With the latest generation especially, game consoles are becoming more rounded entertainment hubs. No longer just about gaming, these boxes are vying to be our go-to devices for movies and television too. Theyâre even becoming part of the smart home.
In fact, the Xbox One serves as a pretty efficient smart home hub, thanks to its Cortana integration and the Home Remote app on the Xbox Store, which comes with Alexa integration of its own. Sonyâs PS4 is sadly a little lazier in this department, but there are ways to integrate it into your smart home, allowing you to control the console and have it synced up with other devices like lights and speakers.
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Sadly Sony has put up some barriers that stop the PS4 being more harmonious with the home, but below weâll show you how you can use Logitechâs Harmony hub, Alexa, Google Home (and even a sprinkle of IFTTT magic if you like) to pull off a few cool tricks with your PS4.
Set up the PS4 with Logitech Harmony
Right now, the most straightforward route to connecting the PS4 to other smart home devices is via Logitechâs Harmony hub. The hub costs ÂŁ99.99 alone, or a bit more if you want a controller too. Otherwise, you can control everything using the Harmony app on your smartphone.
Setting up the hub is pretty straightforward â the app will walk you through everything â but youâll want to keep it nearby your PS4. If you have a smart TV, weâd recommend pairing that when it prompts you to search for Wi-Fi devices, as you can sync this up with the PS4.
When the hub is connected to your Wi-Fi network and youâve paired it with your other smart devices, youâll need to add the PS4 manually via Bluetooth, as it wonât be able to pick up your console over the Wi-Fi.
To do this, youâll need to do the following:
1) In the app menu, go to Devices.
2) Tap Edit Devices, then hit + Device to add a new one.
3) From the selection that appears, you want to tap Entertainment Device.
4) Under manufacturer name, put Sony.
5) For the model number, you can just type in "PlayStation 4". No need to fish out the exact model number, unless "PlayStation 4" doesnât work for any reason.
6) Hit Add, acknowledge the notes and then, voila, the first part is done.
It will then ask you if you want to set up an activity using the PS4, which can add in other devices that are connected to the hub. You can do this later by building an activity from the home screen, otherwise hit Yes.
1) Youâll then be prompted to set up your activity by selecting the devices you want to control. Donât worry, you can add more later.
2) Once youâve chosen your inputs, turn on the PS4.
3) Head to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth Settings
4) Search for "Harmony Keyboard" on the list and select it. If it doesnât show up, try pushing the pairing button on the back of the hub.
Done that? Great. You should now be set up. The app will give you a test run so you can make sure everythingâs talking to one another.
Now, before we get onto further automations, the bad news is that Sony prevents third-party devices from switching on the PS4. This means that youâll need to switch on the PS4 manually each time, either with the PlayStation DualShock controller, a PS4 remote or on the console itself, though the Harmony hub can switch the PS4 off and control media playback.
All that said, there is another way, but itâs not a guarantee. You may have heard of something called HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), which is a way for devices to control your TV via HDMI. This feature is available on a lot of modern TVs, but not on every model. Enabling it, however, may allow the Harmony hub to switch on the PS4 â it worked for us. Youâll need to enable it on the PS4 by heading to Settings > System and hitting âEnable HDMI Device Linkâ. Yes, to confuse matters Sony doesnât even call it HDMI-CEC, but we promise you thatâs what it is.
How to build a PS4 Activity
Like other smart home platforms, the Harmony hub lets you build routines â or âactivitiesâ, as theyâre called here. This means you can set up a specific routine for when itâs time for a bit of Gran Turismo. For example, we have an Activity that powers on the TV, switches to the PS4 HDMI port and dims our Philips Hue lights when we tap the âPlay PS4â button in the app. You could also include a soundbar in that, or other speakers, that come on at the same time.
The Harmony app lets you set an âEnd sequenceâ too, and this doesnât just have to be the same routine in reverse. In our case, we have it so that it turns everything off, including the lights, as we tend to play the PS4 before bed. And while turning on the PS4 has to be done manually, you can automate it so that the Harmony hub puts the PS4 on standby when you activate the end sequence.
You can even create a schedule so that everything turns on or off at a certain time of day, on select days of the week.
How to control the PS4 with Alexa and Google Home
Because the Harmony hub works with Alexa and Google Assistant, you can use your smart speakers to do everything mentioned above, but without lifting a finger. Youâll need to enable the Harmony skill for Alexa, and likewise connect your Google Assistant to the Harmony action, both of which will prompt you to authorize your Logitech account.
Alexa and Google Assistant will be able to read all of the activities and devices linked to your account, so you can try saying, âAlexa, turn on PS4â or âOk Google, tell Harmony to turn on PS4â. Yeah, the Google route is a bit more wordy, but the results are just the same. Remember you can rename these, so if you want you can change it so instead of saying âAlexa, turn off living roomâ you say âAlexa, turn off elephantâ. If thatâs your thing.
And try getting creative. Mess around with Harmony activities to tweak the perfect setup, like having the TV raise the volume when you switch to the PS4.