The Aqara Cube is creative way to control your smart home devices without having to use your phone or voice AI.
Smart buttons are often a convenient option, but often are limited to one or two inputs, making them ok for controlling a single device, like a light or a plug.
The Aqara Cube offers six unique actions to control your smart home devices, and today i’m going to review it for you.
You can 1) push it, 2) rotate it flatly 3) flip it 90 degrees, 4) flip it 180 degrees, 5) double tap it, and 6) shake it.
Aqara Cube Setup
First you have to set it up which is easy. It comes with this little metal tab that you use to pry open the back of the cube. You have to exude a decent amount of force to get it to open, but don’t worry, it’ll open with no issues.
In there you’ll find the battery that powers the Cube, which Aqara says lasts two years.
There’s also the sync/reset button which is what you hold down for 5 seconds until the little LED blinks 3 times, which will then start the syncing process.
If you successfully set it up, you’ll hear the Aqara Hub yell out that a new device has been added.
Yes, you will need an Aqara Hub for this device to work, and that’s because it doesn’t strictly work with Google Assistant, Alexa, or HomeKit.
Due to the unique nature of the device and its operations, these three ecosystems simply don’t recognize the actions that the Aqara Cube does.
There is a bit of a roundabout way to get the Cube to control HomeKit devices, which we will get to in a little bit.
Aqara Cube Functionality
You may assume the Cube is a portable device, since it’s mobile by nature, but how much you move it around your house will depend on how much time you spend in various rooms and how many smart devices you have in there.
I’ve found that since working from home for the past couple months I can pretty reasonably take it with me from the home office to my living room when i’m done with my work.
However if you spend the majority of your time in a specific room or have all of your smart home stuff in one room, then it’s reasonable to just leave it in there.
One thing that is both good and bad is that there are 6 actions, and depending on how often you use them, you may forget what they do, but maybe that’s just my poor memory.
As an example you can flip it 90 degrees to turn your living room lights on, and then flip it 180 degrees to turn it back off.
Double tap in the evening to turn off all of your lights, and shake it in the morning to activate your morning routine.
The only one of the 6 gestures that didn’t work as expected was the rotation. It works if you set it up as a simple on / off toggle action. But the idea of rotating the cube to adjust the brightness of a light linearly with rotation is not quite there yet.
Responsiveness of the gestures in general is very quick, which is great. Even with the added “hack” to get it to work with Homekit, the response time was reasonable.
The only real issue I have with it is that it is limited to the Aqara ecosystem, but I don’t necessarily blame that on Aqara, as it’s up to Apple / Google / Amazon to implement those kind actionable gestures to their ecosystems.
Aqara Cube HomeKit Setup
But thankfully there are ways around this limitation. At the moment it works with HomeKit using the Eve app, but it does work.
Basically what you do is have each of the Cube gestures activate the Aqara hub to a certain brightness. I picked low ranges from 5-10%, so it’s not bothersome depending on where you have your Hub set up. You can then also add a delay of a few seconds, and have it turn back off.
Now in the Eve app you can create a new Automation. You can set the Aqara Hub Light (which is natively HomeKit compatible) turning on as the trigger. Add Brightness as a condition, so that it matches whatever brightness you set as the set brightness of the Cube gesture in the Aqara app.
You can then set the Eve automation to result in control of any of your Homekit devices.
At the moment you can’t get this to work with Alexa or Google Assistant, because their routines don’t have the option to have a device state as a trigger, but only sensors or commands.
All of this brings us to the golden question
Should you buy this?
You can buy it on Amazon for $19, which makes it pretty inexpensive, and it does work as advertised. But it’s definitely a niche product.
You already have to have an Aqara Hub, and Until HomeKit and others can natively support the Cube gestures, I would say only get this if you’re willing to tinker a bit to get it to work with the rest of your HomeKit home.