Philips Hue’s new dynamic lighting scenes are missing two key features

Dynamic scenes for color Hue lights are here, but you can’t change the speed, nor can you program your own.

philips hue iris
Ben Patterson/IDG

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After a long wait, Signify-owned Philips Hue has finally rolled out dynamic scenes that allow its smart lights to cycle between various colors. But a pair of fairly obvious features are—for now, anyway—missing in action.

The new dynamic scenes arrived last week in version 4.4 of the Philips Hue app, and they work with all color-compatible Hue lights.

To access the scenes, tap on a room or a zone that contains color Hue lights, tap the Hue Scene Gallery tile, then pick any scene below the initial Defaults section and tap the Add to My Scenes button.

Now, back in the room view, tap the tile of the new scene, and your Hue lights will change to the static version of the scene. To switch to the dynamic version, tap the Play icon on the scene. You’ll know it’s working when you see the “Dynamics” bug on the tiles of your Hue color lights. (You can apply dynamic scenes to rooms with a mixture of color and white-only Hue lights, but only the color-capable lights will begin changing colors.)

philips hue dynamic scenes Ben Patterson/IDG

You can switch a Hue light scene to dynamic mode by pressing the Play button (the Stop button is pictured). Note the “Dynamics” tag in the tile for the Iris light.

Your first reaction to seeing a Hue dynamic scene in action will likely be: “So...is it working?” That’s because the transitions between colors is—for now, at least—quite slow and stately.

Hue concedes as much in the release notes for the updated Hue app, noting that for this “initial” release, the dynamic effects will be “subtle,” and that “you may not notice” the lights changing colors.

Speaking to Hueblog.com, Hue head of technology George Yianni said (translated from German) that “we have deliberately not chosen the standard so that it is like a disco.”

Indeed, even the “Party Vibes” selection of dynamic scenes, such as Ibiza, Osaka, Soho, and Tokyo, roll by so slowly that you may not immediately notice the changing colors.

philips hue scene gallery Ben Patterson/IDG

Hue’s new dynamic scenes are slow and subtle, even for scenes in the “Party Vibes” section.

That said, Hue users will be able to change the speed of dynamic scenes in a “future release,” according to the Hue release notes, although it’s not clear when that update will arrive. I’ve reached out to Hue for more details.

The option to tweak the speed of Hue dynamic color scenes leads into another missing feature: the ability to create your own dynamic scenes.

When Hue first announced dynamic color scenes earlier this summer, I assumed that we’d be able to edit dynamic scenes and create new ones. But to my surprise, you can’t, or at least not with version 4.4 of the Hue app. For now, all you can do is select pre-made dynamic scenes from the Hue scene gallery.

The good news is that—similar to changing the speed of dynamic scenes—a “future” update will allow users to create new dynamic scenes, or turn an existing static scene into a dynamic one.

Again, though, it’s not clear when the dynamic scene editor will arrive. I’ve asked Hue about the ability to create dynamic scenes and I’ll update this story when I hear back.

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