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Philips Hue Sync Explained

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Philips Hue has  always been controlled via an app through your phone or tablet, however with Hue Sync things have changed, and we now have software that will run on Mac OS or Windows.

Philips Hue Sync Box Vs Hue Sync App

There are two parts to the Hue sync feature and both are different but the results created are the same.

Hue Sync Box

This is a physical product, a box device that you can plug your HDMI devices into, it then plugs into your TV, this device allows you to sync your lights with your TV using Hue entertainment areas. The Hue sync box uses Zigbee to tell your Hue set up what colors are being displayed on the screen and adjusts your Hue lights to match accordingly. 

Hue Sync App

The Sync app, is software that is for Mac OS or Windows, it is about matching your Hue lights to the on screen action, be it a video game, movie, music or photos. You can download the Hue Sync app via their website here.

Hue sync is different to the latest Hue 3.0 app, the app is about setting up your Hue lights, changing individual lights and setting scenes. Hue sync dines’t have the functions of setting up and adding new lights, it is all focused on matching your lights to your screen, be it a movie or video on youtube.

With Hue entertainment areas set up via the app you can sync your lights to the beat or music with virtually no latency at all, creating surround sound with lights.

The software itself is well designed and very easy to use, it matches the styling and UI of the 3.0 app and works really well. From testing the app, it isn’t currently compatible with protected content from streaming sites such as Netflix. When you try to sync your lights with it you see a warning that it might not work with protected content.

What is needed for Hue Sync to Work?

To use Hue Sync you must have a 2nd Gen Hue bridge, this does not work with Bluetooth and will not work with the 1st Gen Hue Bridge.

Depending how you will use Hue sync, you also need the free Hue Sync app installed on your Mac or Windows PC, or have a HDMI Sync box set up.

Hue Sync in action with Hue Lights

When Hue entertainment was released there were talks of new partners, Razor are currently the only partner and more are certainly needed, fingers crossed a gaming company or streaming service such as Netflix move in to allow syncing with Hue lights.

It works ok with music, however there are better apps that do this better focused on music such as Hue Disco, and HueParty.

Another downside is that it only works with color bulbs, white ambient bulbs will not work, this is odd and strange as they are part of the Hue eco system.

The app is free, it works well and is easy to use, there are no latency issues and if you already have Hue lights around your home then this is a great extra to get more from them.

While this is a great start there must be more to come allowing it to work with gaming consoles and streaming services, once this happens then this will really be something that will be used a lot more regularly.

Hue lights are the hardware, however all the possibilities to take advantage of this, is via software and Philips know it, the app and now Hue Sync make the Hue eco system stand out and hopefully if they can partner with a streaming and gaming company then big things are still to come.

How can you use Hue Sync?

Hue sync can be used in a number of ways and connect to different devices, but what can it sync? 

Does hue sync work with Netflix?

You can use the Hue Sync box to sync your lights with Netflix, the one catch is this must be played via another device and not from your smart TV where you may have the Netflix app installed. You can play Netflix via a games console, streaming device, Apple TV for example, with these devices connected to the HDMI Sync Box it will then stream to your TV and your Hue lights will adjust accordingly.

You can use the Hue Sync app, however due to protection your cannot do this via the Hue Sync app and display it on your screen, you would need to cast it to your TV.

Does hue sync work with Apple TV?

Connecting your Apple TV to the HDMI Sync box allows you to sync your lights with what is being played.

Apple TV will not work with the Hue Sync app on your computer due to proceed image rights, so again this is best used via the Sync box via a device that is plugged in. Again this will not work with smart apps on your TV and must be played via an external device.

Does hue sync work with Smart TV’s?

Smart TV’s are great as you can run the apps from them, however because of this it then does not run through the Hue Sync Box which is the clever device that works out what colors to make your lights, because of this your Hue lights don’t know and therefore it doesn’t work.

Due to this it is best to run the apps through a different device that is plugged into the HDMI Hue box, such as a games console, AppleTV, Amazon firestick to name a few.

Does hue sync work with Spotify?

Yes, both options work great with Spotify, the Hue Sync app is designed for use with Spotify and the app on your phone can also work with this. There are lots of options however for creating a real party mode with your Hue lights it is worth looking at other apps such as Hue Disco which work better.


Founder & Editor

Mike is the founder of Hue Home Lighting, a huge Hue fan with far too many lights, covering home and garden. A smart home gadget addict and also enjoys the odd bit of DIY

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