Design is to the forefront of Hive's new smart home products. The dull white plastic thermostat has been replaced by the smaller, sleeker metallic Hive 2 with a mirror finish.
The new British Gas-owned Hive 2 thermostat looks every bit as good as the polished Google Nest, thanks largely to a collaboration with designer Yves Béhar, who was responsible for Jawbone's Jambox and the Ouya gaming console's fame.
On top of the Hive Active Heating 2 (to give it its full name) thermostat, British Gas is releasing smart plugs, multiple motion sensors and smart lightbulbs.
Like it's predecessor and rivals, the Hive 2 allows you to control the heating and hot water in your home manually or via an Android or iOS app. The simple, good-ooking product is designed to appeal to the Hive's existing customer base, which is not necessarily too tech savvy. Instead of a touchscreen there is a dial and three buttons which operate the LED display behind the mirror finish. The design makes it very easy to use and the display prompts you through each step, allowing you to set a daily or weekly heating schedule in just a few presses.
It's not just the looks that have improved, though - the Hive 2 offers a few new features like the ability to program three heating zones, a holiday mode and a boost feature. The popular boost button, which was previously only available for hot water, gives the home an extra blast of heat for up to six hours. A frost-protection feature will automatically activate when the heating is off and the indoor temperature drops below 7 degrees centigrade (44 Fahrenheit) to prevent pipes from freezing.
As with any tech design these days, the Hive 2 also comes with accessories. Owners can customize their thermostat with a range of 12 colored frames thanks to a partnership with Dulux paint. The Hive Active Heating 2 costs £249 (about $389 USD) or £99 (about $155) to upgrade from the Hive 1.
Hive also announced a range of other smart home products, but they will not be available until the fall. The "Active Plugs" allow you allow you to schedule and switch wall sockets on-and-off from your phone. The Hive Motion Sensor is a small, wireless infrared cube that detects movement in your home and alerts you through your smartphone. There are also sensors which will alert you when a window or door is opened. Lastly, Hive announced "Active Lights." The smart lightbulbs will be controllable through your phone, but weren't unveiled yet as the design is still being finalized.