Lightbow 2.4- Feature Guides, Now Playing bar, and more

Users have been clamoring for Feature Guides for a while now, and we're pleased to announce in-app help for most Lightbow features and workflows! When you go to the Settings tab, you'll see new sets of actions you can take for when everything's going perfectly with Lightbow, when you're confused or have a question, or when something's broken and you need help. Tap the emoji that matches your feelings about Lightbow to get started! Or, if there's anything about Lightbow that you feel isn't clear, let us know which Feature Guides we should work on next.

Here Comes HALLOWEEN

In the mood for something spooky cool?

Whether you're preparing for your big annual Halloween party, or just looking to scare the children trick-of-treating at your door this month, check out Lightbow's latest collection of Halloween-themed animated presets! All collections have a free preview period now, so I'll let the colors speak for themselves.

Experience out-of-this-world lighting ambience with S P A C E

New York City lighting designer (and talented musical theatre writer as well!) Alana Jacoby set out to capture some of the wonders of astronomy from the Earth to the great beyond. Lightbow is proud to offer her collection of ten animated presets, from the mysterious dark throbbing of "antimatter" to the brilliant pulses of a "solar flare".

S P A C E  is available as an in-app purchase to help fund the continuing development of Lightbow. You can find it, along with the other collections for sale, at the bottom of your Presets list inside the app. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you're a lighting designer and might be interested in a partnership!

Lightbow 1.9 - Collections for Sale, Background Support

While Lightbow gives you unprecedented control over color loops and light assignments, crafting a preset for just the right mood can take time and patience. Starting today, at the bottom of your preset list, you will see a growing list of special collections for sale. From simple color schemes to complex animations, our professional New York City lighting designers will take you on a journey unlike any other app. Stay tuned!

Users have spoken loud and clear! Lightbow now continues to animate your lights when the app enters the background, or you put your iPhone / iPad to sleep. This was an easy engineering problem, but unfortunately it took longer to get through App Review than any of the over 20 previous releases of Lightbow. Thanks to everyone for their patience, and if you withheld any stars on the App Store for this, now would be a great time to check out Lightbow 1.9 to see if I have earned them back. If not, let me know! 

If you go to the Settings tab, you can set the volume of a soothing ambient sound loop that plays whenever your lights are animating. If you want to enjoy your light shows in silence, feel free to set the volume down to zero. The first sound available was recorded at night in Kauai, Hawaii, and there will be more to come in future versions of Lightbow. Any suggestions?

With users in over 65 countries, Lightbow's international audience continues to grow. Now localized in 14 languages, Lightbow 1.9 now contains native translations for Greek and Korean. 

Το Lightbow είναι τώρα διαθέσιμο στα Ελληνικά!  이제 Lightbow 한국의로도 사용하실 있습니다.

Lightbow 1.8 - Animations, hue tap Support

Animate your lights with color loops! With unprecedented control over colors, durations, and fades for each step, you can create millions of combinations of cool effects, all within the familiar preset interface. (Philips and LIFX only) Combine animations with randomization and watch your lights come to life in unexpected ways!

Start with some of the Bundled Presets as inspiration or create your own animations from scratch. To begin, just go to the preset editor, select any assignment circle, change the number of animation steps, and pick some fun colors. The best way to learn how to use Lightbow is to play around!

While Philips and LIFX hardware don't guarantee latency or synchronization of events, you can still achieve some wonderful effects that previously were only possible with commercial lighting units.


Each circle represents the assignment of a color, animation, or on/off command to some set of lights. Presets can have one or many assignment circles. If you select an assignment circle in the preset editor, you can modify individual animation step colors and transitions.

In this screen, for example, by selecting the pink arrow in the middle, you can edit how long this assignment's lights will stay pink in the animation before going to orange, and whether it's a fade or a jump-cut. The "Overall Duration" slider is a convenient way to proportionately change the duration of all steps at once, here making the entire cycle total three seconds. If you need longer (or more precise) durations, just tap on the blue text displaying "3 secs" and you will get a custom popover.


If you own a Philips hue tap, the trigger editor will now let you assign a preset to each button. (Note: Lightbow will load the colors from that preset onto your bridge, but the Philips hardware does not support transitions (other than crossfade) or animations triggered by the hue tap.)

Lightbow 1.7 - Randomization, WeMo Light Switch

Randomization

Let's shake things up a little. Anywhere you see a hue, saturation, brightness, or color temperature, you can now (optionally) specify a range of values, and Lightbow will generate a random value each time that color / white is used. 

Several bundled presets use randomization to give you some inspiration towards creating your own. Double-tap any slider knob to transform it into a range (or back), or use the "Randomize Values in Range" switch to activate/deactivate all randomization ranges at once.

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WeMo Light Switch Trigger

When Lightbow is running, it can listen for any changes in your Belkin WeMo light switches. Set up a trigger to activate any preset when that WeMo is switched to off, on, or toggled. Combine this with randomization, and you can have your own light switch rave.


Improvements to the Slider

Lightbow 1.7 addresses most of the problems I had with my original slider design. The knob area is now more obvious and easier to hit. Edges are somewhat magnetic, and therefore also easier to hit. For those interested in hitting specific values with higher sensitivity than a narrow iPhone allows, try this—on any slider knob, touch down, then drag downwards and keep your finger on the screen. The farther down you go, the more subtle your left-right dragging will influence the knob. This is similar to the video scrubbing feature Apple introduced on the iPad for getting to a specific spot in your video.

Lightbow 1.6 - Triggers, Collections, and more!

Triggers

The biggest addition to Lightbow 1.6 is the ability to trigger any Preset with a variety of events. Set an alarm to wake you up in the morning with a gradual fade-up of sunrise colors. Spice up party games with a five-minute timer ending in a strobe light. Have all your lights reset to the default warm color when you exit Lightbow and return to your iPhone home screen. Shake your phone to trigger a theater lighting cue without looking away from the action. We plan on adding more exciting Triggers in the future, so please write in and let us know what interests you!

If you have a Philips bridge, Alarm and Timer Triggers will be stored on the bridge and activate even when your phone is off. For LIFX and WeMo users, you need Lightbow open for the trigger to fire, for now. For custom transitions like fade-through-color or flashbulb, the Philips bridge cannot store those commands, so if Lightbow is not open, you will see just a normal crossfade at the appropriate time.


Collections

Some of you have dozens, or even hundreds of presets! After many requests, Lightbow now lets you organize your presets into Collections, nested as deep as you like. With tools to bulk move, duplicate, and delete just one tap away in Edit mode, managing large numbers of presets just got a whole lot easier.

From the main preset list, just hit "Edit" and look for "New Collection" in the bottom toolbar to get started.


Custom Durations

Time sliders in Lightbow go from zero to five seconds in quarter-second increments to handle what you need most of the time, but for finer-grained control over your transition durations, just tap on the number. You'll get a popup that will let you set minutes and custom fractions of a second.

Lightbow 1.5 - iPad Support, More Languages

The preset, transition, light, and group editors come to life on the iPad. With the extra screen real estate, most of the functionality of each editor can fit on a single screen. With preset sharing over your local WiFi network, you can easily transfer some or all of your presets back and forth among all your iOS devices. 

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With everyone's growing preset library, it was time to add some management features to the preset list. Now, when you tap Edit to rename and reorder your presets, you can also select multiple items to duplicate or delete all at once.

Many Lightbow users prefer to use their apps in languages other than English. With version 1.5, Lightbow can speak ten languages. Don't see your native language on the list? Email us, and we'll work together to make sure it speaks your language.

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Lightbow 1.4 - Groups, Color Conversion, and UI Improvements

Groups

The Philips Bridge has the ability to set up groups of lights within your setup. Groups make it convenient to affect any number of lights with a single tap, rather than dealing with each one individually. You can group lights by room, function or any way you like—lights can be members of multiple groups. Leverage groups to change colors in unison, or turn a whole room on/off at once. Group information is stored on the bridge, so it is instantly available to everyone on your home network.

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Color Conversion

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By now, owners of Philips hue lightbulbs have probably noticed something strange going on in the green part of the color spectrum. In order to achieve the brilliant warm & cool whites you would want to light your home, the red/green/blue LEDs inside hue's bulb are tuned to be slightly off the typical red/green/blue. It's an interesting (and worthwhile) compromise by Philips for most users, but you'll notice a distinct difference in color space from some of their other models like Bloom, Iris, Aura, and LightStrips, which are meant for for party/accent lighting and have less emphasis on beautiful whites. 

When you are working with a Philips Bloom and a Philips hue light in the same color editor, you'll see a split spectrum representing each color space. When you move the slider back and forth, you'll see the recalibration indicator update in realtime. Before, if you were to assign a hue around 75° the Philips hue would look orange while the Philips Bloom would be more of a yellow-green. Now, they will appear much closer to the same color (as hardware allows). Lightbow will be tuning and updating these color mappings with each version as we receive feedback from our users, and as new light models come to market.

UI Improvements

You can now duplicate a preset by tapping and holding on that row in the preset list. Since terms like "Color Temperature" and "Hue, Saturation, Brightness" don't mean much to many users, we're going with "Warm & Cool" and "Rainbow" to be more user friendly. ON/OFF switches in the light/group list now reflect mixed state, so you can easily see when only some of a group's lights are on.

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Lightbow 1.3 - Belkin WeMo, Brightness, and more Bulbs

Belkin WeMo

Philips hardware is great, but several of Lightbow's users have Belkin hardware as well. Belkin's family of connected home products is called "WeMo", and you can find them right next to the Philips Hue at most Apple Stores. Instead of light bulbs, they stand in as a wall outlets. It's a great way to hang on to that beautiful old lamp you love with an exposed-filiment bulb, but still have the luxury of controlling it with Lightbow. You can add Explicit ON and Explicit OFF assignments for your WeMo wall plugs right alongside all your other lights in any Lightbow preset. 

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Explicit ON and Brightness

Lightbow 1.2 added the ability to add Explicit OFF assignments to any preset, for the times when you wanted to turn specific lights off as part of a larger lighting scheme. To accommodate all the combinations of things you requested to be able to do with your lights, Lightbow now has two new assignment types. Explicit ON lets a preset specify some set of lights to turn back on (without needing a specific color setting). The Brightness assignment lets you adjust multiple light brightnesses at once without affecting the current color. Think "Dim the current colors of my lights to 15% brightness when I tap this."

 

More Bulb Models

Philips recently released the long-awaited GU10 and BR30 form factors! The GU10 is common in track and task lighting in Europe, while the BR30 is the common "big light" in America. Blooms and Light Strips were nice, but this really rounds out the Hue family well, and the new bulbs support the Color Temperature spectrum, giving you the perfect warm and cool whites that set the Philips hardware apart from other LED lighting on the market. The new light types will show up on your light list with the appropriate custom icon, and the color controls will accurately reflect the color features of your new lighting hardware. 

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Lightbow 1.2 - Transitions, Explicit OFF, and UI Improvements

I wanted to share some of the improvements in Lightbow 1.2 that I think you'll appreciate. (While 1.2 runs just fine on iOS 6, this post will focus on some iOS 7-only behavior)

 Transition settings for the Fire preset allows for fading through a deep red color.

Transition settings for the Fire preset allows for fading through a deep red color.

Transitions!

From the first release, you were able to adjust the time it took to fade between transitions, but now you can do more. Under the Behaviors section of each preset, toggle whether you want to use the default crossfade transition, or create your own transition. Imagine that every time you tap the Fire preset, it'll fade through a deep, dark red before settling on the bright red, orange, and yellow.  Or, with the "Police!" preset, get the attention of everyone in the room with half a second of strobe lights. I prefer transitioning to the Rainbow preset by a one second fade through pure white.  I'm excited to hear what our users come up with, and if there's sufficient interest, I'll add more transition types in the future.

 Explicit OFF assignment for lights you want turned off in a preset.

Explicit OFF assignment for lights you want turned off in a preset.

Explicit OFF

Hang around the everyhue.com forums and you'll encounter users with incredible home lighting setups. It isn't unusual to hear from people with a dozen or more bulbs! While you can obviously set the color of each light using Lightbow presets, it is also important to be able to have presets explicitly turn a light off, or to ignore that light entirely. To access this feature, just choose "Explicit OFF" when tapping the giant plus to create a new assignment inside the preset editor. Any light you check off in this list will receive the off command when activating that preset.

In this example, I want only my Hue lights to reflect the violet and rose colors, and explicitly turn off the LivingWhites, which would ruin the vibe.

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UI Improvements

From the beginning, I wanted the preset editor to facilitate quick and easy changes to each assignment's color and list of included lights, but v1.0 left room for improvement. The list of assigned lights used to be pushed off to a separate screen, but now you have a segmented control to flip back and forth between those two screens within the same view. If you're reassigning a bunch of lights, or in the middle of creating a fresh preset, this way is much faster. I hope that this visually reinforces that each color assignment circle is made up of two parts—the color controls and the lights assigned to that color.

The old way of viewing the preset list also bothered me. Did every row need the little (i) icon on the right? In the spirit of iOS 7, going to the preset editor was really about getting to the color assignments, and that meant the colorful circles on the left of the row. Why not make that the affordance you tap to drill down into the preset editor? While it is a change for existing users, I think this is an overall win.

Call for Beta Testers

The public release of Lightbow 1.0 is right around the corner. It is time to expand the testing pool to a wider variety of Philips Hue setups. If you are interested in participating in beta testing, please email info@lightbow.net with the number of bulbs you have available, your native language, and whether you happen to have any LIFX bulbs on pre-order.