When considering a home security and home automation system, one of the things you should consider is how well their associated apps function.
Today's home security and automation features are most often controlled using an app. Therefore, the app is the one feature that needs to perform exceptionally well. Otherwise, you could find yourself wasting valuable time, and possibly risking the safety of your family. Especially if the app is either too hard to use or doesn't work consistently and like it is supposed to.
Favorite mobile apps for home security can combine remote control of the alarm system with other smart home functions. Here are some basics.
The primary benefits of a home security mobile app are the abilities to arm, disarm and monitor your security system from anywhere. If you leave home and aren’t sure whether you’ve activated the system, just check the app and toggle the setting if needed. Some apps even have geo-services to alert you when you’ve left the home unsecured; if you travel more than a mile from home, for example, you’ll get an alert. You can set up a variety of customized mobile alerts and log in anytime to view recorded or real-time video, activity logs for door locks and more.
The best home security companies create apps that automate entire homes as well as alarm systems. Home automation commonly includes the remote control and monitoring of security systems, locks, lights, blinds and thermostats. Environmental protection is often automated too; smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and water sensors can be linked to these mobile apps. Another possibility is remotely controlling specific electrical outlets to activate/deactivate appliances such as coffee makers and radios. Easy to use, these multipurpose apps are well worth exploring.
If you have a smart home security system, an app can be used to monitor, access and control your system remotely through the use of a mobile or other web-enabled device.
If you want to see who is at your front door, tap your app. If you want to see what your kids or pets are doing, tap your app and select any given security camera for a live update. Did you forget to lock the doors, turn off the lights, or shut your garage door? Tap your app to find out, then you can remotely handle any necessary tasks using that app. Those are just a few of the things you can do using a home security app.
Here are the top home security apps along with their features and uses.
With the ADT Pulse app, you can arm/disarm your security system, turn your lights on before you arrive home or off if you forgot. You can also turn off your small appliances, adjust your thermostat, receive alerts or view live video feeds of when your kids get home from school. You can even lock and unlock your doors so you can let someone in remotely if you need to. Additionally, you can setup custom automations and schedules that include your vacations and other events.
With the Vivint app, you can control your entire security system, which includes viewing doorbell and indoor/outdoor surveillance cameras, monitoring window sensors, and smoke detectors. You can also remotely control your home automation features such as the thermostat, lights, door locks, garage door, and more.
With the SimpliSafe app, you can control your entire security system. It also allows you to view your security cameras live, arm/disarm your system, receive home entry alerts, and watch recorded video clips. You can also monitor your home for leaks, floods, and home temperatures (to alert you to the possibility of frozen pipes). In addition, you can check on your kids, pets, babysitters, or anyone else who might be in your home, as well as monitor gun, alcohol, and medicine cabinets, or anything else for that matter. However, SimpliSafe doesn't offer any home automation features so neither does their app.
With the Frontpoint app, you can monitor, access and control your security and home automation systems remotely. This app allows you to arm or disarm your system from anywhere, view a live camera feed or watch recorded video clips. You can also control your lights, locks, thermostat, and receive real-time alerts for any event based on your exact specifications. And much more!
With the Scout app, you can create custom security modes and monitor the status of your home remotely. You can also receive custom alerts, allow instant access to approved visitors, and be immediately alerted when an event occurs. In addition, you can monitor and control your home automation features which are easily integrated with many popular smart home technology and devices, such as Zwave, Alexa, Nest, Google Home, and others.
With the Xfinity app, you can view your entire system. You can also arm and disarm the alarm, control the lights, appliances, thermostat, cameras, and manage the zones and sensors. You can also sign in and out, change the rules and scenes, as well as view any and all activity and/or system alerts.
With the Canary app, you can monitor your entire home and control all your security devices via your phone, or any other web-enabled device. You can watch surveillance videos (live or recorded) during the day or night. You can also receive activity alerts along with a video clip of the event, as well as arm/disarm your system. The Canary app is customizable so you can set your own notification and privacy rules. In addition, you can trigger the siren and/or be connected to emergency responders. You can also monitor the air quality, temperature, and humidity of your home.
With the Ring app, you can monitor and control your security features from any web-enabled device including video doorbells, security cameras, and your entire security system, all from one dashboard. That means you can view videos, use the built-in microphone and speaker to hear and talk with anyone on your property, receive motion detection alerts, crime/safety alerts, and share videos with your neighbors.
With the Arlo app, you can view your live Arlo camera feeds and time-stamped recorded images, activate push notifications based on your chosen triggers, motion and sound detection alerts, and review daily cloud recordings. You can also arm/disarm your system, create a custom mode, adjust individual camera settings, and receive automatic system updates.
With the Nest app, you can arm/disarm your system, view your Nest cams to see who is coming and going from your home, and receive alerts and notifications if you forget to set your alarm or if an event triggers your system, etc. You can also control your home automation systems including the locks, thermostat, check your energy usage, and receive extreme temperature alerts to help prevent frozen pipes. This app will also send you an alert if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected and it will provide you with instructions about what to do. In addition, it will also run a safety check to test your alarms once a month.
With the Alarm.com app, you can remotely monitor and control your entire home in real-time. When using this app you can access the live video feeds and cameras or watch recorded clips, as well as arm and disarm your system. You can also control and manage your home automation features including your lights, thermostat, door locks, search the system's event history, and more. This app will send you alerts when your kids get home from school, the housekeeper arrives, if you left your garage door open, if the system detects flooding or a water leak, or even if your kids open your medicine cabinet or enter any other restricted area.
Home automation apps work the same way as the home security apps. In fact, most home security companies offer both home security and home automation features which can both be remotely monitored, accessed and controlled from one dashboard on the app. So let's take a look at the most popular home automation apps.
Here are the top smart home apps along with their features and uses.
The WeMo home automation app is currently in beta mode. However, it's able to control your lights, appliances, thermostat, or any whole room in your home from anywhere in the world. This means you can pair the app with the WeMo Mini, Nest, Amazon Echo, Google Home, or other compatible devices to control your smart home features. This will allow you to turn on your lights before you get home, or set them to turn on and off automatically. This will also make it look like your home, even when you're not. In addition, WeMo is also compatible with IFTTT so the possibilities are literally endless.
The Wink home automation app is compatible with hundreds of different smart products and any one of them, when paired with the Wink app, will allow you to remotely monitor, access, and control your lights, door locks, thermostat, as well as receive sensor alerts. These alerts will notify you when an event is detected, such as motion, opened windows or doors, fire, smoke, front door visitors (so you can unlock the door remotely), unlocked doors or garage doors(so you can lock them remotely). And, this app lets you control these features from anywhere. In addition, you can also customize shortcuts, setup schedules, and even Robots to work with your smart features.
The SmartThings home automation app, you can monitor, access, and control your home's smart features including the lights, locks, garage door, doorbell, motion and water leak sensors, and other devices using the Samsung SmartThings Hub. In addition, it's compatible with a variety of other Z-Wave or ZibBee chipped devices.
The IFTTT (If This, Then That) app works with over 400 apps, including Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Google Drive and more. In addition, IFTTT also works with devices such as Alexa, Nest, Philips, Google Home and others. This applet helps access all the smart features around you using voice controlled devices. It also helps keep you informed using major publications such as The New York Times, etc. You can also receive the weather, message your friends, receive Craigslist (and other) alerts, home security alerts, streamline your social media, backup important files, pictures and other valuable information to a cloud storage option such as Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also remotely control your thermostat, and trigger events based on your current location.
Here are key features of top apps from home security companies.
Your home and safety hang in the balance, so you don’t have time to fuss and fiddle with a clunky app. The best home security mobile apps are easy to use, intuitive, and designed with the user in mind. The interface on a quality mobile app is simple to navigate, with a display of large icons that just feel right.
All home security mobile apps have one-touch arming and disarming. Heading out for the day? Simply open the app and arm the system. While you’re out, you can remotely check your system’s status and even view activity logs. Then, as you pull into your drive, open the app again and disarm the system with the push of a button. Easy does it.
Level up with Remote Control Door Locks. The best security mobile apps allow you to access, monitor, and control your automatic door locks from your smartphone. This technology combines convenience and security, and it embodies the evolution of home security. If you have smart door locks, or you’re looking to get them, be sure your system’s mobile app supports this feature.
The top home security mobile apps offer remote viewing capabilities. This feature is tailored for those with doorbell cameras or any type of indoor/outdoor security camera. Simply hop on the app and tap right into your live-stream video. The best apps allow you to talk and listen to visitors with two-way voice. Never miss a beat with remote viewing.
Customize like a King (or Queen!). If you like a custom feel to home security, then you’ll love these apps. Connected to the right equipment, certain mobile apps will let you preset commands like arming the front door when it’s locked, setting a room of mood lights at a specific time, and turning up the inside temperature just before you get home.
Did your home spring a carbon monoxide leak while at work today? You would never know without a mobile app that supports Environmental Monitoring. Coupled with smart devices, this potentially life-saving feature sends automatic alerts when smoke, excessive heat, carbon monoxide, and other threatening hazards are detected. The best mobile apps support real-time environmental monitoring. Don’t go without it.
Did you know home security and automation systems can help you save energy? It’s true. The best mobile apps support home automation features, which help tremendously in the Energy Saving department. Dial in the perfect settings for heat, AC, lights, and other appliances. And transform your house into the most efficient home on the block. That’s money in the bank and a healthier planet.
Equipped with the right mobile app, you can program your lights to do just about anything. This helps reduce energy costs and, well, it’s pretty darn cool. Open the app and set a room of lights to match the mood you want, program your lights to turn on or off at a specific time of day, and more. The possibilities are endless.
Compatibility is another key feature of the best home security mobile apps. The leading companies deliver value-packed apps that are compatible with Android, iPhone, and even Blackberry platforms. Be sure that your home security mobile app is compatible with your mobile device and operating system before you make your purchase. This will save you money, time, and countless headaches.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.