Here are the best smart home ecosystems on sale
"Alexa, can you ask Siri to Google how to turn off the lights?"
It’s the year 2020 and buttons and switches are on the verge of getting replaced by touch screens and voice commands. The statement certainly stands true for cars. And now, it appears the house is being invaded as well. The future seems bedridden, does it?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Amazon’s Alexa is gradually becoming a stalwart in the smart home business. The launch of speaker-resembling virtual assistant devices (read Amazon Echo) meant getting news, weather updates or listening to music was just a voice command away.
The brand was rapid to complete its eco-space by making its smart hub software compatible with its homegrown smart TV device (FireStick) and other third-party smart home components like bulbs and thermostats. Furthermore, Amazon’s eco-space also lets you group devices to work in conjunction so that parents can call out power-saving commands for the children’s room when they aren’t home. However, for this eco-space to work and then expand, you’ll need an Amazon device.
Apple’s take on the smart home eco-space is essentially an app. The Home app accumulates all individual smart home appliances into one central command centre, preventing the user from opening individual apps for those intelligent devices. The app only works with devices which carry a ‘Works with HomeKit’ badge, and one obviously needs an Apple device for this app to work.
One of the coolest features of this ecosystem has to be the ‘Automation’ section which lets you set parameters for automated behaviours. For instance, you can cook up a game scene where lights will be dimmed down, heating from the thermostat can be increased, and the Xbox can get turned on, automatically. Even though the arsenal of compatible devices with Apple’s HomeKit isn’t the biggest, it is gradually getting developed. However, if digital security is your primary point of concern with these smart devices, look no further than Apple in this aspect.
Google’s software operates as a composition of both Apple and Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. Google offers the Amazon Echo-like speaker device as well as Apple’s HomeKit-resembling Google Home app. Having either of the two enables you to set up this smart hub. This results in added convenience over the widespread adoption of Google’s Android platform by third-party home appliance producers.
Google’s software further allows multiple users to have control over each device. Compared to Alexa, Google Assistant understands human-friendly interaction commands much better. Plus, one can also listen to the day’s schedule call-outs if the calendar is synced to this software. So, this appears to be the easier and more convenient setup amongst the three stalwarts. With more devices being added to Google’s list of compatible devices each day, this conveniently looks like an ecosystem which is the most welcoming.
Samsung Smart Things
A significant aspect working in Samsung’s way is its large stable of indigenous home appliances. Establishing a well-connected ecosystem gets a whole lot easier if one has smart appliances from the same producer. Not to mention, the familiarity of the software further aids in carrying out tasks rather quick.
Rest of the platform works quite similar to the list of software mentioned above. However, the Bixby, Samsung’s take on Siri/Alexa isn’t quite up to the mark yet. But then, one could always utilise the fuss-free app controls on their smartphone. As for any additional smart devices that doesn’t fall under Samsung’s umbrella, the company has been working with other technology companies to make those products compatible with Samsung’s interface.
An interesting piece of software, or rather an app/website, IFTTT is claimed to be present in the connected space much before than Amazon and Google got their software going. The acronym stands for IF This Then That and works as a trigger than an intelligent smart home gig. One needs to input conditions and the resultant consequence for this software patch to automate everything accordingly. For instance, if its post 6 pm, turn on all the lights.
While this may be not as smart as the other software, this certainly does the trick if the requirements are easy controls and fuss-free connections. Plus, one could also add the IFTTT as a plug-in to the ecosystems mentioned above. However, IFTTT in its own has been working with major companies like Philips, Belkin and iRobot to develop compatible devices. If this doesn’t provide with enough frills, you could use this technology to automate your social life as well, such as automation of tweets. Not bad, eh?
Just like Apple’s HomeKit, even the Yonomi patch is an app at the end. And the functionalities resemble the IFTTT software. Hence, even this needs conditional triggers to automate smart appliances. However, this app can embed almost all possible smart devices into itself, eliminating the need to have distinct ecosystems based on the parent company.
Further, Yonomi claims to offer a lot more customisation options than the established players mentioned above. Resembling Apple’s away scene mode, even Yonomi offers various modes via which suitable music, thermostat controls and even lighting adjustments can be made for a particular occasion. Rounding this impressive app up, even voice controls can also be added by embedding Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant on it. We have an all-rounder then!