Workaround: Philips Hue Scenes in Google Assistant through IFTTT

Finally our Google Home supports Philips Hue scenes natively! Still, if this feature does not work for you, here’s a workaround.

Before we start, let me warn you that with this workaround you will need to configure every scene manually. It is a terrible workaround, but if you are new to IFTTT, you might find it enlightening to see how it works and how it connects bits and pieces.

Please make sure you’ve set up Google Home and Philips Hue according to the original post here: Google Assistant and Philips Hue: Setup, Review and Voice Commands.

In this post we will set up IFTTT to connect our Google Assistant with our Philips Hue lights and have our Philips Hue Scenes available in Google Assistant.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT Logo
IFTTT Logo

Launched in 2011, IFTTT, which is short for If This Then That, provides a free web-service for connecting different services with simple conditions. Back in 2014, when I first started to play around with IFTTT, I tried to connect some WeMo motion sensors with Philips Hue, only to realize, oops, it can take up to 15 minutes that one service gets notified by another through IFTTT. That was a no-go for smart lighting back then, but the time has changed. Some services have improved over time and people like to use it and – why not – if it provides (temporary) workarounds, let’s check them out.

IFTTT Concepts

Services are the different web-services that we can connect together, in form of an action. The Google Assistant and Philips Hue services, is what we need in our case. The trigger would be certain phrases recognized by Google Assistant, e.g. “set the scene …” and the action would be to set the corresponding scene through the Philips Hue service.

The applet we need to create looks like:
If this (Trigger: Google Assistant recognizes e.g. “set the scene couch relax”)
then that (Action: e.g. “set the scene couch relax” through the Philips Hue service).

Setting Up the Philips IFTTT Applet

Head over to the official web-site of IFTTT and either download the iOS or the Android app, if you prefer to configure it on your smartphone/tablet or register on the website, if you want to use your desktop browser.

IFTTT Applet: Tell Google Assistant to set a scene
IFTTT Applet by Philips: Tell Google Assistant to set a scene

Once you have created your IFTTT account, on your preferred platform, navigate to this IFTTT applet link provided by Philips: Tell Google Assistant to set the scene and click “turn on”.

Google Assistant and Philips Hue Services in IFTTT
Connecting IFTTT with Google Assistant and Philips Hue

Depending on whether you’ve already connected any of these services, IFTTT will indicate that it needs the Google Assistant and Philips Hue service for this applet, acknowledge by tapping “OK”.

Enter your Google Assistant account. You will see a notification that IFTTT wants to manage your Google voice commands, you need to click “allow”. The next screen is connecting IFTTT to your Philips Hue account. In case you have multiple Hue bridges, log in with the Philips Hue account which contains the scenes you want to control.

Configuring the Philips IFTTT Applet

Google Assistant configuration in IFTTT
IFTTT Google Assistant configuration

Now we are in the applet configuration and here we can set up, up to three phrases which Google Assistant will recognize. We can specify a response phrase, e.g. “Setting the scene …” which Google Assistant will utter as soon as it activates the action and we can select which Philips Hue scene shall be activated.

Philips Hue configuration in IFTTT
IFTTT Philips Hue configuration

Note, that the 2 dashes, e.g. “–Couch” represent a room and the respective scenes are below that. Pick – for instance – the scene “Relax” under the room “–Couch”. Save the applet and a message “Success – Applet turned on” will indicate that we are ready to test. Utter one of the three phrases, which Google Assistant will acknowledge by saying “Setting the scene …” and Philips Hue will set the specified scene triggered by IFTTT.

Mission accomplished.

Yes, but that’s only ONE scene?

Bummer, if we need more scenes supported, we need to create more applets. Back in the old IFTTT days when applets were called recipes, we were able to duplicate them. Today we need to create an applet from scratch, for every scene, in every room. Don’t tell me I have not warned you.

The “If This”

The "If This" part
Once again: The “If This” part

Under the tab “My Applets” click the big plus sign in the top right corner. Click on the blue “+this” to add the first service, which is Google Assistant.

Picking the Google Assistant trigger in IFTTT
Picking the Google Assistant trigger

Now we see the different triggers Google Assistant provides, we pick the first one: “Say a simple phrase”.

Specifying the Google Assistant Phrase in IFTTT
Specifying the Google Assistant Phrases

A familiar dialog pops up where we can define up to three phrases and the Assistants response.

Let’s fill them with another example, like “Set office concentrate”. Click “next”.

The “Then That”

the "then that" part in IFTTT
And another: the “then that” part

We now need to specify the “+that” service, which is Philips Hue. The following list shows us all the actions we can perform through IFTTT on our Philips Hue lights.

We pick “set a scene in a room” and specify “concentrate” under the room “–Office”. After finishing our configuration, we are ready with this scene.

Specifying the action with Philips Hue in IFTTT
Specifying the action with Philips Hue

Repeat the process above for every scene you would like to speech-enable with Google Home.

Conclusion

Our own IFTTT applet is ready
Our own applet is ready

So this is the “official” workaround by Philips to support scenes in the Google Assistant. I believe we all agree, that it’s rather tedious to workaround this way.

Google has announced better scene support already back in November 2017 and we can’t wait for an automatic way to have the Philips Hue scenes supported in Google Assistant.

Until then, we will have to “workaround”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! The original Google Home and Philips Hue post is here: Google Assistant and Philips Hue: Setup, Review and Voice Commands.
You can find more Google Home posts here: Google Assistant.
For a comparison of all assistants in combination with Philips Hue, please see: Assistant Showdown with Philips Hue: Who will win? Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you are interested in smart ideas for your smart lighting, check out:

If you have any questions or want to share your experience, thoughts and ideas in regard to IFTTT, Google Assistant and Philips Hue, please leave your comment below!

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