Wink Will Hold Your Hub For Ransom Starting July 27th

A Wink Hub and box tied to a chair, as if being ransomed.
Josh Hendrickson

When last we left off with Wink, the company decided to start charging a subscription with one week’s notice. Then it extended that another week. Then Wink announced it would hold off until further notice, thanks to “incredible support” for the subscription plan. Today, further notice arrives, and Wink has announced it will start charging a $5 a month subscription beginning July 27th.

You can choose not to pay for the subscription, but that comes at a very high cost. You’ll lose access to the Wink API, cloud control, voice control, remote control, your Robots (automations), groups, shortcuts, and activities. That only leaves local control of a few devices.

You’ll either have to give in and subscribe to the Wink subscription, or change to another smart hub that’s compatible with all your smart home devices. 

The news came via an email sent to users today:

Hello Wink Community,

We want to share updates about our Wink subscription – a vital change for Wink that will enable us to provide our customers with a strong and growing smart home experience. The change will bring about expanded support for new brand integrations and continue to bring enhancements through firmware and software updates.

Please know that we have adjusted our timelines since our initial announcement on May 6th to allow users more opportunity to make considerations. We were able to extend our service so that subscriptions will now begin on Monday, July 27th, 2020. All users who have not already subscribed will need to visit subscription.wink.com to sign up. Users with a Hub on their account should subscribe with the same email address that is registered with their Hub. Paid subscribers can continue using all of their connected devices, cloud services, automations, and 3rd party integrations.

For most of its history, Wink touted that it didn’t charge a monthly subscription to use its Hub, and it says so right on the Hub’s box. To anyone who bought a Hub under that promise, the switch to a subscription service may feel like having your smart home held for ransom.

A Wink box with the words "No Monthly Fees or Subscriptions"
Josh Hendrickson

That it came to this isn’t a surprise, though. Wink has been on shaky ground for years, culminating in two buyouts, including the latest to iam+, a tech company owned by Will.i.am. Eventually, you couldn’t find hardware in stores, and we stopped recommending the product altogether.

The truth is, a subscription service is probably necessary for the company to have any chance to continue. Ongoing revenue is needed to keep the cloud servers going.

But for all that, it still feels like a bait-and-switch. When it comes to any service, free is never really free.

A random style note stating "5 per month or your wink dies, no cops!"

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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