This Philips Hue and Spotify feature makes color-changing smart bulbs a must-have

Philips Hue smart light bulbs illuminating blue in a lounge
(Image credit: Philips)

Smart lights not only let you brighten and dim your home lighting from your smartphone, they can also be used to create the perfect ambiance. By changing the tone of white or the color the bulb illuminates you can create everything from a warm cozy atmosphere to a more striking lighting effect great for parties. 

Now Philips Hue wants you to go one step further by allowing your smart lights to flash, dim, brighten, and change color to suit the beat, mood, genre, and tempo, through a partnership with Spotify. Until now, Hue lights have only been able to flash in time to the beat, and that was only with the help of third-party apps such as Huegasm. 

At the same time, Philips also announced an array of new smart bulbs, lamps, and ceiling pendants including offering a White Ambience version of its Filament range of bulbs so the tones can be changed from cool to warm. Something these stylish, retro-looking bulbs haven’t been able to do before. 

More than just beat matching 

Smart lights are one of the more affordable smart home devices, and as you simply need to replace your existing bulbs with smart versions, they’re one of the easiest to install too. So it comes as no surprise that market research firm Statista estimates the smart lighting market will be worth $105.2bn by 2023 - up from ‘just’ $8.68 billion in 2018.

There’s no denying the ability to control lighting from your smartphone makes life easier but while I’m a fan of adjusting the tone of white a smart bulb glows throughout the day in sync with the natural light, I’ve always seen the millions of colors offered by bulbs as a bit of a gimmick. I prefer sleek, stylish and somewhat ‘grown-up’ home decor, so I’ve never been interested in illuminating my home in garish colors. 

However the new Philips Hue and Spotify integration may have just changed that for me, as being able to have my home lighting change color in time to the music playing would be the perfect fit for a party...and after being unable to see friends and family during the pandemic, I definitely plan on hosting a soiree or two. 

According to Philips, an algorithm analyses the metadata of each song in real-time to create a lighting script that suits the track, including the genre and mood created by the music. This is a step-up from a similar feature offered by LIFX smart bulbs. Known as Visualiser, the function can adjust the color and brightness of the bulb in time to the beat of the song but doesn’t take into account the genre or mood the music creates, unlike the new Philips Hue feature. 

We’re also impressed the feature doesn’t require Spotify Premium to be enabled, it will work with the free version too, providing a Hue Bridge - a hub that connects to the router in the home the lights are installed in - is being used with the lights. 

Philips Hue also offers some customization over the feature too - so you can choose the color palette if you’d prefer, and even set a limit on the brightness and intensity of the lights when they’re creating these effects in time to the music. 

In our eyes, this really takes syncing your lighting and music to the next level, and will certainly make more smart bulbs owners consider using the color-changing function. We look forward to seeing how LIFX and other rival smart bulb brands react to this game-changing feature. 

Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.