Over-the-air updates: what are they for your devices?

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Smart home appliances have been around for a few years now. While not all of the features they bring to the table are particularly useful – people don’t seem to be asking for the ability to start their dishwasher from their Tesla – they are generally quite useful, improved accessibility features to better diagnostics and troubleshooting.

One of the benefits of having a smart device, and one that isn’t particularly talked about frequently, is the ability to download over-the-air (OTA) updates.

What are live updates?

Credit: Whirpool / Revised

Over-the-air (OTA) updates allow your smart device to download new data throughout its lifespan.

OTA updates are enhancements to your device’s software or firmware that can be downloaded to any device with a Wi-Fi connection.

Bree Lemmen, kitchen brand manager at Whirlpool, describes how it works for Whirlpool smart appliances: “Once your appliance is connected, it automatically downloads updates and adds new cycles as they come. their exit. So you don’t need to physically install anything with a computer or external device.

If the smart platform keeps things updated automatically, the company will even make sure to do so at a convenient time. Lemmen explains, “If an update is available (and the appliance is not in use), it will download and install it automatically without requiring any intervention. You can also manually check if updates are available.

Why are OTA updates useful?

A person holding a tablet with a smart home app on the screen.

Credit: Getty Images / baloon111

Smart devices capable of receiving OTA updates will stay relevant longer than devices that don’t have wireless connectivity.

OTA updates are important because they can increase the overall longevity of your device. As manufacturers find new innovations or efficiencies as they develop new models, they are sometimes able to find improvements that may also apply retroactively to older products.

For example, let’s say Frigidaire invents a new technique to manage defrost cycles in its refrigerators that allows them to maintain more stable temperatures. With OTA updates, Frigidaire could potentially extend this functionality to every smart fridge that uses its smart platform, allowing your fridge to benefit from this company’s ongoing innovations.

As another example, let’s say LG is launching a new smart dishwasher. LG’s ThinQ smart platform specializes in collecting and using diagnostic data to help identify and eliminate problems quickly. As owners of the new dishwasher use it and LG accumulates diagnostic data, the company could potentially catch issues that didn’t surface during internal testing and then issue a fix for them. machines concerned.

The possibilities really start to spiral once you enter the cooking space. “OTA updates allow current Whirlpool smart appliances to become essentially smarter over time,” says Lemmen, “so consumers can adopt new cooking methods and change their preferences.”

This is especially true for Whirlpool’s smart appliances this year, as it recently launched its Smarter Over Time campaign, which has brought regular updates to the platform to reflect new cooking methods, recipes and techniques on Whirlpool Smart Ranges and Ovens.

Devices that grow with you

A person with a smart home app on their smartphone.

Credit: Getty Images/RossHelen

If you’re considering investing in a new appliance, the benefits of OTA updates may outweigh the cost of functionality.

Even if you’re not particularly sold on all the features offered by various smart platforms, the ability to download OTA updates puts smart devices in a really different category from their less smart counterparts.

The ability to upgrade over time helps smart devices stay more relevant for longer. Not only do OTA updates fix missed issues before they create problems, but they actually allow your device to improve its functionality over time which was not possible before.

If you’re shopping for a new device, you can see the smart features as an added safeguard: it helps ensure that your investment in that particular device will appreciate more over time than a similar product that lacks connectivity.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

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