Smart Home devices with two-step process for joining the WiFi LAN

  • We just purchased a new LG washer/dryer pair equipped with their "ThinQ" WiFi access. The steps needed to get them on our LAN were new to me. First, I opened <Settings/WiFi> on my phone, then pressed a "WiFi virtual button on the washing machine's control panel. Within a few seconds, a new 2.4 GHZ SSID appeared with a name containing "LG ThinQ Washer" or something like that, followed by a unique set of alphanumeric characters. Once I selected that SSID in my phone's WiFi preferences, the ThinQ app gave me an opportunity to scan the washer's QR codes (I spent probably 5 minutes cursing as I tried to scan the WRONG QR code, but eventually I tumbled to the possibility that I should look elsewhere on the appliance, and eventually I found another. Once I did THAT, the ThinQ app thanked me and asked me to join my washer to my standard home WiFi network (which, of course, required me enter my "multiple long words" WiFi password. Once that was done, the washer joined my WiFi network, but the AmpliFi app has no clue what type of device it is. In "Device Details," one (JUST one) of the two members of the pair is recognized as being made by LG, but the App is not able to assign it an icon or identify it as a washer or dryer.

    This method of joining a LAN is new to me. Is the two step process (first a private connection between the appliance and my mobile phone, and only then a connection to my Alien Router mediated by my phone) a security feature, or is it just the washer manufacturer just being cheap about the capabilities of its embedded WiFi chip, or is it something else altogether.

    Trying to sort this out has led me into some pretty tall weeds. For example, I discovered that the AmpliFi iOS app doesn't recognize my phone by its MAC address but is still able to supply it with the correct iPhone icon. That seems to be a result of an Apple security feature whereby my phone has been assigned a custom, private MAC address. That makes me wonder how the Alien still "knows" that it's an iPhone.

    On one of my Apple ecosystem email listserv, I've learned that several other 2.4 GHz-limited "smart devices" use this mechanism to join WiFi networks. Examples have ranged from water heaters to "smart" mouse and rat traps.

    That leads me to wonder WHY my new washer and dryer use this method for establishing LAN and internet access.

    Thanks so much.

    Oh, and one more question: once I HAVE sorted out just what device I'm investigating in the iOS app, I can change its common name on my LAN in "Client Details" but that all the datafields under "ADVANCED" are read-only.

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