How to turn your old Android phone or tablet into a remote control for your smart home (Update: More apps)
This story was initially printed 2020/03/30
7:00am PDTon Mar 30, 2020 and final up to date 2020/04/11
2:10pm PDTApr 11, 2020.
Smart units add a nice degree of comfort to your family, together with the flexibility to control them remotely and utilizing your voice. However, there are occasions when it is a lot simpler to function them the old usual means with the push of a button moderately than with your voice. Sadly, not many include bodily controls, and even when they did, that will imply you’d have a bunch of remotes mendacity round.
To resolve this subject, we have checked out how one can turn a phone or a tablet into a remote control for all of your smart home units, with out having to change from one app to one other. We’ve explored a number of choices, and the one which’s proper for you’ll rely tremendously on what smart units you’ve got at home, as compatibility with third-party companies could tremendously fluctuate.
Google has turned its Home app into a smart control hub since October 2018, letting you use varied units instantly with out having to use some other software program. What’s significantly handy is that all the units you utilize with Assistant will robotically seem inside the app with out the necessity for additional configuration. For occasion, all of my lights, smart plugs, audio system, thermostats, and even my vacuum cleaner seem within the app, with the flexibility to control them.
Unfortunately, the Google Home app has some limitations. First, some units cannot be operated with it. For occasion, I am unable to use it to turn off the TV, despite the fact that I can ask Assistant to accomplish that. Similarly, though smart locks, window blinds, and air fresheners are proven within the app, there is no choice to control them. What’s significantly stunning is that units like smart locks and TVs may be managed from a Smart Display, so it is senseless Google hasn’t added that choice in its Home app.
One means to resolve this limitation is through the use of Routines, relying on what you need to obtain. In my case, I created one which lets me turn off the TV with out having to use Assistant, and though it’s miles from being essentially the most handy means — you’ve got to create it manually, and triggering it mainly takes you to Assistant — it really works. You may do the identical to lock your door or open the blinds, however that also means you’ve got to create these individually.
Lastly, Routines may enable you to automate varied issues at home, equivalent to turning all lights off whenever you’re leaving, however these are comparatively restricted as they cannot embody any circumstances, not like among the different companies we’ll discuss later.
Google Home is the app that may work for most individuals. Sure, it could’t do every thing, and you will in all probability want to discover different apps if you would like to carry out extra advanced actions, however it would not require heavy configuration and is intuitive to use. It’s unlucky there is no means to customise the structure within the app and that there is no widget, as these would have made it much more handy.
Olisto just isn’t a control panel per se, however moderately a means to automate most of your smart home units and home equipment and have them talk with one another. It permits you to create “triggs” that may be conditioned primarily based on varied components, such because the time, location, day of the week and so forth, to carry out varied actions. For occasion, you may ask it to turn on the lights, lock the doorways, and open the blinds each weekday at 9:00 AM. You may automate varied actions primarily based on triggers from units you have already got at home, equivalent to your smart digicam, health tracker, and far more. Thank to Olisto’s integration with an in depth vary of companies, you may think about loopy “triggs” like locking the kitchen’s door when you have not exercised sufficient earlier than 7:00 PM, for instance.
What’s significantly highly effective, although, is its potential to create “now” buttons to carry out “triggs.” For instance, you may press a single digital button whenever you get home to open the blinds, turn on the lights, and begin taking part in music on your audio system. The draw back is that you’ve to manually create a button for each characteristic in each product, which may be significantly time-consuming to arrange, however very handy when used each day.
Olisto might be not for everybody, particularly in case you’re not spending an excessive amount of time on configuration. On the opposite hand, in case you like to fiddle with expertise and create some fairly neat home automations which are triggered on the contact of a digital button, it’s best to positively give this app a strive. It permits you to create extra advanced routines than IFTTT, however helps fewer companies, and tends to focus totally on European platforms. Lastly, though there is no such thing as a widget, there’s an choice to have a persistent notification, which may add a degree of handiness, despite the fact that I personally hate these.
iHaus is without doubt one of the least eye pleasing apps I’ve seen, however it’s truly fairly helpful. For starters, it would not require any intensive setup and may join to your smart home units with out the necessity to log in. Instead, I managed to hyperlink my Roomba and Hue lights with the contact of a button, because the app robotically scanned my Wi-Fi community. Sadly, my plugs and cast-enabled audio system weren’t supported, so I could not have all of my units within the app.
Unlike Olisto, iHaus is extra of a control panel for your smart units, together with some audio system, lights, plugs, kitchen home equipment, locks, thermostats, and even your Tesla. It’s simpler to use than Google Home, in a sense that you could simply faucet a gadget’s icon to turn it on or begin it. What’s additionally nice is that it could robotically acknowledge teams, equivalent to Hue rooms, so you may turn on all lights in a room directly, or change their shade on the identical time. You may create routines to turn off every thing at home with a single digital button.
iHaus does provide the flexibility to create scripts with conditional triggers, however I’ve discovered them to be fairly poor primarily based on my utilization. Again, it will rely on what you are making an attempt to obtain, what units you’ve got, and whether or not they’re suitable with the app.
All in all, iHaus may be a related choice in case you’re trying for one thing easy and simple to use, however do not thoughts the seems to be.
If you may’t bear the seems to be of iHaus, SmartIssues is by far the nicest trying app lined on this article. Although it is made by Samsung, it is not unique to the model’s merchandise and would not essentially require the hub, as it could truly combine with a nice variety of third-party companies.
It’s straightforward to arrange and the app permits you to break up units by room. Unfortunately, it would not work with my Roomba and required a further hub to deal with my smart plugs, which is a roadblock for me. Besides that, there is no choice to change the colour of all lights in a room, so you will have to set these individually — except you need to turn your front room into a membership. There are some helpful options, although, like the flexibility to set timers for the lights to turn off robotically after a sure period of time, or at a particular hour. Another distinctive characteristic it presents is the flexibility to add varied places, so you may separate the units from your metropolis residence and your nation home, for instance. Also, there’s the choice to add widgets to your home display screen, which makes it much more handy to use.
The built-in automation options are literally fairly highly effective, as they are often conditional and control varied units on the identical time, which permits for a straightforward configuration and avoids utilizing a third-party platform like IFTTT.
- List of supported services and products
Yonomi is comparatively related to Olisto, in a sense that it is designed to enable you to automate issues at home, however may act as a remote control for lights and different units. It’s very straightforward to arrange and may robotically detect what units are on your Wi-Fi community, similar to iHaus. Sadly, it would not assist teams, so all your units seem collectively, and though you may control them individually, you may’t turn a number of lights on or off on the identical time.
Yonomi may be very helpful when organising routines, although, as these may be conditional. However, I discover the variety of supported companies to be fairly low, so you will have to see whether or not it is related for you in contrast to Olisto or IFTTT.
IFTTT is certainly one of my favourite companies round, and what’s nice about it’s that after you’ve got arrange every thing, you even neglect it exists. For occasion, I take advantage of a few smart plugs at home to control some lights, and I do not need to use totally different apps to robotically turn them off primarily based on my location. Thanks to IFTTT, my Hue lights, plugs and different units may be turned off after I depart, with out me having to fear about it. In truth, IFTTT is so clear that you simply not often want to use the app, except you are organising a new applet or checking your exercise log.
There additionally an choice for you to control your smart units instantly from your phone, thanks to widgets and “Do buttons.” Just like Olisto, this is not a handy choice, as you will have to create recipes manually, however they are often helpful for a few of options, equivalent to turning lights on or off, however you will not get to choose the colour for occasion.
IFTTT may be price contemplating in case you do not intend to create too many buttons, because the platform helps a very big selection of companies and permits you to create duties in simply a flew clicks. The app additionally has a widget, which most others do not, so it could be a related choice for many.
Amazon’s app is comparatively related to Google’s, in a sense that it presents the flexibility to control your units and group them in rooms. It additionally has the advantage of being suitable with a very big selection of services and products, which is certainly an argument in contrast to another ones on this submit.
Some would possibly discover it extra handy than different apps, because it permits you to turn off all lights or plugs in a room utilizing totally different icons, which may be helpful. Unfortunately, Alexa is not smart sufficient to acknowledge a few of my plugs truly control lamps, whereas others do not, which implies that if I turn on all lights in a room, it will not change on those which are operated with a smart plug. Also, I used to be dissatisfied there was no choice to control some units, equivalent to my vacuum clear, whereas the Google Home app can do it. Sadly, there is no such thing as a means to create widgets to control your favourite units. Similarly, you want to click on on Devices each time you open the app to entry them, which I discover to be inconvenient, particularly in case you’re planning on utilizing the app as a smart remote control.
This app has a very intuitive and pleasing interface and allows you to manage your units in teams and rooms, making it simpler to navigate. It’s designed to assist a big selection of units, together with lights, plugs, thermostats, TVs, and audio system, however it’s sadly solely suitable with a restricted variety of companies. For occasion, whereas it helps Hue and LIFX, I could not hyperlink it to my Roomba and smart plugs, which was once more a roadblock for me.
That’s a little bit of a disgrace as a result of it is in all probability one of many best ones to use on this roundup. It’s additionally customizable, with the choice to rename units and alter their icons, however what is the level in having the ability to accomplish that if you cannot control most of your units?
Whether you are making an attempt to repurpose a spare phone or tablet into a remote control or need to use your present one to simply function your home equipment, we hope the above apps will enable you to combination every thing in a single, handy display screen. This may also be a good way to assist your family profit from a fundamental digital remote control with out your intervention, and with out giving everybody full entry to all apps and units. Hopefully, you will have the ability to discover an app that fits your wants, and that may deal with all of the companies you utilize. Don’t hesitate to share your favorites with us within the remark part under.