Sync (Entertainment) on your phone or Android TV

What is Sync?

Sync is an Entertainment feature which syncs your screen / camera to your smart lights. You can use this on your phone, tablet, Android TV, or Amazon Fire TV.

What devices can be synced?

Hue Essentials can sync the following devices:

  • Android (screen and camera)
  • Android TV (screen)
  • Amazon Fire TV (screen)
  • iOS/iPadOS (camera)

What lights can I use?

You can use one of the following types of lights:

Philips Hue lights

You can use Philips Hue colour lights (richer colours are preferred). An example is to use Philips Hue Play Bars on your TV. The Philips Hue Gradient lightstrip works really good with multiple colours. You can also use other Philips Hue lights like the E27, E26 bulbs, and LED Strips.

We tried 10 Philips Hue Play Bars behind the TV and it looks excellent! See our Instagram for photos.

You can use up to ten Philips Hue lights in an entertainment area.

If your Hue lights have Bluetooth support you can connect them in Hue Essentials directly. For other Hue lights, you need a Philips Hue bridge as well (generation 2 which is the square model). The lights sync better with a Hue bridge than over Bluetooth.

LIFX lights

All LIFX colour lights are compatible in Hue Essentials. The LIFX Z LED strip and LIFX Beam support multiple colours.

diyHue lights

Lights connected through a diyHue emulator can be used with Sync. You can also make your own gradient lightstrip which connects through diyHue. See the following: Make your own gradient lightstrip with diyHue

Other lights

Other brands like Phoscon Gateway (RaspBee, ConBee) or Trådfri Gateway may be added later on. Please understand that other Zigbee brands, not using Philips Hue Entertainment, can hardly keep up to sync the screen to many lights. Less light changes and less lights may be the only solution.

Future brands we may introduce, like WiFi based Yeelight lights, may have better results than non-Philips Hue Zigbee lights.

What Android TV should I buy?

If you can afford it and and you are looking for a separate device, go for the best: The NVIDIA Shield TV (Pro). Devices by NVIDIA are known for excellent specs and long update cycles.

Alternatives are Mi TV (built-in Android TV), Sony TV with Android, Philips TV with Android.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K stick works as well.

Let us know in the comments what device works for you! We would love to hear from you about this.

Not working at this time (updates and workarounds may follow):

  • Mi Box S 4K (blocks content)
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube (blocks YouTube)
  • Google Chromecast with Google TV (kills RAM background apps, device not powerful enough for secondary screen; games work).

Where do I find Sync in Hue Essentials?

  1. Open Hue Essentials
  2. Go to the entertainment tab at the bottom (game controller icon)
  3. Tap Sync

How do I set up my lights with Sync?

You need to set up an entertainment area:

  1. Open Hue Essentials
  2. Go to the entertainment tab at the bottom (game controller icon)
  3. Tap Sync
  4. Tap the + button to add an entertainment area
  5. First select the lights you wish to use. Set the ticks in the boxes for the lights you wish to sync.
  6. After this you need to drag the lights to the right positions in your room. For instance, lights in your room which are on the left of your TV need to be placed on the left of your TV, etc. Lights above or below the TV need to be placed accordingly. You do this by tapping on that light, and you will see that there are three different heights: ground height, TV height, and ceiling height.
  7. Now tap save and your entertainment area is ready.

Why do my lights switch off when opening a film on Netflix, Disney, Prime Video, etc?

Some content in apps may be secure content, meaning the stream is not available to Hue Essentials. Sync cannot read the stream to determine how to sync the lights.

If an app developer like Netflix decides to secure its content, there is nothing we can do about this. The Philips Hue Sync app for your computer has the same issue. We are looking into ways to unlock this for you. An option we see and need to investigate further is to root the Android TV or phone/tablet and then use another app to disable the secure content. Another option is to alter the content app, like Netflix, and then remove the flag to secure the content. The last option looks the most difficult. The first option is something that has to be done outside of the Google Play Store as rooting a device may void its warranty. We may look into this in the near future as we have experience in this area from previous apps we offered. If you wish to assist in investigating this further, please contact us.
You can try it out your app before making an in-app-purchase. Apps like YouTube work.

Can you change the intensity of the lights?

Yes, you can change the intensity of the lights within Sync. See the intensity slider in Sync.

What can I do if my Android TV seems to stutter (lag) with the video or game?

Not all Android TV models are of the same hardware quality. Reducing 4K video to less helps on slower sets. We have tested several models. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV (Pro) seems the best to us. This is a little external device that connects on HDMI. You can plug this into your existing TV set just like a Blu-ray player and plays flawlessly.

What is the difference with the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box?

The box by Signify is a very good solution to sync your lights behind the TV. So, it cannot see apps directly on your Android TV, like your Sony TV or Mi TV with built-in Android TV. The Philips Hue box works by catching the passthrough signal on the HDMI.

Hue Essentials, on the other hand works directly on the Android TV device and requires no sync box. It reads the content of the apps and syncs this to your lights.

We may add the sync box to our app in the future if we see room for improvement.

Can I play games on my Android TV and sync lights?

Yes, sure. The NVIDIA Shield TV is a very good solution and it is our recommendation.

Could you play a game on your Android phone whilst syncing this to my lights?

Yes, you can! You can add your favourite lights to the entertainment zone in your game room and happy gaming!

Can I sync lights when I play a downloaded film from an app?

Yes, this is possible. Please understand that secure content or DRM can block signals. Try another film or app to check.

How do I set up a LIFX Z lightstrip for Sync?

The steps below assume you added your LIFX Z Lightstrip (with or without extensions) to the LIFX app first and then to Hue Essentials and you can control them in the app.

So, first you add all your LIFX lights to the official LIFX app. Register your account and keep note of this as you will need these credentials later in Hue Essentials.

You can now add the lights in Hue Essentials on the intro screen or through the + icon on the devices tab. Select + under ‘Devices’ to ‘Add device’. Select ‘Light’ and then choose ‘LIFX’. Confirm with ‘Done’. During these steps, you need to login to your LIFX account. If you skip this login, then only lights on the local network are found and remote functions will not work.

Sync requires Entertainment or Premium package.

Android TV: Tap on ‘screen setup’ within Sync in Hue Essentials. Select the screen size of your TV (32" until 85"). Alternatively, select ‘Custom’ if you are using a non-standard size (like a ultra-wide or computer screen), followed by ‘Width’ and ‘Height’.

After this you need to select the right ‘zone’ for each corner of your TV. Make sure your LIFX Lightstrip is connected and powered on. Select the correct zone in the first box for ‘Top Left’. Suppose you try 5. You will now see that zone 5 will light up red on the LIFX Lightstrip behind your TV. Change the number 5 to another number until it is the closest zone to this top left corner.

Now you can adjust the exact zone location using the ‘red’ slider for fine-tuning. Drag the red slider in Hue Essentials until the red zone in the preview in Hue Essentials matches the red zone position on your TV. Now your top left corner is set.

Repeat these steps for the other three corners. So, you select a number and change it to the closet match, followed by fine-tuning using the slider.

You can set only two corners of your light strip if the light strip does not reach all corners.

Now your Entertainment room is ready and you can choose this Entertainment room for your experience.

iOS: You can use your camera to sync the area.

Amazon links

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Got the app to run on my fire tv, only issue is it’s not the premium version, why is this? And how do I go about letting it know I have a premium account so I can fully test it’s capabilities?

@Icecold, we are finishing up on an Amazon release (on the official store) for which we expect approval within a day or so. Amazon Fire TV stick uses Amazon billing instead of Google Play. It is just like two different systems (just like Apple versus Google). Both Amazon and Google do not allow multiple payment methods, so it is a different APK with also some other code differences. Please be patient until release is there. Latest news on our Insta @HueEssentials. You will need premium on the Amazon as well. Contact us through with your order IDs for Amazon and Google. We will offer you a satisfactory solution. No worries.

App is now live on Amazon Appstore.

First of all: fantastic work with going live with the Synchronization option in HueEssentials!

It works perfectly on my Samsung Q75 TV, together with my Nvidia Shield TV, Hue Go’s and Playbars :blush:

But…I still want to keep my Hue Syncbox.
I know, it is not your goal to replace this box (I assume), but the Syncbox does sync with Netflix, Prime etc.

So, my question is: if it does work on hardware…why is their content secured for HueEssentials app and even their own app, but not their hardware? Is that exactly the case…because it is hardware?
Just wondering…

Any idea of having this available for Netflix and Prime etc. ?

Keep up the great work guys, I think it’s awesome what you’re doing as a team!!!

Super excited for what this will become, but right now as far as the fire tv experience, it legit works on nothing apart from menu’s… I take it the fire tv player is also drm protected?

I let me know if I’m incorrect. Is Hue Sync On for android devices?

Anything new going on with this as far as fire tv goes?

on the smartphone, it is sync compatible with the YouTube app. on an Androidbox (hardware is strong enough) not. where is the mistake.

1 Like

@Schoenchen Yes, that should work.

@Icecold Amazon firetv is supported. We are still working on updates.

Sync works on Android, Amazon, and iOS devices.

@dspilt I assume that the HDMI Sync box is allowed to use the DRM stream for passthrough and sends it protected to your TV.

unfortunately not, the lights go out when the YT video starts. Tested apps original YouTube app and YouTube advanced. In Firefox, for example, it works on the box.

What Android TV are you using?

I use an Androidbox, A95x F3 RGB.

Hi, I have installed this on my Fire Cube and it works on the menu’s but as soon as I try to play any video on any app, the lights turn off. I get that some content is protected, but nothing works. Is there a setting that I have missed?

Same problem here.
I figure out that in kodi for example when I turn off the Hardware acceleration the hue lamps sync perfectly.So I think its a hardware problem.

Thanks for this, certainly sorted for Kodi!!

That is interesting. Where did you turn off the hardware acceleration? Within Kodi or within developer options or so?