Browse the app store, and you’ll find the best smart app for every home owner, though most people don’t have the phone storage for them all. Homeownership is among the most time-consuming endeavors anyone can take on.
A never-ending list of bill due dates, scheduling home maintenance, and tedious to-dos is enough to leave a new homeowner’s head spinning. Fortunately, there’s an app for everything. But which ones are worth downloading? Keep reading to discover the top picks.
Is There an App to Control All Smart Home Devices?
Smart technology has advanced at an incredible pace. It’s now convenient for anyone to get into it without breaking the bank. However, controlling all those devices takes effort. We’ll make it easier for you.
Not too long ago, you needed a physical smart home hub to bring all your devices into one interface. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Google, Amazon, and Apple.
- You no longer need a hub
One of the key benefits of using a smart home hub is the unified experience for all your smart home devices. Regardless of the brand, provided they can link to the hub, you can control them using one app. Smart devices that don’t deploy a hub need their own third-party apps.
Let’s explore a few options.
You may think you need a Google Nest smart speaker to use the Google Home app, but that isn’t the case. It’s compatible with a broad range of products from well-known smart home brands. The app works on iPhones, iPads, and Androids.
With the Google Home app, you can create rooms and put smart devices in your home. Even better, you can simultaneously switch on and off all the lights in a room and control everything with Google Assistant.
You don’t need Google Nest devices, though they serve as a hub if you have some. They let you control everything with your voice. If you want to know whether your smart home device can be integrated into the Google Home app, ensure the device comes with the “Works with Google Assistant” label. Adding your device to the Google Home app is relatively easy. Open the app and click on the + icon in the top-left corner.
Amazon Alexa app is compatible with smart home products from prominent brands. It lets you organize devices into groups. For instance, you can set up a group to be rooms, like placing all your living room devices into one category. It’s upon you to decide how you want to organize all the devices.
The app also supports creating routines, which can automate smart home controls like a hub. When purchasing gadgets to work with the Alex app, check that they’re written “Works with Alexa.” To add a device, launch the Alexa app and press the + button in the top right corner. After that, select the type of device you want to add.
Those with iPhones or iPads already have a smart home app installed on their phones. Apple Home app lets you categorize smart devices into rooms. The Home app also has automation but is more limited than Amazon and Google.
Confirm the “Works with Apple Homekit” label when shopping for compatible devices.
Best Smart App for Every Home Owner
Our brains are only filled with sufficient processing power. With all the chores that go into running a household, it’s no surprise we often forget things. Fortunately, many home smart apps can make your life easier. Here are the top-rated smart apps:
After unboxing and setting up home appliances, misplacing the owner’s manual and directions is easy. That’s where Centriq comes to the rescue. Instead of keeping a drawer filled with appliance manuals, use the MyCentriq app to track them.
You only need to take pictures of your appliances, tools, and electronics, and the app adds their user manuals and warranties. The app also helps you find and order replacement parts, a huge plus for DIYers.
- Plan to Eat
Meal planning is time-intensive, but the Plan to Eat app takes all the effort out of establishing weekly menus and shopping lists. It lets users collect recipes from cookbooks, blogs, and so on. You can drop these recipes onto a weekly calendar to produce a grocery list automatically.
This digital home management system is designed to help you take care of your home. HomeZada app allows you to track and catalog your home’s value, equity, insurance, and mortgage information to avoid surprises.
You can also store photos of your home’s transformation and upload receipts, critical documents, and other files. Additionally, this app lets you set up budgeting plans for remodelling, schedule reminders for seasonal maintenance, and more.
- Amazon Alexa
Alexa has become a common household name partly because it assists homeowners with everyday tasks. The app can help you make grocery lists and set a timer for cooking food in the oven.
After downloading Alexa, you can sync it with your home’s smart devices, like lighting, fans, speakers, and thermostats. Other in-house personal assistants, such as Samsung SmartThings, Google Home, and Apple Home, are worth considering. They incorporate similar features, like automating when the smart lights turn on and off throughout your house.
HomeLink is all about car-to-home automation, meaning you can control multiple HomeLink-compatible smart home devices while on the road. You can adjust your thermostat when heading home after a busy day at work. The app is handy when you’ve already left home for work or vacation and want to confirm that you’ve turned off the heating.
Are you moving into a new home? Consider the Houzz app. This app brings your interior design vision to life. You can play around with layout ideas and shop for furniture that matches your desired aesthetic, whether traditional, modern, or eclectic. Houzz also links you with local architects and interior designers.
- Happy Plant
Happy Plant app is great for those who forget to water their plants. This app establishes a watering schedule and sends notifications to remind you. Happy Plant tracks watering progress with colorful symbols to make the task more fun.
Your online account needs a unique password to safeguard your identity. However, mastering the numbers and symbols for each website is almost impossible. 1Password collects and stores this information and locks it behind one master password.
You can use the master password to access your online banking account, social media platforms, and the rest. You don’t have to look for the piece of paper you wrote the original password. Interestingly, the app judges the strength of your passwords and will alter them automatically, assuming your account is compromised.
- Google Assistant
Google Assistant has voice control features and touch-screen functionality. It’s also compatible with different smart devices and programs. The app has integrations for products from prominent companies.
One of the major selling points of Google Assistant is that you can use it to create routines (a group of various tasks attached to one voice command). For instance, you can say, “Hey, Google, Movie Night,” In response, the app will dim your smart lights or do any other predetermined action.
- Apple Home
Apple Home app is engineered to work with Apple products such as Apple watches and iPads. Looking for the Apple Home logo on its package lets you know if your smart device is compatible with the Apple Home app. Some Apple Home features, like watching live feeds from your security cameras, will require you to have a smart hub. You can either use an iPhone or Apple TV as your hub.
Another notable feature is the ability to layer several functions. You can form a scene that indicates different actions. For instance, you may create a scene called “Bedtime.” The smart thermostat sets your house to your preferred sleeping temperature or turns on your security lights whenever this scene is activated.
- Samsung SmartThings
This smart app from Samsung has the SmartThings hub. With this app, you can control all your IoT devices from one place. You can program numerous smart devices to work jointly and set the app to share notifications about various tools in your smart home.
The app is easy to set up and lets you divide devices by room. What’s more? This app allows you to add widgets for your devices to the home screen, so you don’t need to search for your devices on your smart app.
SmartThings is compatible with a broad range of devices, such as products from Netgear. It also integrates with Google Nest products constructed after 2020. The app is entirely cloud-connected, so it cannot send alerts during a power outage.
- Philips Hue
The Philips Hue app is intended to control the smart lighting in your home using your mobile or other networked device. Although other smart apps can also control smart lights, the Philips Hue is a bit unique. You can use it to adjust your smart light’s color or dim or brighten your lights.
As much as this app is designed to work with Philips Hue lights, it can work with other products via the Philips Hue bridge. Overall, the Philips Hue is an excellent addition for complete control over your lighting system.
The Vivint smart home app uses WiFi to connect all the smart devices in your home, including smart plugs, motion detectors, smart locks, and security cameras. The app, compatible with iOS and Android devices, has an intuitive interface that makes it straightforward to control all your smart home products from one point, like your smartphone.
How Do I Link All My Smart Devices Together?
You can link all your smart devices using a central hub or app that supports most of your devices. Common choices include SmartThings, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa. With Google Home, you must open the app and press the + icon. You’ll be directed to set up your home and choose the device type.
Amazon Alexa works like Google Home. It accepts most smart devices from popular brands, and the app is available for Android, iPad, and iPhone. If you have Echo devices, they can control all the smart products you add to the app. To add your smart device to the Alexa app, open it and look for the “Devices” tab. Tap the + icon in the top-right corner and select the kind of device you want to add.
With Apple Homekit, you must tap the + button, scan a QR code, or insert a number printed on the packaging.
How to Secure Household IoT Devices
From smart speakers that can answer research questions to appliances that can inform you when you’re low on milk, Internet of Things devices have made their way into many consumers’ homes. However, it’s worth noting that IoT devices exchange sensitive data and are prime targets for malicious actors.
For this reason, you should leverage the best cybersecurity practices to protect your IoT devices from hackers. Below, you’ll discover how to secure your IoT devices from malicious actors.
- Ensure Each Device Has a Unique Password
Make sure all your device applications have a strong, unique password. Avoid passwords based on easily accessible information like an address. Use strange passwords, including a combination of letters and special characters, as this will be challenging for a criminal to crack.
- Set Up MFA
Multifactor authentication is the key to securing your IoT devices. MFA ensures that you input any significant changes to the software. Anyone who breaches your device can’t do much unless they have access to your phone or authentication code.
- Update Firmware
It’s essential to update your firmware when it comes to IoT devices. It also pays to deactivate accounts for IoT devices that you no longer use. If not, it will be a vulnerable point that raises your attack surface.
- Leverage Digital Hygiene Practices
IoT devices are part of our daily lives, so you should prioritize digital hygiene. Research basic ways to protect yourself, including configuration basics for your home networks, how to maximize settings limiting the amount of data exchanged with the outside world, and ways to make malicious actors’ work difficult.
- Don’t Pinch Pennies When Buying a Device
Most homeowners are not security-aware. It’s usually said that cheap doesn’t always equal good, which applies to security. Cheap devices are less secure than those bought from a solid provider.
- Connect IoT Devices to a Separate Network
Moving IoT devices to a different network from phones, tablets, and laptops is advisable. This, combined with switching on security settings and updating software periodically, can reduce the risk of hacking.
- Sign Up for the Manufacturer’s Email Updates
Always keep an up-to-date inventory of all your IoT devices and sign up for manufacturer’s email updates. Like the recall procedure, if exploitable security vulnerabilities are noticed, the manufacturer will reach out with guidelines on how to proceed (whether it’s returning or replacing the device or installing a software update).
- Search for Manufacturers With Cybersecurity Bug Bounty Programs
Before buying, sift through the IoT manufacturer’s website to check whether they have cybersecurity bug bounty programs. If so, that tells you they take cybersecurity seriously and have a channel to update your gadget in case of security issues.
- Know How Companies Store and Use Data
All IoT devices can access WiFi, gather private data, and listen to your conversation. So, ensure you understand how companies store and use your data, then decide if you need another IoT device in your house.
- Consider Whether You Want a Specific Device to Be IoT-Enabled
Be careful with devices you need to be IoT-Enabled. Consider the device’s function and whether it will majorly impact your personal life if it’s hacked. Having your IoT-enabled baby monitor attacked has different consequences than having your bird feeder hacked.
- Configure Firewalls and Routers to Prevent External Traffic
One of the most important things you can do is ensure no means of connecting to your IoT devices from outside the home network. Make sure firewalls and routers are configured to block external traffic, thus preventing hackers from targeting your devices.
- Understand the Security Differences Between WiFi and Bluetooth
It must be noted that IoT devices aren’t merely household appliances. They are vulnerable points and must be adequately protected. Ensure you restrict physical access to these devices and always check for firmware updates. Also, note that WiFi-enabled devices are more secure than Bluetooth low-energy-enabled ones.
The best smart app for every homeowner has made life easier like never before. With these apps, you can control your smart home devices from the comfort of your location. You can set the thermostat to adjust the temperatures according to your liking and control the lights to turn on and off or change the color when watching movies.
And there’s more to recommend smart apps for homeowners. Ensure your chosen app is compatible with your smart device to guarantee seamless operation. Equally important is to stay updated on manufacturer recalls or newer versions to avoid hacking.