Latest upgrade seems to have been created in a vacuum

Just downloaded latest app update.
Horrible - and I am being polite.
Rachio’s calling card was its intuitive operation.
This is a system designed by actual users! Awesome!
Until now.

Let’s take the most basic function: adjust a program and running it. Why do I note adjust? Because while I may just want to run a program - I often want to adjust it first when running it manually. I might have just cut the grass, or fertilized, or know I am going to have to skip due to use of the yard, or want it to run quickly while I work on sprinkler heads, or 10,000 other reasons we like to adjust the timing - then hit start. If I am turning on manually, 50% of the time or greater, I want to adjust the “schedule” or program first.

Also - If I am adjusting or running a program manually - I am often in the yard. That means wet and/or muddy finger tips. As few clicks as is humanly possible is called for here.

Example: Geez. It’s going to be boiling today and tomorrow. I am running the system as little as I can to save water - but an extra soaking is in order. Ok.

  1. open app
  2. click on play
  3. click on schedules
  4. click a schedule. Oh WAIT! I can no longer make any adjustments before it starts to run. Shoot. I dont want it to run the same length as I have it set to.
    Let’s try again.
  5. Open app
  6. Click on calendar
  7. Click on schedules
  8. Click on the schedule I want
  9. Click on watering duration
  10. Finally - I can adjust lengths, and thankfully I can still do it globally. ok. adjust the time with a few clicks. terrific. Time to hit start.
  11. Oh. Wait. There is no start. Are you kidding? ok. 7. Click on home
  12. Click on play
  13. Click on schedules
  14. Finally - click on the schedule I’ve previously adjusted. 10 clicks. Frustration personified.

In the mean time, the home page uses 40% of its space to tell me how much usage I have had this month - and there it is. That is where the rubber meets the road. Rachio is confusing the selling of water savings that has functionality with functionality that produces water savings. Your customers are largely the latter - not the former.

Suggestion for some basic rules for programing:

  1. NEVER have a screen that allows you to change a schedule without a one touch start also.
  2. NEVER have a screen that allows you to one touch start of a schedule without also being able to alter that schedule

You have done both with this most recent update - taking away what separated Rachio from the pack - and putting them behind it rather than in front of it.

Signed: totally frustrated customer

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Two approaches: I’m assuming that if you do this frequently, you have saved a link to app.rach.io on your home screen.

  1. open page
  2. tap schedules
  3. tap desired schedule
  4. tap watering duration
  5. adjust times as desired
  6. tap done
  7. tap quick run

This method saves the timing changes. When you edit the schedule again, that’s where you’ll start from.

Alternate approach:

  1. open page
  2. tap quick run
  3. tap add custom run
  4. tap desired zone(s)
  5. tap next
  6. adjust times as desired (they start from 3 min. per zone)
  7. tap done

This method does not change the timing of any existing schedules.

IMO these are elegant solutions because they work the same on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux. They are pretty much the same as last year and aren’t fussy about what OS version you happen to be running.

Unfortunately, Rachio added some features to their mobile apps which have not been ported to the website, so if you need to use those features, you are stuck with the app.

For wet/muddy hands (adjusting or cleaning heads), set up Google Assistant and you can start and stop zones completely hands free.

Stewart.
First - thanks for the restrained response.
Frustration level at 11 on a 10 station controller when I posted.
Second - thank you for providing a work around.

That said - my challenge to Rachio product management stands.
Truly an inexcusable loss of basic functionality when you consider; the app is to Rachio’s budget as defense spending is to the US.
Perhaps a misfit analogy - but the spending order of magnitude percentages stand.
This is the center of the system.
Everyone has a timer.
Many have apps.
But what set(s) Rachio apart was their functionality and app.

*Never have a screen that shows a schedule you can’t modify
*Never have a screen that has a schedule you cant start

The two are mutually inclusive - and this existed previously.
Fewer clicks to get there would have been right evolution.
Newest version of app is a significant step backwards in my opinion.
Home page says it all.

A sign for the office at Rachio.
“Its the functionality stupid”
Harsh - but fair.
Rachio will never be bigger than their app - and all efforts to expand to ancillary products like lawn care - will fail if they loose sight of it.

Again - appreciate your time. Hope they read.

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Personally my primary expectation from a smart controller is to get pass the “set it and forget it” point, at this point I mainly have just two schedules, my daily flex schedule which takes care of normal irrigation needs and my new grass schedule which runs when there is time to add new seed.

That being said, there is no limit on number of schedules you can create. You can create any number of preset schedules, with different informative names, such as “add a bit” or “flood it good”, etc… and customize which zones run for how long for each configuration. This will minimize repetitive work of having to customize a single schedule / quick run and allow you to create a toolbox of presets.
The date / time settings for these presets can be set to anything you’d like, simply disable the schedule after you create it, and you would be able to run it with a few clicks of a button via the app or website.

App > Quick Run > Schedules > Disabled but selectable schedule / preset
Website > Schedule > Disabled but selectable schedule / preset > Quck Run

P.S. I believe you can even tie these disabled schedules to IFTTT to further automate irrigation based on weather.

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Gene, I agree with all you said regarding alternatives. they are very useful.
I have schedules for above ground long and short, below ground same. Germination x 2 as well. 6 - 8 different ones.

However, removing the ability to adjust stations at quick start, and removing quick start from where you adjust stations, is a Significant oversight and step backwards. I’m sure I’m not the only one finding this needlessly reduced functionality problematic and frustrating. That qualifies as app malpractice in my view.

The value of Rachio’s system above others, and others to come, has been and is the functionality and usability.

My critique of the home page remains as well. Users who want data are most likely to be sitting at a desk Or on their couch. A few extra clicks is a non issue. But Data currently holds prime real estate on the home page - where quick single click functionality upon opening the app would be ideal.

Rachio, if your reading this, pass it around. The app is often used outside, with dirty wet hands on people’s phone. Single touch commands are an enormous plus. Your team must be aware. The app Design should reflect that - and for users that want to adjust programs prior to when they manually run them - you have turned it frustratingly into a ten click event. Not good.

Thanks.
-CM

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@charlieman22 Always appreciate and looking for respectful feedback, I’ll be sure the product team receives this.

:cheers:

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This was me last weekend and several times on my phone (Android P2) the stop button from a quick run was blocked by the home row… there I am standing in the middle of the grass and can’t turn it off… yes the bug has been reported here

For me, I find the wi-fi ability to turn on/off valves to be it’s best and about the only feature that interests me, there is no set it and forget it… weekly I have to tweak it b/c my yard is full of mixed heads, pipe sizes, run lengths on 3/4 acre which I won’t tear up to start over and I don’t want 20 stations…

YMMV

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@franz, thank you!
People communicate here because you guys have a loyal following.
You were the first and the best.

My $.02 if you want to add to my prior notes in a consolidated manner:
Data belongs on a tab labeled Data. Items that will be read on the couch or desk belong on their own Data tab - not on the start up/home screen. Use of home page real estate for this and “lawn smarts” is super inefficient.

Home page ideal: All business of fast action. Remember - we are often getting soaked, phone has timed out and is off, and amount of time to get a function activated is critical.

Some Specifics: 9 out of 10 times when we do open the app, it is to execute either a zone or schedule. With that in mind - look at the home page currently. Its filled with non essentials - and does not reflect what the app is being most used for by your customers. Not good. Instead, top 3 or 4 used schedules with a global time adjust slide (or +/-) and a start stop button would be phenomenal. An edit button that takes you to the schedules tab if it is fine tuning that is required would be enough - but basic on off and global adjust need to be on home page at min.

Below the schedule section on home page, a list of zones (no pictures) with +/- and start/stop would then make the home page have 90% of the functionality of the items that are 90% of what the app is being opened for. Challenge to your programers: How many customers do they think they have uploaded pictures for their zones? Im not saying its not a nice feature - or never used - but I am going to put that at 10-15% max. Meaning - its nice for the zone page - but not required for the home page, and certainly not in large scale. List them. We all know our zones pretty well - and a simple ability to label and perhaps a small image would be sufficient.

A. If I can start a zone or schedule on/off, I need a means to edit it on the same screen.
B. If I can edit a zone or schedule, I need a means to start it.

Thats because most of the time A occurs with B, or B occurs with A. My prior note outlined the 10 clicks of total frustration to get from one to the other currently… So on that home page - the schedule should have a label, a global +/-, a start/stop button, and an edit button - that would take you to the edit screen for that schedule for single zone alteration.

Doesn’t need to be crowded or ugly. Time spent making it elegant would be time well spent in my view - but if anyone on your team believes this is not what the app is being used for - and people are going to the app for lawn care maintenance tips - I challenge that. We do that on our couch or desk with the internet - so please stop filling the home page with it at the cost of maximizing functionality controls.

Thanks for listening.
-CM

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@charlieman22 Thanks again for this feedback. We never promise anything in regards to delivering requested features, obviously there are many variables at hand that customers are not able to see in how our team makes product decisions, but we very much enjoy and Thrive (ha!) on product feedback. Will definitely relay this feedback as well to the product team. Have a great weekend.

:cheers:

Guess I don’t follow the issues you have with manual runs. I can run any of my zones within 3-4 button presses (depending on number of zones I’m trying to run). Zero reason to go to the calendar and mess with that for a quick run.

No product or software will ever please EVERY person. I personally think the Rachio app is one of the most intuitive IoT devices I have, but everyone will have their own opinion on that I guess.

I’m confused at your meaning of adjusting stations. Are you talking about a zone? If I want to do something with a zone, I just go to zones, and then do quick runs from each individual zone. (which works well on an iphone). Or are you trying to adjust zones within a schedule?

Hi Tmc: The issue is not running a zone. The issue is running a “schedule” (in layman’s term, a program of zones). Up until this “upgrade” of the app, you could modify the schedule by zone or simply all zones at once, and do a quick start, from a single screen. This feature was removed - and now to do both it requires 10 clicks. Step backwards. Step forward would have been to bring that functionality to the home screen in place of non “used in the field” essential elements they have there now.

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Hi Linn - the issue is, if I have a schedule (a group of zones programmed together) and I want to modify its length of total run evenly with a global +/- button, or perhaps run it but without one zone, that say has a broken sprinkler, I now have to click 10 times to accomplish. That’s not good. It used to be on a single screen as there was a quick start button on the same screen I could modify the zone timing on.

It is all about the clicks.
With each iteration of the app, that should become more efficient.
Priority should go to “in the field” commands on the home screen.
Data is terrific but that and advertisements for product and how to’s don’t belong on home screen real estate.

To clarify you question - Yes - I can go and run zones - but what if I want one zone not to run from an existing schedule? Creating a whole new schedule, or manually running each zone after the last one, or having to click 10 times to execute a single zone not running in a schedule, are all brutally inefficient solutions.

Removal of fast start button from schedule editing screen was a step backwards.

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Franz. That makes sense. Of course! However - in this case we are largely talking about functionality that was removed - rather than request for new features. My comments on optimizing home screen were intended as you say - to provide useful feedback for the team to consider. My challenge to them would still be -

  1. Do they think I am wrong about what holds the most value to your customers as a goal to design to for the home screen (quick action functionality)
  2. Do they believe they have optimized the home screen for that.

If the answer is yes to #1 - then no point in proceeding. Im simply off base.
But if they agree with my point on #1, how well do they think the new design delivers on optimizing for that?

:slightly_smiling_face:.

I think its a fair challenge.
How they solve for it is the magic that you guys bring.
Best,
-CM

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Trust me @charlieman22, you don’t have to put things in layman’s terms for me. :joy: :rofl: :crazy_face:

I could argue the contrary. Rachio is first and foremost, a smart ML (in layman’s terms, that is Machine Leaning, learns as it goes :wink:) product that can run itself with little human interaction, not a remote controlled sprinkler system. IMHO of course…

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@tmcgahey May I request that you cite your source as to show that Rachio incorporates ML in its current firmware? I could not find any mention of ML in any marketing or spec document anywhere.

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@rent, here you go!

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We have a lot more impactful ML on the upcoming roadmap as well :wink:

:cheers:

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Gents,
Just to be clear, my “schedule” in parenthesis was a reference to my misuse of terminology in my prior post - which had been called out. I was the “layman” being referred to in parenthesis. :slightly_smiling_face:. Nothing intended by it.

As for ML:

  1. I wasn’t sure what ML stood for. Seriously. (I would have had to look it up if you hadn’t defined.) Caused a chuckle.
  2. Because I assume that Rachio is collecting data from users. Data like… how they change their systems and when! Functionality and ML are inextricably linked.

It seams to me that ML is complimentary to my input on functionality - and that ML is certainly not mutually exclusive to great functionality.
Why have any remote controls on the APP at all if its purpose is just ML.
Think it is safe to say, the remote settings and operation features are central to the product - and I believe Rachio thinks that too.

None of my critique or suggestions would affect ML - but they might speed Rachio’s learning through improved quality of data on behaviors.

In my view (with apologies to Franz who bravely reads all this) the marketing department has fallen a little too much in love with the outcome of the good functionality. They tout the outcome - water savings - with messages/images on the home page - but they do so at the cost of delivering better outcomes by using prime real estate.

Does anyone really believe that how much water used last month, having information on roots, or knowing when to overseed, should trump a set of killer simple controls that pop up as soon as you open the app? 'Cause that’s how they have it currently - and it came with a reduction in functionality as I documented.

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