Oct 302016

Guest post by Emma.

Home automation technology has struggled to gain serious traction because, for all its promised convenience, the current tangle of cords and communication standards still has consumers in knots. New quote-unquote-smart systems have made huge strides recently, but not everyone has chosen invest – yet. Totally “smart” homes still await the mainstream. To unlock this new market, technology companies are looking to a tool we’ve taken to heart already: the smart mobile phone.

Not everyone has purchased a full fleet of smart home devices, but the number of smartphone users in the world has reached nearly two billion. Emerging smartphone apps which both control and augment smart home devices and systems are becoming more popular, indicating a broad future for automation in our everyday lives. As everything from entertainment to heating and appliances becomes more interconnected, our smartphones act increasingly as portals to the wider world.

With the smartphone as the central control point, several apps lead the way in pushing the concept of “what’s next” for home automation technology.


The free SmartThings app from Samsung ties all your home automation devices together into one platform. You’ll be able to control your lights, air conditioner, coffeemaker and other appliances right from the palm of your hand. You can even set up certain functions to take place without your manual intervention. You’ll need a $300 SmartThings Hub to make it all work, but the system as a whole is compatible with hardware from many other manufacturers. You can download SmartThings for iOS, watchOS, Android or Windows Phone.


Nest’s app interfaces with the firm’s cameras, alarms and thermostats to give you a fine level of control over them. You can manage two separate homes from a single instance of the app, and it supports dozens of pieces of hardware in each home. You can set up as many as 10 user accounts to allow your family members to use the app. It’s available for Android devices, iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches, and you can also access it through any modern web browser.

Vivint Sky

As one of the most popular providers of integrated smarthome solutions, Vivint is clearly interested in making its systems as easy to use as possible. Vivint’s Sky App accomplishes this goal by allowing users to adjust the settings of their equipment with their cell phones. Homeowners can even view footage from any cameras that are installed, which helps set their minds at ease if they’re at work or traveling. There’s a downloadable Sky app for iOS and Android, but those with other operating systems can use the Vivint Sky web page instead.


Insteon’s versatile hub costs just around $80, and you’ll be able to direct it using a free app for iOS, watchOS, Android and Windows Phone. What sets this app apart is the fact that it offers almost unparalleled power to configure and manipulate individual devices in your smarthome. Rotate your cameras around, set up lighting scenes for later use and customize any Insteon Wall Keypads that you have in your house to enhance their functionality.

Apple Home

The Apple Home app is a long-awaited improvement to the HomeKit interface that actually makes it convenient for end users. You can group your devices by room, set up scenes that consist of preset actions or settings and access each compatible product from within a single program. Apple Home’s biggest selling point is the fact that it works with products from more than a dozen vendors. Sorry Android fans – Apple Home is only for iOS and watchOS.

Wink Relay

The Wink Relay attaches to your wall in place of a light switch and acts as a control center for all your smart devices. Using the included app for iOS, Android and watchOS platforms, you can manage your automated systems and even program them to perform certain actions with IFTTT rules. The Wink is compatible with merchandise from some of the top brands in the industry, like Philips, Honeywell, Lutron and GE.

Connected home devices capable of delivering the versatility and responsiveness that’s expected of them are finally making their way towards the horizon. While most efforts have focused on Android and iOS, there are a few systems that employ Linux too. By harnessing the processing horsepower of sophisticated smartphone technology, these machines expand their own capabilities and allow for seamless interaction with each other and with the user.

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