Back in the ’60s, home automation was the subject of sci-fi and cartoons such as The Jetsons. Yet, fast forward to 2020 and we can control almost every element of our homes from the mobile phones in our pockets.
Whether you’re using an Apple or Android device, there’s a whole world of apps at your fingertips, some of which we’ve shared below.
The best apps for home automation are:
- Smart Life by Tuya – One app for all your devices
- Alexa – Control your home with your voice
- Philips Hue – Create the perfect ambiance
- Google Home – Entertainment and appliance control in one
- Roomba – Automate your home cleaning
- HomeKit – For the Apple fans
- WebCoRe – An upgrade on the SmartThings app
- IFTTT – For the unusual automations
- Tasker – A cheaper alternative to IFTTT
- Home Assistant – For a smart home that doesn’t rely on the cloud
Best Apps for Home Automation
Below is some more information on each app, plus some helpful links to download them:
Smart Life by Tuya
Almost every smart home device seems to come with an app of its own these days, meaning your smartphone can become crowded with a seemingly infinite number of apps.
The Smart Life app is a great way to trim this down to a single, an integrated solution for managing and controlling all your smart devices. Most smart home devices will integrate by adding them to the app by scanning for it, some manufacturers are even recommending Smart Life as the default app.
Talking about features, you get compatibility with all the major smart voice assistance such as Google Home, Alexa, and Cortana.
Apart from that, there is automation, schedules, notifications, and real-time alerts, everything you’d expect from a smart home app.
The list of supported devices is endless, which includes the likes of air conditioners, lighting appliances, robot vacuum cleaners, amongst several hundred other support devices.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/smart-life-smart-living/id1115101477
The smart home controller by Amazon is for controlling Alexa- smart assistant enabled devices.
Alexa works best when used via Amazon’s Echo devices which are specifically designed for this purpose. However, over the years, Alexa has started appearing in many third-party devices, everything from rival speakers, to fridges and TVs.
The Alexa app is where you set up all your devices to work with Alexa. This includes creating routines and setting schedules. Plus, you can add extra skills to Alexa.
With Alexa skills, you can do more with smart appliances and add interesting features to Alexa herself. Whether you want your smart lights to dance to music or ask Alexa to start a quiz, there’s a skill for it.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/amazon-alexa/id944011620
Illuminating your home with a chain of smart lightning appliances adds an aesthetic flair to the overall beauty of the dwelling. However, managing them individually is a hectic task that almost everyone wants to avoid.
Philips Hue app lets you manage your Hue-supported range of lightning appliances. Play with over 16 million colours and organise lights for different rooms to match your mood. Pair Hue with any voice assistant and use your voice to control lighting.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the preset light recipes, such as Energize, Concentrate, Read, and Relax. When are you done for the day, set schedules for sleep routines to automatically dim the lighting.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/philips-hue/id1055281310
Android users will likely be familiar with the Home app. Control thousands of Google home compatible devices including smart speakers, lighting appliances, doorbells, and several hundred other things.
It’s not just your appliances, you can use Home to set up and manage your Chromecast or Android TV and add your Netflix or Spotify accounts.
Once you have added your devices in Google Home, you’ll be able to operate them via Google Assistant. Similar to Alexa, this assistant lives in phones, smart speakers and other third part devices.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/google-home/id680819774
Robot vacuums were one of the earliest examples of home automation, but they’ve come a long way since then with laser mapping, mopping and even some that empty themselves.
Roomba is synonymous with robot vacuums and still make the best ones on the market. If you have a Roomba, the iRobot Home app is an essential addition, allowing you to map your home, choose specific rooms to clean and even set a name for your vacuum to control it by voice.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/irobot-home/id1012014442
Apple’s Home app lets you control everything within their “Works with Apple HomeKit” ecosystem. While HomeKit itself is free, you’ll need compatible controllers to make the most of it.
The Home app is where you can set up and manage your HomeKit devices for a truly automated home. Once set up, you can use all of your Apple devices such as an iPad, HomePod, or an Apple TV to control your smart home remotely, and even via Siri with your voice.
Unfortunately, HomeKit is a much more closed ecosystem than others shared here, which is something we’ve come to expect from Apple. There is no equivalent for the Google Play store from Apple themselves, however the HomeBridge app is a great third party app that seeks to connect the two ecosystems.
Apple App Store: Preinstalled
Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem has been a popular choice among anyone looking to automate their home via Zigbee instead of WiFi.
The standard SmartThings app is recommend by Samsung, however speak to anyone who has bought in to their ecosystem and you’ll soon find out that many of the third party apps offer a better user experience, one of which being the WebCoRe app.
By adding pistons, the added scripts, you can add extra depth and functionality to your home, similar to those offered by Amazon through Alexa skills. Plus, you can create visual dashboards as a convenient way to control your automations.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/webcore/id1286878570
Automations are the forte of IFTTT. Virtually all major smart devices have integrated support for the If This, Then That automations.
With over 630 apps support, automate everything, adding an extra layer of smart to your devices. Automate the most usual and mundane task such as alerts, excel sheet macros, perform particular actions on a trigger, etc.
Login in to your IFTTT account and access the IFTTT recipes, applets that already exist in your library, implemented for another device.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ifttt/id660944635
In 2019, IFTTT started chasing for the £££ which is why Tasker is here to help you transition to a cheaper alternative.
Despite a slightly longer learning curve, Tasker ticks all the right boxes for typical automations, plus the ability to set up some of the more unusual ones.
There are over 350+ functions that can be performed with it, along with generic, repetitive tasks. To add further depth of automation, there are plugins to take it one step further. Unfortunately, this is only available on Android at the time of writing.
An open-source automation tool, Home Assistant, lets you take control of your home without burning a hole in your pocket. It’s the popular choice for anyone looking for a home automation solution that doesn’t rely on the cloud.
In order for the assistant to work, you will need a computer running at all times. The typical choice is to pair it with a Raspberry Pi which acts as a hub, this is why Home Assistant is usually preferred by those with a bit of technical know-how.
The single-board computer consumes an average of a watt per hour of electricity. Install and launch the Home Assistant to start making a closed network of your smart devices.
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/home-assistant/id1099568401