The 3 Best Home Automation Apps for SmartThings

Wink and SmartThings offer some decent out of the box automation rules. From Winks Robots to SmartThings various SmartApps, you can certainly do a lot to connect various smart home devices. However, in both platforms, there are limitations in connecting those ancillary devices (ie: Wink cannot talk to Harmony and/or SmartThings cannot reliably connect to Nest, etc). How in the world do I connect all my DIY Z-Wave Home Automation devices? Well third party apps aim to solve that problem, allowing you to connect your ever growing smart home products to one another.

See also: Z-Wave vs Zigbee | Which Protocol Should You Choose?

Many of us fall victim to the Smart Home addiction. So many amazing new products are coming out daily and we’re bound to see more as the industry takes off. I remember how excited I was to purchase the August lock, thinking, “surely this will connect to Wink” (don’t judge, it was early in my home automation career and I didn’t realize Wink Hub 1 did not support Bluetooth LE) but to my disappointment, it did not. I still loved the August lock and was determined to find a way to get it to work.

Through a third party app, (I’ll disclose below, hang on) I was able to get the two connected and I’ve been using it ever since.

Fast forward a year or so and now we have all sorts of third party home automation apps that are amazing and help us connect devices that normally do not play nice in the sandbox and turn them into best friends.

I’ve narrowed down three of my favorite Home Automation Apps that can be used on Android and iPhone devices that work with both Wink and SmartThings and listed some real life examples of how each can be used. Happy Home Automating!

Home Automation App #1

Yonomi

Best Home Automation Apps | #1 Yonomi

Yonomi was what I was referencing earlier that helped me connect my August Lock with Wink. I quickly was able to setup a routine that would turn off all main lights and lock the door. I also took it a step further by integrating Harmony that had a routine that allowed my movie lights and television to turn on, but I’ll save that part for another day.

Below, is some quick setup instructions as well as the routine I use every Tuesday night for Family Movie Night.

Quick Facts About the Yonomi Home Automation App

How I Used the Yonomi Home Automation App

For Family Movie Night

Imagine being the coolest mom or dad ever… using magic to turn off lights, lock the doors, turn on mood lights, and finally, turn on Amazon Fire TV. All with using 5 words…

“Alexa, trigger Family Movie Night”

Scratch just being the coolest mom or dad ever… you are now the coolest person ever. You literally just jumped to the year 2364, hopped on the Starship Enterprise and owned it (use “Computer” as your Echo wake word).

Yonomi Family Night Setup Instructions (Video/Written)

Pros/Cons of the Yonomi Home Automation App

  • Pros
    • Integrates seamlessly with Alexa
    • Geofencing works great and is very responsive
    • Easy to setup app
  • Cons
    • Only works with Wink (no SmartThings support)
    • Limited amount of partnerships compared to IFTTT/Stringify

Other Cool Uses for Yonomi

  • Setup a Kids Bedtime Routine by having an RGBW Smart Light turn on to their favorite color, their bedtime music start playing (either with Sonos or a smart plug), and adjusting the temperature
  • Morning Work Routine by turning on selected lights at a certain time, while brewing your morning coffee with WeMo’s Mr. Coffee machine and when you leave your house, your doors automatically lock, lights shut off, and you receive a message that the routine has run successfully when you’ve reached a certain mileage away from your house
  • Workout Routineby turning on the TV with Harmony, turning on a floor fan and mood lights with a dual z-wave plug-in outlet

Conclusion

Yonomi is great for linking various smart home devices together in a seamless way. The response time is quick and I love the fact that it integrates seamlessly with Amazon Echo and allows you to voice control entire routines.

Home Automation App #2

IFTTT

Best Home Automation Apps | #2 IFTTT

IFTTT or, “IF This, Then That” has actually been around since 2011 and is one of the coolest apps out there in terms of connecting various services with each other (ie: send text via Android when your favorite team scores a touchdown via ESPN account or text your Android phone to turn the volume up to 100% if you lose it).

When it comes to a Home Automation app, it truly shines.

Below are some quick setup instructions as well as the routine I use to keep my house at the optimal temperature during the seasons where windows are left open.

A word about IFTTT Applets (formerly IFTTT Routines):

“Applets can do everything that Recipes could — and much more. They bring your services together, creating new experiences that you can unlock with a single switch. A house that welcomes you, an efficient workplace, an easier way to stay informed — there are thousands of experiences to choose from, or you can create your own.”

https://ifttt.com/blog/2016/11/the-new-ifttt-is-here

Quick Facts About the IFTTT Home Automation App

How I Used the IFTTT Home Automation App

To Keep My Home at the Optimal Temperature When the AC/Heat is Off

Living in Michigan, the weather is always changing – snowing on Thursday and shorts and a t-shirt on Friday is not uncommon. This leaves our smart thermostat (Nest) confused sometimes as to what temperature it should keep our house at.

In the late summer to early fall (or late spring to early summer) phase, we typically open and close the windows to regulate the temperature, but sometimes there are those days where we’re at work, the windows are open and while the weatherman predicted a 68 degree sunny day, in reality, it’s 90+ degrees. Now, that’s a bit dramatic, but you see my point.

Who wants to come home to a scorching house? The windows are open so it would be pointless to turn on the air conditioning… so, what do you do?

Well, luckily IFTTT has your back and so do we.

Here’s what you do. Using the Nest and Wink (or SmartThings) Applet, you can use the temperature sensor within Nest to set thresholds on how hot you want your house to get before you cool it down.

Example: If the Nest thermostat detects the temperature to be above your threshold (mine was 75) it will run an applet to “trigger” another event to happen. In my example, I had the following events trigger when the applet was run:

  • Floor fan plugged into our Z-Wave Dual Smart Plug would turn on
  • Ceiling fans would start and turn to medium speed

IFTTT Optimal Temperature Setup Instructions (Video/Written)

Pros/Cons of Using IFTTT as a Home Automation App

  • Pros
    • By far the most partnerships
    • User-friendly app
    • Has been around the longest and is trusted
  • Cons
    • There can be up to an hour delay in triggered events
    • In order to control multiple devices (ie: more than two) some extra work needs to be done (ie: shortcuts in Wink and a special SmartApp in SmartThings)

Other Cool Uses for IFTTT

  • Turn on certain lights in the morning if the weather calls for rain by having an RGBW Smart Light turn on based on Weather Channel predictions for the day
  • Log events to Google Drive while you are away by enabling the Google Drive applet and pairing it to SmartThings
  • Automatically turn down the thermostat and turn on the kids RGBW lights at bedtime using Nest and SmartThings

Conclusion

IFTTT is the OG of linking various services together. They started out as a cool way to link your Facebook to Gmail, or Instagram to Google Docs, but have evolved into much more of a powerhouse in terms of Home Automation Apps are concerned. The sky is the limit and we absolutely love this app.

Home Automation App #3

Stringify

Best Home Automation Apps | #3 Stingify

Stringify is the new kid on the block in terms of home automation apps, but wow… does it deliver.

It’s similar to IFTTT and Yonomi in that it can combine multiple devices and services together, but what separates it from the others is the ability to, “string” more complex actions together.

For instance, you can combine multiple devices and only run the, “string of events” when you are in a certain GPS location and/or only during certain times.

We used it as a burglar deterrent when we were away on vacation and it worked amazing.

Below are some quick setup instructions as well as the, “string” I used while we were on vacation (and continue to use to this day).

Quick Facts About the Stringify Home Automation App

How I Used the Stringify Home Automation App

Cheap, But Effective Burglar Deterrent While Away on Vacation (Or Any Time)

Want an easy to set up burglar deterrent? So did we… and Stringify helped us accomplish that.

We had a light that turned on when motion was detected, but only during the night and only when we were away from the house. After 10 minutes of the light being on, it turned off until new motion was detected and a text was sent letting us know the action fired.

We strung together the following to create one of the simplest security measures while we were on vacation:

  • Nestcam
  • Z-Wave RGBW Smart Bulb (or any smart bulb, we just wanted to be cool)
  • Android phone (for location and SMS purposes)

Stringify Burglar Deterrant Setup Instructions (Video/Written)

Pros/Cons of using Stringify as your Home Automation App

  • Pros
    • Connections (strings) are way more advanced than what other Home Automation Apps offer
    • A lot of partnerships (ability to pair both Wink & SmartThings)
  • Cons
    • App can be overwhelming until you figure it out (YouTube is your friend)
    • App is still in its infancy (it runs great, but it’s still new)

Other Cool Uses for Stringify

  • Alert you by SMS and turn on your RGBW light when water is detected by connecting your Leaksmart (or any other water detector) and your smart light bulb
  • Turn on Heat/AC and lights when you come home from work by enabling your ecobee or nest thermostat, smart lights, location and date/time (to only run the flow at a certain time)
  • Tap a button and turn on a light for 20 minutes (then it turns off)by enabling the date/time function along with either your double z-wave plug-in module or colored smart light bulb

Conclusion

Stringify has a ton of potential and is already making waves in the Home Automation App market. This is by far the most diverse app on the market today and we’re excited to see where it goes. There are so many possibilities and so many advanced flows you can create to make your home, truly, “smart”.

See also: What is Z-Wave? and What is Z-Wave Plus?

by Eric Hines Jan 31st 2017

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