Lowe's admits its second-generation Iris by Lowe's connected-home system hasn't lived up to expectations

The big-box retailer promises to address the numerous shortcomings its customers are complaining about.

Iris Hub

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When Lowe’s debuted its second-generation Iris by Lowe’s connected-home platform in November 2015, it promised a new system that focused more on home management and maintenance rather than merely home automation. Four months later, users who've made the upgrade say they’re still waiting for the second-generation system to simply achieve feature parity with its predecessor, much less deliver on those new promises.

That’s not the only problem. First-generation users were invited to sign up to receive a second-generation hub at no cost shortly after launch. According to several posts on Iris user forums, some users who signed up right after that announcement are still waiting for their hubs.A shortage of sensors and other accessories has compounded Iris users’ frustration; many stores either had little or no stock until recently.

Lowe’s says it’s listening

Lowe’s recently admitted in an unsigned blog post that its second-generation Iris system needs work, and vowed to do a better job of migrating old users to the new platform.

“We understand that there are features that you would like to have access to within Iris and we want you to know we are working to make them available to you,” the Iris team writes. “If you haven’t yet experienced the Next Generation of Iris because you have not yet received your free hub, we understand the wait has been longer than anyone would have liked.”

Indeed it has been a long wait: Lowe’s initially promised replacement hubs would make it to first-generation users within one to two months. Since then, it changed the time frame for delivery and full migration several times, and it now says the process should be complete by the end of April.

Lowe’s also highlighted 23 features that it plans to add to Iris 2.0 in the coming weeks and months. This sounds impressive, but much of it is about delivering feature parity with the original system, rather than delivering compelling new functionality.

More flexibility in how schedules, rules, and services are handled is en route, something Lowe’s’ move from a web- to mobile-based management system disrupted. Another annoying quirk soon to be gone is Iris 2.0’s insistence on allowing app access to only one user, and providing only system access codes and notifications to subsequent authorized users.

Will it be enough?

There are a few new features of note, though.Lowe’s is finally making good on its maintenance promises with filter replacement reminders and new HVAC tie-ins. There are also capabilities that will tie services to outdoor weather conditions, and the ability to control more than one Iris system from the app (which would be useful for a vacation home or Airbnb property)..

What remains to be seen is whether that will be good enough for customers who have soured on the platform.

“Can anyone explain to any of us who is responsible for signing off on the V2 release?” one frustrated user posted to an online forum earlier this week. “You would think that no one in their right mind would let an unfinished product out for sale knowing it wasn’t ready, wasn’t complete, and wasn’t stable enough to be used by the general public.”

The story behind the story: It’s good to know that Lowe’s plans to make an effort to fix Iris. But after living with the second-generation Iris system for several months, my opinion of it has evolved and I’ve updated my initial review, reducing the bottom-line score from 3.5 stars to 2.5 stars. I too am frustrated with what seems as a glacial pace in at least getting feature parity with the first generation system after months of use. I will update that score again if and when Lowe’s delivers on its promises.

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