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The Philips Hue system Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue If you can afford the initial expenditure, you won't find a better-supported and more user-friendly smart lighting system on the market. Read More has its own app, but why settle for the default when there’s so many cooler options out there? These 8 apps give you fabulous options for using your lights to create some really cool effects, from matching your movie to syncing with music.

Music Light Shows: Ambify

Whether you’re having a dance party or enjoying some calm music with friends, Ambify will sync your Hue lights to your music, creating a cool light show that works well with your tunes, no matter what you’re listening to. By combining a music player, iTunes library access, playlists, and AirPlay streaming What's AirPlay, And How To Use It In Mac OS X Mountain Lion What's AirPlay, And How To Use It In Mac OS X Mountain Lion Imagine you want to play your favorite album in Spotify. Naturally, you'll be hooking your computer up to a better sound station. But what if you're lying in bed, or sitting on the couch? Ideally,... Read More , Ambify serves as an all-in-one DJ setup on your phone.

There’s also an Ambify app for OS X, which adds even more power to your audio experience, as it’s able to capture all system audio and can be controlled by an Apple remote.

Download: Ambify for iOS ($2.99)

Disco Dance Floor: Hue Disco

Hue Disco is a great alternative to Ambify if you have an Android phone (though also available on iOS). The major difference between it and Ambify is that Hue Disco listens to an external sound source via the microphone, so you can play music from any device and leave your phone to control the lights.

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Like Ambify, it syncs your lights to your music, but it can also be used as a mood lamp Holi Smart Mood Lamp Review and Giveaway Holi Smart Mood Lamp Review and Giveaway Is the Holi Smart Mood Lamp the ultimate night lamp? Mood lamp? Disco ball? Read More , which will change the colorset of your lights on an interval, and allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the music detector; so if you’re listening to something that’s sending your lights a little crazy, you can just dampen the sensor a bit. Or if you want things to get crazy, go for strobe mode.

Download: Hue Disco for iOS ($2.99)

Download: Hue Disco for Android ($2.99)

Amp up Movies and Games: Huey

Adding a light system to change the ambient light in your room to match the movie you’re watching Build Your Own Dynamic Ambient Lighting For A Media Center Build Your Own Dynamic Ambient Lighting For A Media Center If you watch a lot of movies on your PC or media center, I'm sure you've faced the lighting dilemma; do you completely turn off all lights? Do you keep them on full blast? Or... Read More or game you’re playing is a great way to create an immersive experience. By placing your lights in the right places around the room (they’re best when they light up the walls well), the colors on your screen will be reflected around the room, making you feel even closer to the events on screen.

Having a huge Ultra HD or 4K TV Should You Buy A 4K / Ultra HD Television? Should You Buy A 4K / Ultra HD Television? About a decade ago, manufacturers started to sell what's now widely known as an HDTV. But now HD is old news, so the industry has decided to push another new technology; Ultra HD, also known... Read More will give you an immersive experience on its own, but if your movie or game night includes some synced Hue lights, it’ll take it to a whole new level!

Download: Huey for Android (free)

Transport Your Party: OnSwitch

Ever wished you could have your party somewhere warmer? Or somewhere colder? How about in a forest? With OnSwitch, you can create atmospheres based on different places through your Hue lights. The Albuquerque effect, for example, uses the colors of the New Mexico desert; the Autumn Leaves effect gives you warm oranges, reds, and yellows; you can even get in the Christmas spirit with a crackling log effect.

 

OnSwitch has been releasing new themes on holidays lately, so you can expect them to keep coming out with new themes in the future. Even if they don’t have your preferred destination available yet, it could be coming soon! OnSwitch also works with LIFX, one of the alternatives to Hue Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It The Philips Hue system is leading the charge when it comes to smart lighting, but there are some worthy alternatives. We've picked three that all offer the same basic feature set and hackability. Read More that’s actually worth buying.

Download: OnSwitch for iOS (free)

Show Off Your Lights: Scintillator

The Hue app and others allow you to set your lights cycling through themes or pictures, but Scintillator gives you full control over all of the aspects of the cycles. It takes a while to get set up, so you won’t want to be doing it during a party, but if you set up a cool cycle before everyone arrives, you can really show off what your lights can do.

scintillator

With animations, colors, and the ability to mix Hue and LIFX, Scintillator gives you all the power you could want over your smart light system.

Download: Scintillator for iOS ($2.99)

Just the Basics: Magma Hue

The Hue app and most of the others on this list can be pretty complicated to use. While non-Philips apps tend to have better reviews, it can still take a few taps to get your lights set up how you want. Not so with Magma Hue. With an extremely simple interface, all you have to do is tap a color and adjust a slider for brightness. That’s it.

magma-hue

You don’t want to be messing around with switches and dials on your phone when people are over, or when you just want to relax. Magma Hue takes all the effort out of managing your Hue bulbs.

Download: Magma Hue for iOS (free)

Control Hue with Voice: Hue Remote

Sure, tapping your phone to adjust your lights is pretty cool, but what if you could just talk and have your lights respond? With Hue Remote, you can. It offers a simple, aesthetically pleasing interface, and you can use it for voice control of your lights.

hue-remote

It won’t let you do quite as many complicated things as the other apps on the list, but voice control of your lights definitely feels futuristic.

Download: Hue Remote for iOS ($2.99)

Create the Ultimate Show: Lightbow

Most of the above apps require some compromise, but Lightbow is the most full-featured smart lamp app you could ask for. It controls Hue, LIFX, and WeMo bulbs; includes presets, animations, and triggers; and allows you to easily make changes to single or groups of bulbs.

lightbow

Effect transitions, multi-step animation loops, single-tap activation, and the ability to organize everything into collections makes Lightbow the complete controller for your smart bulb system, even if you’ve mixed a number of different bulb systems. It’ll even control your WeMo outlets 3 Ways The Belkin WeMo Can "Smarten" Your Regular Household Lamps 3 Ways The Belkin WeMo Can "Smarten" Your Regular Household Lamps We took the time to look at the possibilities for turning your regular household lamps into smart lamps. Read More .

Download: Lightbow for iOS ($4.99)

Unleash the Power of Hue

The Hue system is great for smartening the lights Brighten Your Home With Smart Lamps: Here Are Your Options Brighten Your Home With Smart Lamps: Here Are Your Options What exactly is a smart lamp, and what's out there? Read More in your house, but the companion app leaves a bit to be desired. These 8 apps will give you all the power that you need to control your lights the way you want and add some serious atmosphere to your house, no matter what you have planned—a party, a movie night, or just a quiet evening in.

Have you used any of these apps? What’s your favorite way to control your Hue lights? Share your thoughts below!

  1. Martin Lavoie
    October 17, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Where are apps for Windows ?? How i could control Hue light with a windows desktop PC or laptop ?

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      I'm not sure; I came to this article with a focus on mobile apps. I'm sure there are some good desktop ones out there, though!

  2. Mauricio
    May 26, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Will any of these apps appear on the lockscreen of an android phone? Quicker to go to the actual switch rather than unlocking the phone, searching for the app, etc.

    • Dann Albright
      May 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Not that I'm aware of, but I'm not an Android user, so hopefully someone with experience with these apps will chime in with a better answer!

  3. Mirimon
    December 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Hm, so far none of the ambilight type apps or addons function nominally. Xbmc is the fastest to respond, but I also need something smart enough to dynamically adjust several lights accordingly based on positional values of lighting on screen.

    Honestly, I have a feealing the only way it will really work well lag free would be through built in code that comes with the film, or some sort of passthrough hdmi link and assigning positions relative to the sources.

    • Dann Albright
      January 2, 2016 at 2:00 am

      Built-in code would be fantastic; I wonder if that's something that companies are looking into. I can see why it would be a little slow to update, as that's quite a bit of information that needs to be transmitted and processed. If you find another app or system that works better, please let us know, and I'll keep an eye out for any other information on improving performance!

    • bobby
      January 26, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      that is correct, otherwise there will always be lag, which takes more out of the experience than adds to it, amhik. plus the popcorn effect is pretty prevalent with even the second generation hue bridge.

      • Chris
        February 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm

        The SyFy channel just released an app (aptly named SyFy Sync) the syncs Hue with their TV shows. I've only tried it once and it works well. It's subtle which I like so that it does not distract you from the show.

        • Dann Albright
          February 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm

          Cool! Thanks for pointing that out—sounds like a good sign for more TV channels doing that in the future. That'd be really great if Netflix or Amazon Prime integrated this tech into their shows. I have no idea how much effort it would take to do that, but I can imagine that customers would really appreciate it.

  4. Costis
    November 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Kodi/xbmc has an addon for Philips hue as well. Ambient lighting for movies, music... check it out.

    • Dann Albright
      November 27, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      That's a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Dmitry Sadakov
    June 26, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Ah you guys forgot http://ambieye.com - it's voice control, search api for millions of themes!

  6. Anonymous
    March 20, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Also checkout Hue Camera: http://www.hue-camera.com

    • Dann Albright
      March 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Another one I was not aware of–thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Hue Menu
    March 20, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    You can add humenu.com for Mac! A great Mac App for Philips Hue lights!

    • Dann Albright
      March 29, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I hadn't seen that before, but it looks like a great app. Thanks for posting!

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