The April update for Home Assistant has just landed, 2022.4 and this month is a big one with lots of new features including some highly requested ones that I know you are going to be excited for!
This release see's the addition of the long awaited Groups in the UI, a brand new Switch as X feature, even more input helpers and so much more!
I would say the theme for this release has been a focus on making things easier and streamlining the experience (which is the main focus for this year), which we love to see - so let us just jump right in!
Switch as X
You know how if you have a smart plug or a Shelly/Sonoff or some other relay, they will show up in Home Assistant as a switch with a toggle, right?
But what if this smart plug or relay is actually controlling a light, fan or maybe your garage door? A switch might not quite be the correct type. Previously you could get around this by creating a template of the original entity, but that’s not easy or that quick for everyone to do.
The new Switch as X feature allows you to quickly and easily convert a Home Assistant switch into another type, such as a light or cover - all done from the UI in just a few seconds. As of this release, the following types are supported:
You can do this by heading over to Configuration, Automations and then helpers. Add a new helper and select Switch as X. From here you can then select the type of device you would like to convert too. The device will now show up as whatever entity you selected!
This is a really great simple way to quickly convert switches into the correct type!
Groups Finally Arrive In The UI
One of the most requested feature I've had people asking me about in the last few months as finally arrived - you can now create Groups inside the user interface!
A group lets you combine multiple devices or entities in Home Assistant into a single one, so that all of those separate entities can be controlled as one.
For the last few years we’ve seen so many features become available to configure inside of the UI rather than configuration files, but groups have always remained in the config files - until this release!
To configure a group, head over to Configuration, Automations and then click on helpers. Add a new helper, then select a group and choose the type of group you want. Finally, give the group a name and select all the entities you want to group together - that's it, group created!
This is such a simple yet welcome addition that has been long overdue for lots of us - really great to see that.
Even More Input Helpers
While we are in the Input helpers menu, you will have noticed that there are a bunch of new input helpers other than the 2 we’ve already talked about, including the following:
I did a video a couple of weeks back showing you how I use a few of the existing input helpers, but now with all of these new ones, perhaps we will need to do a follow up video!
Make Entities Disappear
Next, we have a feature that will help streamline and keep your install a bit cleaner and more organized - you can now hide entities from the UI.
Up until now, we've been able to enable and disable entities in the UI - disabling an entity would pretty much remove it from being shown in the UI. You couldn’t control it, it wouldn’t be recorded in the database and for all intents and purposes, it was pretty much like it had been deleted, but you could quickly turn it back on if you wanted to.
Well hide is kind of like the middle ground - it will stop the entity being shown in the UI meaning it won’t show up in your Home Assistant dashboard or anywhere else. It will also hide them from being shown in HomeKit, Google Assistant or Alexa, but it is still being recorded and monitored if you ever need to refer back to it.
Again, a really simple but useful feature for keeping your instance clutter free!
Backups For Everyone
If you are using Home Assistant OS or Supervised, then you’ve been enjoying the ability to take regular backups of your install whenever you make changes, but Home Assistant Core and Container installs have never had this option.
Instead you’ve had to take manual backups of your config folder - 2022.4 introduces the ability to take backups on Home Assistant Container and Core for easier backing up of your install.
The good thing is that these backups are compatible with Home Assistant OS, and presumably supervised, if you ever wanted to migrate in the future... nice!
Automations also see a couple of improvements in 2022.4. Firstly, variables are now supported in the trigger of an automation which allow you to reference them later in your action. This could be great, for example, for sending a notification letting you know which motion sensor triggered an automation.
There is also a new condition tester inside automations too. What this does is allow you to enter a condition in your automation and hit the test button - if it turns green then it means that the device or entity you have chosen is currently matching that condition and if it turns red then it means its not matching that condition:
Really nice little visual representation to help make sure that the conditions are working as you expect them too!
Zone States Are Back
Next comes the return of a feature that we’ve seen before….sort of.
The state of a zone at the moment just says "Zoning" - which isn't really all that helpful.
But now with 2022.4, zones will now display the number of people in that zone instead.
I mentioned back in the release of 2022.2 that zones would now show the state of how many people were in that zone…this feature never actually made it out of beta and was removed due to some issues with it - my bad!
But, that feature has now returned and is in this release! I know a lot of you have been waiting for it ever since I mentioned it, so now you can use the state of zones in your automations to trigger based on how many people are in those zones!
Update All The Things
Another nice quality of life improvement is the new update entity - this is a new type of entity in Home Assistant - much like you have a light entity or a switch entity.
The new update entity will essentially allow for integrations to inform you that there is an update available. Some entities can even allow you to even trigger and install firmware or updates right from this if the integration supports it.
You can already see this in action for Home Assistant Core, Supervisor and OS updates which allow you to directly install them. There are some other integrations which have already implemented this as well, such as WLED, so this will allow you trigger a WLED firmware update right from the Home Assistant UI.
There are limited integrations supporting this out of the gate, but this does lay the framework for a lot of other cool features in the future - love this one!
Adjusting Long Term Statistics
The last big feature that we have for this release is that you can now adjust long term statistics.
Now, I’m not one of these people, but I know that lots of you love to retain long term statistics for years, but have you ever had it happen where a value makes its way into your statistics that messes everything up?
Perhaps you added an extra zero where it shouldn’t have been or there was a huge spike in data, whatever it was, you can now go in and correct these statistics using this new tool (it's under developer tools), this allows you to go in and fix any mistakes so that your data isn’t skewed.
But Wait...There Are More!
That was a lot of new features but we aren’t done yet!
There have been some other features and fixes worth speaking about. Firstly, there have once again been performance improvements to the database which should help with not only database size, but also a reduction in writes which should help preserve SD card lifetimes. They say that most installs should see a 10-35% performance improvement which is always welcome.
There have also been 7 new integrations added in this release, including the following:
There have also been 19 new integrations available to configure from the UI too, check them out here.
There have also been a bunch of new media sources available to select from the media browser, including the following:
- Denon HEOS
- Linn / OpenHome
- Logitech Squeezebox
- Music Player Daemon (MPD)
- Panasonic Viera
- UniFi Protect
- Yamaha MusicCast
There are a bunch more minor update for this release too, check out the full release notes.
Finally, I would like to remind you to read the breaking changes for this release and indeed every release, particularly I would like to mention that OpenZWave and the old Z-Wave integration which were deprecated a while ago now, are removed in this release so if you are still using those integrations then they are no longer available in 2022.4 and you will need to migrate to the new and improved Z-Wave JS integration before you can update.
Please do not update before you have done that, so that is a very important one to take note of.
There are a bunch of GPIO integrations that were previously depreciated also being remove in this release so make sure to read through these to make sure you aren’t using any of them.
Please note this does not include the Raspberry Pi GPIO integration which is deprecated but also isn't scheduled to be remove until 2022.6 so you still have some time there to migrate to the alternative solutions.
Alright, that was so many features in this release! Loving all of these quality of life improvements and focus on improving and streamlining the user experience. What is your favourite new feature? Is there one or two you'd like me to go into more depth about? Please do let me know.
Hope you're excited about this release as much as I am!