I'll hedge my comments below in two ways:
1. I still need more time to study your documentation, maybe I'm missing something.
2. I've asked for information that I may not be considering. I've provided a logical explanation and UF research to show why your new way of doing things is bad. All I get in return are generic statements that the old way was "bad" and the new way is "good". Therefore, I may not have the full picture.
I'm inclined to believe that in developing Flex Schedules Rachio gave it their best effort to create a truly "smart" timer but it turned out to be more complicated/expensive than they thought. The people in control of funding probably believe that most potential customers would be "happy enough" with an interval-based timer that is accessible through the internet and has a user friendly interface. In the hopes of increasing profits they've decided to scale back the scope of the product to be just a smidge better than your standard "dumb" RainBird timer paired with a rain sensor.
Now the company is in PR spin mode trying to make the original adopters feel like the product didn't just take a step back. I'm definitely open to persuasion/explanation but as of right now I feel like there was a bait and switch. I feel that I wasted the $300-$400 that I spent on this product. I've got buyer's remorse and unless something changes I certainly won't be recommending Rachio to anybody else despite raving about the product in the past.
Frankly, it would be more palatable if Rachio just made the argument that the benefit you get from perfect watering is small but the financial cost to the company is large. As a customer I wouldn't be able to argue against that, it isn't ideal but it is reasonable. However, the current argument seems to be easily refuted and feels disingenuous.
Bottom line, if somebody has water restrictions then they're going to be in a sub-optimal situation no matter what but it is the job of a "smart" timer to choose the least bad option.
Suppose the grass isn't showing symptoms of drought quite yet but thanks to watering restrictions you can't water for the next X days. If the timer waters right now then we're not doing all we can to promote deep root growth but if we water after X days we may endure drought-related damage to the turf. It is up to the "smart" timer to determine which option is the least bad by considering the following:
- How dry the grass currently is.
- The weather forecast for the next X days.
- How dry the grass will be after X days.
- How long the grass would be in "too dry" of a state if we didn't water for another X days.
The idea that watering more per application in the summer and less in the winter is helpful for people with watering restrictions doesn't make any sense.
Lets assume that in the winter the water depth is perfect for promoting root depth. Then by watering more in the summer you're not helping anybody make it through the hot days when they aren't allowed to water...you're just wasting water because you've watered to a depth that the roots can't reach.
Conversely, lets assume that in the summer the water depth gets down to the lowest root (making it more likely to last through hot water restricted days). Then when winter comes you're not watering to the lowest root depth and that promotes shallower roots. That in turn means that when summer comes around your lawn is now less drought tolerant and more likely to have trouble during the hot water restricted days.
It doesn't make one bit of sense!