These apps will help anyone get the most from their smart home and life
Forget smart hardware – some of the best tools for an easier life are hiding in the App Store. Here’s our pick of the best smart home and smart living related apps today:
1. Alfred Smart Home App – link your smart home tech
Figuring out which smart home devices will work with the other, is a head-scratcher but this app can make those problems go away. This connects multiple devices across multiple brands, including Netatmo, Sonos, Philips, Nest, LIFX and Insteon amongst others and aims to connect security cameras, lighting, heating/cooling systems, entertainment, electrical appliances, windows, gates, curtains, pet care and baby monitors. Phone alerts can also be set up to inform on security breaches like doors or windows being opened. Download it from the app store here.
2. Roger – turn your phone into a walkie talkie (and connect to Alexa)
This new app is being pitched as an app that makes your phone into a walkie talkie. But why? The developers just wanted to be able to quickly talk to friends rather than texting or leaving voice messages. Install it, and start talking to other Roger owners. Interestingly, it’s already attracted a lot of attention from Amazon Echo owners because it also enables you to talk to Alexa remotely, for example should you want to tell your Echo to prepare your home for when you return from being away. Download it here.
3. IF – connect anything to anything else
IF is the flagship app of IFTTT (If This Then That), a digital recipe-making tool that lets you create fun and useful connections between your favourite apps based on ‘triggers’ and ‘actions’. It’s kind of like a connected home within your phone. IF works with everything from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to Dropbox, Reddit, Tumblr, and eBay, and there’s practically no end to the tricks you can make it perform. With just a couple of taps, you could have IF post all of your Instagram pictures to Twitter, automatically publish all YouTube videos you like to Facebook, or even create a Google Drive spreadsheet where all of your new phone contacts get backed up automatically. Nifty, eh?
Get IF here.
4. RedZone Map – discover a city’s danger areas
Visiting a strange city but no idea what areas are safe to stay or go out in? RedZone uses government and crowd sources information to help you, displaying it on a map. It will tell you the types of crime and any trends around them, and even help you plot safe routes across a city. Handy. Download it here.
5. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock – wake up at the right time for your body
If you’re sick of waking up bleary-eyed to a shrill alarm tone, Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock is going to be your new best Friend. It uses your iPhone’s microphone and accelerometer to determine which sleep phase you’re in, and only wakes you up when you’re in the lightest phase; in other words, when you’re most alert and ready for the day. There are some extra little touches to help you improve your overall sleep health too, like Sleep Notes for tracking how stuff like coffee intake and the weather affects your kip. You can also view your sleep data in simplified graphs and charts, which is a quick and easy way to identify trends in your sleeping patterns. Plus, there are some lovely, calming alarm sounds to ease you into the day gently.
Get Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock here.
6. 30/30 – organise yourself quickly and easily
There are tons of task-managing apps, but 30/30 really is the master of getting stuff done. Whether it’s your workload, study schedule, or household chores, 30/30’s colourful clutter-free interface lets you create a full task list in seconds, with time limits and alerts when it’s time for you to move onto the next item. Rather than fill your screen with buttons and information, 30/30 uses simple little icons and charts to visualise your to-do list. It also responds to intuitive gestures like swiping, tapping, and shaking your phone, which makes navigating your list during a busy day a doddle.
Get 30/30 here.
7. Fitstar Personal Trainer – a personal trainer in your pocket
If you’re struggling to find the time of the money for the gym, Fitstar is a great way to get fired up for a home workout. Touting itself as a personal trainer in your pocket, Fitstar brings custom workouts to the palm of your hand for convenient training whether you’re travelling or just in your bedroom. All its workouts are in easy-to-follow HD video format with custom audio tracks, and the option to input your personal preferences and data means you can filter out any tough or intimidating routines. Fitstar will adapt its workout suggestions to your progress, which will be even more accurate if you sync it up with data from the likes of Apple Health, or devices like your Fitbit.
Get Fitstar here.
8. Budgt – keep on top of your spending
Keep on top your spending is never fun, but Budgt cuts to the point and gives you a simple, straightforward platform for logging and tracking every penny that leaves your pocket. The great thing about Budgt is that it does all of the hard work for you. Simply tell it what you want to spend over the week, month, or year, and Budgt will tell you how much money is at your disposal every day. Budgt also puts all of your spending into categories, which helps you see exactly how much money you’ve spent on food, transport, entertainment, or even Friday night drinks over certain periods of time. We particularly love the little pie charts it makes using your spending habits.
Get Budgt here.
9. Kitchen Stories – quick and easy food planning
The app store is saturated with cooking apps claiming to turn you into the next Nigella, but sometimes all you need is just inspiration for a quick-fix meal at the end of a long day. Kitchen Stories understands you haven’t always got three hours to prepare a gourmet banquet for 6, and instead brings you step-by-step video and picture tutorials for hundreds delicious dishes. You can add your own notes to each recipe to remember tricks or amendments for next time, or even create entire recipes from scratch and share them with the Kitchen Stories community. One very useful feature is the ability to create a shopping list based on your recipe choices, which is great for planning your evening meal on your way from work to the supermarket.
GetKitchen Stories here.
10. Pushbullet – easy file sharing and transfers
We’ve all emailed ourselves at some point in life, which – when you think about it – is actually the digital equivalent of posting a letter to our own house. Pretty weird. But in an age where we need to manage multiple file formats on multiple devices, it’s sadly sometimes necessary. Pushbullet eliminates the need to self-email by allowing you to share links, files, photos, and more between gadgets like phones and computers in an instant via your favourite messenger. Send stuff to your friends, save a lg of your transfers, and never again suffer the disappointment of getting an email notification that turns out to be from yourself… Get it here.
The app store is drowning in fitness music apps, but RockMyRun has a unique twist. Rather than simply offering pre-built playlists and genres that don’t always match your mood, RockMyRun actually uses the rhythm of your body to choose the right music to spur you on. Link your phone up to a HR tracker, manually input your heart’s beats per minute, or let your phone’s accelerometer track your pace to have a custom workout playlist at the perfect tempo beamed straight to your headphones. It’s as simple and as awesome as that. Get it here.
Time has a habit of slipping through our fingers when we’re staring at a screen for long periods of time, turning minutes, hours, days and weeks into one big unfathomable blur. What did you do last Tuesday morning at the office? Er…Exactly. Hours makes it easy to keep a log of our working day by providing a customisable visual timeline of every task we carry out. Set a timer to stay on track, get handy reminders, add notes for extra depth to your log entries, and view a calendar of your log to see if there are any gaps that need filling in. With Hours, there’s not a single second of your day that can be forgotten. Get it here.
One of the best things about kitchen apps is how food lovers worldwide can connect over great recipes. The downside? Here on the tiny island we call Great Britain, we have no idea what two cups of flour means. No more floury-fingered Googling mid-bake, though, because Kitchen Dial has come to the rescue. Kitchen Dial is a quick and easy way to convert kitchen measurements while you’re hard at working cooking up a treat. That’s really cool in itself, but Kitchen Dial also makes use of your phone’s gyroscope to let you convert by simply tilting your phone towards the measurement you’re aiming for. The app also happens to be rocking an awesome Steampunk vibe, which we’re seriously in love with. Get it here.
It’s great having lovely mates who will lend you a few quid when you’re caught short, but it can sometimes get a bit awkward keeping track of who gave who what, how much, and when – especially if your friends are an overly-generous bunch. With PayPal-run Venmo, you can securely link up your bank account to make transactions, collect payments, see who owes you what, and also who’s waiting for you to cough up. It’s all in a nice casual messaging format to make it as breezy and informal as possible, and there are even emojis in case describing “a glass of red wine, a chicken drumstick, and a portion of chips” with words just isn’t enough. Download it here.
15. Homee – redesign your rooms for free
Tired of your bland, same old living spaces? Homee promises to be your iPhone based interior designer. Upload photos of your rooms to the app and then chat with an interior designer about improvements. Then goggle at a concept board which makes-over your room in the new style. Order the gear that will complete your look and job done. It says it’s free… and of course while the app is, the furniture isn’t. The app’s currently US only.