Frequently Asked Questions

The Clock is really large. Can I replace the clock? Have you thought about a smaller, digital clock?

The short answer: Yes, that’s on the Roadmap.

Long answer: Wallflower is built as a modular system, and in the 1.x versions it ships with with two modules: Room Control and Clock. There’s a very long list of other potential modules and while I can’t tell more, be assured that there’ll be more modules in some later version. To be expandable, the Home module should not consume more than half the screen space. So what might look like a waste of space to you now, is probably something you’ll be very happy about in the future.

Even longer answer: One of the thoughts that led to Wallflower was the question what it would look like if Apple made a wall clock instead of a watch. With the iPad, the hardware for this already exists, it just lacks software. So the clock is a central part of the app. And while “it tells the time” is not the most fancy Apple watch feature, it is actually among of the most useful. This is as true for Wallflower. And it probably beats most regular wall clocks in accuracy…

It’s cool that you show one room (or zone), but what if I want to see what’s up elesewhere?

There’s two ways to do that: First, you can show the whole house, but I only recommend that for very small installations – in a real smart home that’s too much information for one screen. The second option is to swipe between rooms or use the room selector icon. After some time of inactivity, Wallflower will automatically switch back its main room.

The functionality in this module is about Room Control. But what about a different module that can be more configurable? Hm, good idea, actually, now that you say it… ;-)

Can you recommend a wall mount?

There’s plenty of wall mounts for iPads for very different needs. Even wall mounts for the iPod touch exist. They range from simple frames and docks to sophisticated glass gizmos with integrated keypads that are embedded into the wall and protect your iPad from theft.

However we can recommend a budget option that’s super cheap, invisible, reliable and leaves no trace on neither the wall or the device (it doesn’t use glue): Reboon PowerPads Black with Velcro fit every device type or size, and you can remove them easily. (This is really not an ad. We just like the product. And you asked.)

Also, Anker has some nice new angled cables for USB-C and Lightning iPads. If you mount the iPad in a way that has the power supply behind them, this is an elegant way to get the power to the device.

How can I make sure Wallflower stays in front? Can I deactivate the home button?

First, the screen stays on automatically as long as Wallflower runs, you don’t need to do anything to enable that. Then, there are 3 ways ways to further lock your device into Wallflower:

  1. Guided Access: Available in System Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. When this settig is activated, start Wallflower, press the home button three times (on newer devices: the side button) and set a code. With this code you can exit the app, too and use your device normally. If the app crashes or if the device is powered down, you are automatically out of guided access mode and need to reactivate it.

  2. Single-App-Mode with the Apple Configurator: The Apple Configurator 2 allows you to select an app on an iOS device that keeps running no matter what happens: It’s restarted when it crashes or when the device powers on, and all buttons including home and power buttons can be deactivated. This is highly recommended for public devices, and the best way to prevent access to the password in Wallflowers Settings if you chose to use that option.

  3. Single-App-Mode with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system: This is a great option for corporate users. The features are basically the same as using Apple Configurator, but you can control and update everything from afar. There’s plenty of them available, and while we don’t recommend a specific one since every user has different needs, we do higly suggest having a closer look at them.

How does Wallflower protect its settings?

We think that on a public device the settings should be protected from unauthorized tinkering. So if the settings are open for a while, they are automatically closed after some time of inactivity. And Wallflower uses Touch ID or Face ID where available to prevent access to its settings. If you don’t want to use biometric authentication, then just deny the permission – the settings are then freely available. As an additional option you can set a password which is easier to share in your family or organization than biometry. However, for all those options to be effective you should consider locking your device into the Wallflower app – see above.

Do you really support my old device? Is there a catch?

If it runs iOS 9, it is supported. That includes all iPads except the very first one, the iPhones back to the iPhone 4s, and not just the “current” iPod touch but the one before that, too.

However, there is a catch: While a lot of effort is put into optimization, very old devices might be slow. Large smart home setups are better handled by newer devices. And even in software, there have been huge improvements between iOS 9 and the present, and especialy iOS 12 added a lot of speed to older devices that Wallflower is very happy about. And theres the things iOS 9 just can’t do: Remote access in HomeKit, runtime loading of fonts (that’s why iOS 9 only has the standard theme), and others. Many features are available on all systems, but it makes sense to draw a line where it gets too hard to implement them.

Long story short: We recommend using an iOS 13 capable device when available, but if you have an iOS device lying around in a drawer, feel free to try it out, and if if fits your needs, use it!

Do you really use the camera? How does it work? And what if I don’t want that?

Wallflower uses the camera for two things: Seeing if the room is dark and if the device is being looked at. The latter is for detecting attention and adding interactive elements or lighting up the background before you even touch the screen. Because when you look at Wallflower from afar, you don’t need these elements to clutter the screen. One thing though: If you put Wallflower on the opposite wall of that huge oil portrait of your great grand uncle, it might detect a face all the time. This feature won’t work correctly then. :-)

For all that it uses the cameras metadata. The image itself is not used by the app, nor is it recorded or sent – it is immediately discarded and not touched by app code. Actually, the metadata, which includes face detection and lumiosity, is generated in hardware besides the CPU – its the data the camera needs to adjust focus and aperture. So this feature doesn’t even have a measurable performance impact and even works well on really old devices.

All camera usage is completely opt-in and of course you can deny camera access and the app still works – just without these features. It’s up to you.

I have warnings about too high humidity, too low temperature, etc… How can I turn it off?

Those warnings are dependent on the room type: A bathroom has different warning levels for humidity than a bedroom or a balcony. If you change the room type, the warning levels will be changed.

In addition to that we are considering to have make the warning levels custom per room in a future version. We shipped 1.0 without that since the feature is not trivial: In a zone we unify the humidity graphs of different rooms if there are multiple humidity sensors for example. If the room types come with different warning levels, the app draws two distinct grahps instead. If you live in a region where you’re always in the warning zone: Tell us, we’re interested to learn more.

Where’s the Android version?

Apple’s HomeKit has nice APIs for Apps like Wallflower, the OS is flexible and powerful, devices are easy to come by even after years, they are relatively cheap (well, iPads…), older devices are still well supported and there is a huge ecosystem of accessories and wallmounts. It is highly unlikely we can build an app like Wallflower on a different platform than iOS.

Wallflower on the AppleTV would be cool.

We think so, too.

Really, no tracking? Not even a little bit?

Really.

Almost all code is by us or comes with iOS. All other code we used (Version 1.0: OpenSSL and Receigen, both for App Store Receipt validation) we picked because we know it’s not doing weird things behind our back, and we list it in the “About” section of the app. There are no frameworks that phone home. We believe in learning from user feedback, not from tracking data.

Will Wallflower kill my iPad’s battery?

If your iPad runs iOS 11.3 or higher, that’s not an issue at all. That covers iPad Mini 2, iPad 5th gen, and the original iPad Air, as well as everything newer. On these devices the maximum charge is automatically reduced once iOS detects that it’s permanently on a charger. It’s still displayed as 100%, but in reality the battery is being mintained at an optimal charging level for storage. Here’s more details. In our own limited test, running even older iPads 24/7 worked well, too. But those old iPads were’nt needing their batteries anyways, as they were used as “wall only” devices…

Woah, that’s a pricey app! Can’t it be cheaper?

When we decided to make Wallflower, it was clear that this can’t be a hobby project, it has to generate revenue. We don’t want to do it with advertising, and we don’t want to collect any data – we strongly believe that your home is a private space. We like the old-school “indie developer” business model, where the user direcly pays for the app. We don’t want to take up Venture Capital either – this shouldn’t be a growth focused operation, we don’t want to have to compromise on our users needs for the sake of making a stakeholder happy. And we don’t want Wallflower to be one of those apps that start well and then disappear ecause it wasn’t worth it to develop them further. And there’s 2 years of work in version 1.0 alone, so yeah – all this has a price.

Other developers usually love to compare a price like this to one coffee per month. We like to compare it to the price of one a smart light switch per year. With that you support the contiuous development of an app you see and use every day. And we have plenty of ideas for features we want to add in the future.

Sure, but does it have to be a subscription? I want to pay once and be done with it!

The reality of making an app is that in addition to adding new features, the underlying system is a moving target. As much as we’d like to “charge money once and never again”, we would need to combine it with “do the work once and never again” – and that’s not what we want, and we think it’s not what the users want either. Even in a model, where we charge for updates from time to time and keep the old versions around for people who don’t want the updates, we’d need to support multiple versions in parallel. That’s even more expensive to do.

But I really don’t like subscriptions!

We know. We think an app requiring a subsription should be an app that you see and use every day, not an app on the 3rd page of your home screen that you forget about after a week. If that’s our app: Don’t pay. But if you put Wallflower on the wall, have it on all day and use it in your daily life, we think it’s worth it.

We let you see and configure everything without a subscription, so you can see if it fits your needs. We have a 14 day trial period, so you can try everything without risk. We are very transparent about the subscription, don’t trick you into anything and make the cancelation of the subscription really obvious.

I have a question that isn’t answered here!

No problem! Just send me a mail to hello@nxtbgthng.com. If your question gets asked more frequently, I’ll add it here, too. Thanks!