We love our smart phones, tablets, and laptops, and it’s amazing to think how things have changed - and continue to change - in a relatively short time. One area of our lives that has been on the cusp of a breakthrough in personal technology is home automation. We have come to the point where you can control many parts of your home with the touch of your fingertips on a smartphone app. Technology has advanced so much that you can lock and unlock your doors with the swipe of your phone, control the thermostat when you’re away, and turn on your security system if you forgot to set it before you left the home. Although the holy grail of a seamlessly integrated and networked home has not quite arrived, there have been some really eye-opening advances in device control. With Apple's recently announced HomeKit and Google's Nest vying for app and device developer's attention, many tech pundits see a ground-shifting breakthrough just around the corner. In the mean time, here are 5 savvy home control apps to whet your appetite.
Whether you forgot to switch your thermostat to “Away” mode or you’re cozy in bed and want to turn up the heat a bit, the Nest system makes is easy to control your thermostat. A Nest Learning Thermostat will run you around $250, but with the free app, you can turn it on or off, change the temperature, and even set a schedule that works best for you. The thermostat communicates through your WiFi which means you can control it from virtually anywhere.
Ever wish you could disarm your alarm system while sitting in your driveway? Or check on your dog while you’re at work? Alarm.com's iPhone app lets you do all that and more and is free for Alarm.com customers.
This app allows you to arm or disarm your security system from anywhere, which can prove handy if you’re about to board a plane and realize you didn’t set the alarm. It also has plenty of monitoring tools, allowing you to check on doors and windows, watch live and recorded feeds, and review “event histories” like what time your kids arrived home from school or what time a contractor left your home.
WeMo provides a suite of easy-to-use products for you to control your home electronics, power, water, and Wi-Fi right from your phone. You can monitor energy use, control lighting, check on pets or children with connected net cams, or even get your dinner started with their Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker!
4. Philips Hue
Take your lighting to the next level with Philips Hue. Want to do more than just turn your lights on and off? With their home lighting system, you can control every light in your house down to its color, saturation, and brightness as long as they are connected to Philips’ sockets. The app comes with 17 pre-loaded "scenes," each a colorful image with a trio of pins that sample the underlying color and adjust each bulb's output and brightness accordingly. You can also create your own custom scenes.
No more fumbling for your keys. Open your front door with your phone right in your pocket. With this app you can give access to the maid, contractor, or babysitter and you can specify dates and timeframes when they may enter your home. They assure you that their encrypted locking technology is safer than keys that can get lost or codes that can be copied. You can also view a log of who has entered and exited and when.