@Rachio4567 Yes, you need a connection to our cloud API to get all of the benefits of real time water budgeting, weather intelligence, push notifications, email, third party integrations (IFTTT, etc.) We plan on being around for a very long time and building the best cloud connected irrigation controller product and features.
We do not currently have a way to control the device 'locally'. It is on our roadmap but not a high priority since you lose most of our cloud connected benefits.
Thanks for asking and let us know if you have any more questions or feedback!