness the app has since been updated, so some of these drawbacks may have been addressed. Nevertheless, more recently I've been looking at another option - using the official Android Philips Hue app, on Windows.
Now, before some of you click away to another site, thinking this is going to be a really hard thing to do - it actually really isn't! That's because there are plenty of 'emulators' out there that let you run Android on Windows. One of the more popular choices is a software package called 'Bluestacks'. It's super easy to install and use - basically, anyone can do it.
To get started, simply go to the Bluestacks website (www.bluestacks.com) and click the button to download Bluestacks 3. There's a handy video on their website that shows you the process, but as mentioned, it's very simple to install and use.
Once it's installed, launch it, and the software will load up. There's a first-run experience that basically involves you signing in with your Google account, just as you would on an Android smartphone or tablet. Once done, you'll be presented with an app-store like home page.
You can then use the search box to search for the app you want. So, in this case, you can search for Philips Hue, and up will pop the Google Play store, with the search results. Click the button to install, and the app will download and install - again, just like on your phone.
Then, you can launch the app, discover your Hue Bridge - and you're good to go! It's that easy.
There are some advantages to this approach. First, unlike the Huetro app, you're not restricted to Windows 10. Bluestacks will work on Windows versions all the way back to Windows XP SP3 (although if you're still running XP - please upgrade!).
There are some issues to be aware of. What you're effectively doing here is running Android, on top of Windows. If your PC is old or slow, performance might be poor, possibly prohibitively so.
Also, loading Bluestacks takes a few moments. Remember, you're loading up Android in the background. So, if you want to quickly and spontaneously jump into the Philips Hue app, you'll experience a delay. One solution is to just leave Bluestacks minimised ready for you to use, however that will again require your PC be up to the task, it could make other programs run more slowly.
So, I'll add a qualifier to my earlier comment that "anyone can do it" - it's not necessarily for everyone. However, anyone can try it, and see if it works for you. If you try this approach, let me know in the comments how you get on! This won't be my last attempt at Philips Hue PC control!