A couple of years ago Rachio confused things a lot when they became convinced that a fully automatic controller that doesn’t use a schedule, that waters only when the soils needs water, was a concept too complicated for its existing and future customers. Cost for support (to answer the questions) was higher than Rachio’s investors were comfortable with.
To cut support costs Rachio made a strategic decision to no longer offer ‘fully automatic.’ Everything had to be on some kind of a ‘schedule.’ This made it like those familiar with past technology controllers, always based on a timer/schedule, easier to be a Rachio user.
But a few people, or maybe some portion of people, objected to losing ‘not on a schedule - only waters when needed’ capability. Some number, like me, complained and abandoned Rachio because ‘not on a schedule - only water when needed’ was the whole reason for purchase. I was insulted that the smart Rachio leaders would try to ‘market speak’ how the new ‘always on some kind of a schedule’ was superior to ‘only water when the soil needs it.’ It became clear to me that the real problem Rachio was fixing was support costs too high.
Then Rachio decided to bring back ‘not on a schedule - only water when needed’ capability. But the marketing / investor decision makers wanted it named ‘flex,’ and urged ‘flex’ only for advanced users.
I think this whole subject area has been the one strategic error Rachio has made so far. But, if it’s the only one, then they’ll prove to be smarter than most. Product development decisions are hard. Especially when you want to be a s/w company producing a h/w controller and you’re going to try to model soil moisture condition algorithmically, with no hardware sensors. Tough, tough mission.
What you’ve commented on are what I believe two areas that can be improved quite a bit. Clean up the screens (user inputs) such that the holdover from when everything for a while was schedule based is eliminated. And simplify terminology such that ‘fully automatic,’ not ‘flex,’ etc. is what ‘only water when needed’ actually is called.
IMO, for steady state situations, not running the Rachio on ‘fully automatic’ (‘flex’) substantially diminishes the value of investing into a Iro.