The convenience of your smartphone makes it easy to check your email and social media, play games and listen to music. However, recent developments would enable your device to do so much more. In fact, with a bit of work and a few smart investments, you can transform your phone or mobile device into a singular central hub for controlling nearly every aspect of your home. The home automation revolution has made it easier than ever to control all sorts of electronics, reduce your home energy usage and keep yourself and your family safe. To get started, let’s take a look at the top ten home connectivity apps and how they might make your life a little easier.
Have you recently upgraded to a new phone? Wondering what to do with that old, outdated device collecting dust somewhere in your closet? Transform it into a security camera! That’s the simple but effective idea behind the Presence app, which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Simply install the app on your unused phone and you can put the device’s camera to work as a remote video stream that you can access on the go. For enhanced functionality, the Presence app also integrates well with optional hardware including temperature, water and motion sensors, smart plugs and home thermostats.
Most people know Nest thanks to their excellent smart thermostats, but the Nest app can provide more than just home heating controls. The app ties together any Nest hardware you own, including smart thermostats, outdoor security cameras, indoor cameras and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You can view camera feeds remotely, adjust temperature settings and even view detailed information regarding your history of energy usage and security events. The app also plays well with other smart devices, from lights to washing machines to heaters.
Isn’t it nice to know what’s really going on in your home while you’re away? The makers of the Canary app think so. Available for both Android and iOS, as well as the Apple Watch, the Canary app works together with the Canary, a piece of all-in-one hardware aimed at giving you everything you need to keep an eye on your home. It features high-definition video that can be triggered by motion sensors and sent directly to your phone or mobile device, night vision functionality for low-light conditions and monitors that track the temperature, humidity and air quality inside your home. The app also gives you the power to set when and how you’d like the video capture to work, including a privacy mode that immediately disables all recording.
Samsung SmartThings Mobile App
The Samsung SmartThings app claims to allow you to “run your home from your phone,” and that’s a pretty apt description. Along with the smart hub, which is sold separately, the SmartThings app is capable of working with a very wide range of smart devices from dozens of manufacturers. Install a water sensor under your kitchen sink to automatically detect a leak. Stick multipurpose sensors on your doors and windows to instantly send you an alert when they’ve been opened. Connect a smart lock so that you can lock or unlock your doors while you’re away. You can even set schedules to turn lights on at a certain time in the morning, lock your doors at night or do whatever else you’d like.
Vivint Sky App
Another free app that requires the purchase of a smart hub, the Vivint Sky App gives you tremendous control over every aspect of your smart home. You can build your own package of smart devices and sensors to create exactly the experience you’re after, whether it’s smart cameras, locks, motion sensors and optional 24/7 home monitoring, a smart thermostat and controllable lighting or anything in between. Vivint Sky also offers voice command, making it easier than ever to take control over your home and everything in it.
Similar to the Presence app above, Alfred works by repurposing your old, outdated smartphones as high-tech security cameras. Simply install the app on your unused phones, mount or place them wherever you’d like and get ready to access high-quality video anywhere you go. The app supports an unlimited number of phone-turned-cameras, and you can even view multiple camera feeds at once. Motion detection is also available, and the app even features a walkie-talkie feature called two-way talk. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices and is compatible with most modern mobile devices.
Turning your old phone into a motion-detector-enabled camera is a useful feature, but you may not want to receive alerts every time there’s movement. The Manythings app addresses this problem with a set of innovative features, the most intriguing of which is the ability to pinpoint “detection zones.” These zones tell the camera where it should be looking for motion, allowing you to receive alerts only when an event occurs in the designated area. The app also allows you to access stored audio and video recordings, view the battery life of your camera device and choose whether to record constantly, use motion sensing or only capture still photos.
AtHome Camera App
Taking things to the next level, the AtHome Camera app, available for both Android and iOS, allows you to turn a whole assortment of devices into useful security cameras. This includes not only old smartphones and tablets, but also smart televisions, IP cameras, PC webcams and more, all of which can be accessed directly from the app on the go. You can set motion detection to trigger recording and send alerts to your email or push notifications, and the app supports simultaneous viewing of up to four different streams at once.
Though it’s currently only available for iOS devices, the Cambush app offers several useful features for turning your spare devices into security cameras. In addition to the standard fare of remote video access and motion detection, the app can also trigger a loud audible alarm upon detecting motion, it can sync recorded video to your Dropbox account for convenient access, and it provides adjustments for motion sensitivity, video quality and autofocus settings. Additionally, the app makes it easy to switch between front- and rear-facing cameras where available.
Google Home App
Recently announced as a replacement for the venerable Google Cast, Google Home seeks to do exactly what the name says: turn your house into a Google-powered home. The central piece of technology is the Google Home hub, which can connect to a wide variety of smart devices and is easily controlled with simple voice commands. The now-familiar “Okay Google” trigger returns, and it can be used to issue commands to everything from speakers to televisions to thermostats. The app builds on this functionality, putting many of the same controls at your fingertips even when you aren’t within speaking distance of the hub.
We all have an expectation that our home is a safe place, but that isn’t always true. Whether your concern lies with burglaries, fires, carbon monoxide buildup or potentially dangerous water leaks, there are many potential home-hazards lurking in the shadows. Fortunately, smart technology is making it easier and more convenient than ever to monitor and control every aspect of your home, and with these apps, you can do it right from the palm of your hand.