Flic Wireless Smart Button Hands-On ReviewBy - 06/26/2017
Flic’s held my attention for almost a year. In theory, it looks useful and fun. In reality, reviewers have advised to,
Think twice before buying.
Saying that Flic,
Sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.
With others sharing that the button stopped working after awhile or that it only occasionally executes its task and with $5 hackable Amazon Dash buttons readily available on Amazon and other similar devices like Logitech Pop offering an alternative, Flic may have missed its chance. But after almost a year of working through kinks, Flic should now be perfect. Right?
What Is Flic?
Flic is a round, wireless button about an inch in diameter. Its primary purpose is to control smart home devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Originally, it did that by connecting to your phone using Bluetooth Low Energy and then allowing you to control your devices via the Flic app. However, a year after I originally wrote this review, Flic launched a second product, the Flic Hub, which will supposedly eliminate the need to use a smartphone. More on the Flic Hub later. Back to Flic. The Flic button has three trigger actions: click, double-click, and hold. You can assign one or more tasks to each trigger action using the Flic App. You can also connect up to eight buttons to your smartphone or up to sixty buttons to the Flic Hub.
There are more than a few ways to use Flic. For example, you can make it an emergency button that sends a message to your family and friends if you need help. If you’re a selfie person, you can make it your smartphone’s shutter button. If you enjoy listening to music, you can make it the physical control for your Spotify playlist. It can also connect and control apps like Jawbone, Runkeeper, and IFTTT. And of course, you can use it to control your Harmony Hub, LIFX lights, Philips Hue, Sonos, and WeMo devices. If you own the Flic IR Blaster accessory, you can also use it to control your TV or other IR devices.
Setting Up Flic
DISCLAIMER: I’ve only used Flic with the Flic smartphone app, not the Flic Hub. I have no hands-on experience with the Flic Hub nor do I have any plans to buy it.
Flic’s setup is pretty simple and straightforward. First, you’ll need a smartphone or tablet that has Bluetooth and runs at least Android 4.4 or iOS 8.1. Second, you’ll need to download the Flic App and log in with a Flic account. Once you’re in, you are now ready to connect your Flic button to your smartphone.
Downloading the app and logging in was, of course, elementary. What gave me a headache was connecting Flic to my iPad Air. The instructions were simple. Tap the + button on the lower righthand corner of the app then click your Flic. I did. And though I had the two devices sitting side-by-side, I was plagued by an error, “Make sure your Flic is within reach when you click it.” It wasn’t until I restarted my iPad that Flic connected. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty confident it wasn’t my fault.
With Flic connected, my next step was to set tasks for each trigger action. Simply tap on the icon of the Flic you want to customize, and you will then choose between Click, Double Click, and Hold. The button will perform different tasks based on how you interact with it. I decided to keep it simple by assigning each action a task tied back to my iPad.
- Click: If I click Flic, it will simulate a home button press.
- Double-Click: If I double click Flic, it will activate Siri.
- Click & Hold: If I click and hold the button, it will lock my iPad screen.
Using Flic With The Flic Hub
Setting up Flic with the Flic Hub also requires a smartphone, but once setup, you can ditch your phone. To get started, simply follow the instructions provided in the app.
There are a few things to keep in mind, however. One, the Hub can connect with Flics from up to 100ft. away. Two, the range can be affected by your home’s construction (e.g. walls). Three, each Hub can connect with up to sixty Flics.
Additionally, you need to connect the Hub to your Wi-Fi network so that it can control your Wi-Fi devices.
Once connected, you can assign tasks to your Flics. This is also done using your smartphone.
My Experience Using Flic With My iPad
Initially, Flic appeared to work fine. I pressed, clicked, and held, and Flic did what I asked it to do, less a 3-second delay. But my success was short lived.
Confident that Flic was working as intended, I set out to integrate it into my everyday life. Hours later, I grabbed Flic, clicked it twice, and waited for Siri’s wisdom. Three seconds passed, five, ten, nothing. Grabbing my iPad, I headed straight for the Flic app. I checked Bluetooth; it was on. I checked Flic; it was properly connected. So I repeated the process. I grabbed Flic, clicked it twice, and to my surprise, Siri responded.
Not satisfied with my inconsistent results, I decided to check out Flic’s FAQ page. In reading, I found that Flic doesn’t work in all instances. For iOS devices, the Flic App must be running in the background for it to work. When I manually closed all background apps, I rendered Flic useless. Requiring an app to run in the background is silly and not reasonable. But when I left it running, things went well. I even tried giving Flic multiple tasks in one trigger, and it successfully performed.
How Will The Flic Hub Improve Flic’s Functionality?
The bump I encountered while using Flic should be solved by the Flic Hub. Adding the Flic Hub to your home network will eliminate the need to keep the Flic app running in the background. In fact, it will let your family members use Flic even without the presence of your smartphone, helpful to those who don’t own smartphones (e.g. young kids, senior parents).
Another advantage of using Flic Hub is that it will supposedly preserve your Flic’s battery for up to 3 years vs. 18 months when used with your smartphone.
There’s also a new feature that will let you control IR devices, such as televisions. Activating this feature requires that you buy the Flic IR Blaster, a round-shaped device similar to Flic but with a long wire that connects to the Flic Hub. Here’s the thing: If using an IR blaster, you need to keep it within line-of-sight of the device you’re controlling.
Finally, the Flic Hub will make way for a HomeKit integration. The integration is not yet active as of the moment, but the Flic team has mentioned that it’s on their roadmap.
If you’re an existing Flic user, don’t worry about starting up and setting tasks for each Flic all over again. So long as you use the same login account, your current settings will automatically transfer to the Hub. Unfortunately, the Hub doesn’t support phone-specific functions, such as using Flic as your phone’s camera shutter, sending text messages, or ending calls. If you want to keep using your phone-based tasks, you’ll need to keep Flic connected to your smartphone, not your hub.
Flic + IFTTT
You may own smart home devices that the Flic App can’t control directly, like Nest products. Lucky for you, Flic has an IFTTT channel you can use to control these devices.
One difference between using IFTTT and the Flic App is that IFTTT-triggered tasks take a little longer to respond than those triggered by the Flic App directly. In my experience, the delay when using IFTTT with Flic is around 5 seconds, depending on the task.
To setup Flic on IFTTT, you first need to launch the Flic app and set “Trigger IFTTT” as the task for your chosen trigger action. When done, go to the IFTTT app and start creating recipes. Here’s how:
- Toggle the button on the upper right side of the screen from Browse to Manage.
- Tap on the + button.
- Select Flic as the trigger action (IF).
- Select “Flic is clicked”.
- Choose the name of the Flic you will use.
- Choose which trigger action you will use (Click, Double-Click, Hold, Any) and click next.
- Select a task (THEN).
I had such high hopes for Flic, but I was a little disappointed when I used it. First, the Flic app needs to run constantly for Flic to function = lame. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a habit of closing all apps manually. Second, it only connects to smartphones and tablets; it doesn’t directly connect to smart home devices. What would happen if, let’s say, you want to use Flic to control your Philips Hue, but your smartphone is out of Bluetooth range? Kind of a bummer, right? And finally, the Flic App is still buggy. I wouldn’t trust it in an emergency situation, and I don’t recommend that you use it for home security.
The Flic Hub solves two of my Flic concerns: It lets you use Flic without the app and without a smartphone. However, it doesn’t address my last concern. Flic is buggy. Even now, one year after writing the original review, Flic still has challenges.
Do I recommend that you buy Flic? No. But if you still want to give it a go, you can buy one for $34.99 or a set of four for $99.99. The Flic Hub and IR Blaster are not yet available, but you can pre-order them via IndieGoGo. The Flic Hub costs $69 (MSRP $100). The IR Blaster sells for $15 (MSRP $20). You can also pre-order sets that include the Hub and Flic buttons or IR Blaster starting at $79.