Using Samsung SmartThings is one of the easiest ways to turn your house into a smart home. You don’t need to spend lots of money or install fancy infrastructure — just buy a hub and some devices, and you’ll be up and running in no time.
To get your connected devices working exactly how you want, you need to use SmartApps. SmartApps manage the customizable automations and rules that govern how your devices react to different circumstances.
SmartApps come in lots of shapes and sizes. You can find official apps released by from Samsung and device manufacturers, third-party community projects, or even create your own. The apps themselves can do everything from controlling your lights to feeding your dogs.
So which are the best third-party apps to use with your SmartThings system? Keep reading to find out.
1. Talking Alarm Clock
If you own a Sonos speaker system, the Talking Alarm Clock SmartApp should be at the top of your shopping list.
Just connect the alarms to your Sonos setup and they’ll play at predetermined times. You can also make the alarms play customized sounds or even your favorite radio station — and you can even make the speakers “talk” to you.
By the way, @Sonos make for a great alarm clock.
— Scott Wasserman (@applehockey) March 7, 2017
If you want to take things a step further, you can try connecting other devices to the alarm. Perhaps you want the lights in the bathroom to turn on in the morning or the central heating to click into action before you get home from work in the winter.
Download — Talking Alarm Clock
2. VLC Thing
Sonos might be the best smart speaker on the market, but it’s also one of the most expensive. If you can’t justify spending several hundred dollars on each speaker but still want the benefits of Talking Alarm Clock, try using VLC Thing instead.
VLC Thing is a device driver for VLC Media Player. It can play sounds and audio message through any device that’s running VLC, thus emulating Sonos integrations. All you need to get started is an old laptop which you can use for dedicated audio output.
Download — VLC Thing
SmartRules is like IFTTT for SmartThings. Each “rule” has three parts: the trigger (“if [something] happens”), the condition (“while [something] is true”), and action (“then perform [action]”).
The list of events for each of the three parts is vast. For example, you could get a security camera to take a photo if a door is open while your alarm is active, or you could ask the lights to turn on if your alarm goes off while it’s dark outside.
At the time of writing, the app is only available on iOS. The developer claims they are working on an Android version.
Download — SmartRules
If you’re on Android, don’t despair. You can use SharpTools instead. It lets you control and program SmartThings gadgets using Tasker, a separate Android app that’s been popular among customization fanatics for many years.
The app works in a similar way to SmartRules: it reacts to changes in your smart home environment, lets you control devices by voice, and performs conditional actions (for example, if the door opens, then sound an alarm).
SharpTools also comes with a widget, meaning you can control your smart home directly from your Android’s home screen; there’s no need to constantly jump between apps.
Download — SharpTools
5. Ask Alexa
Some users think Alexa is actually rather dumb, but if you hook her into your SmartThings setup using the Ask Alexa SmartApp, there’s no denying her intelligence.
Ask Alexa replaces the basic integration between SmartThings and Alexa, and it significantly expands the number of devices Alexa can communicate with (the default app only works with switches and thermostats). Using Ask Alexa, you can get real-time feedback on the status of your smart home devices and program macros that use your speech to trigger events.
Obviously, you need an Amazon Echo (or another Alexa-enabled device) to be able to use the app.
Download — Ask Alexa
6. Goodnight SmartHome
If you’ve had a long day at the office and your brain is feeling sluggish, you could easily forget to shut a window or lock a door when you go to sleep. Similarly, if you fall asleep on the sofa, you don’t want to walk around your house checking everything when you eventually stir. You just want to crawl into bed.
Goodnight SmartHome is the solution. When you trigger it (either using your voice or the SmartThings app), it will check your windows, doors, locks, and other devices. If any of them report an undesirable state, the app will alert you to the problem.
Download — Goodnight SmartHome
ActionTiles (formerly SmartTiles) is a cloud-based dashboard that displays all the smart home gadgets around your home along with their status. The developers call it “a homepage for your home.” It’s a web app, meaning it can run on Android, iOS, and desktop.
Using the app, you can turn lights on/off, change the volume of smart speakers, adjust your thermostats, see video feeds from your security system, get real-time feedback on water monitors and motion sensors, and a whole lot more.
The app costs $23.99 per license.
Download — Action Tiles
8. NST Manager
NST Manager (formerly Nest Manager) is a Nest device manager. It works with Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, Nest Camera, Nest Weather, and Nest Presence.
For each device, there are a number of actions you can instigate using the app. For instance, you can change the operating mode of your thermostats, see humidity graphs, watch the “last motion” events on your cameras, and monitor the battery life of your smoke detectors.
Download — NST Manager
9. Big Talker
Have you ever wished you could have a conversation with your house? The Big Talker SmartApp brings the dream one step closer.
If you use your SmartThings system with any audio output app (e.g. Sonos, AskAlexa, VLC Thing, etc), you can make Big Talker tell you whenever any event occurs.
— Greg Harper (@GregHarpers) November 11, 2015
Right now, 12 events are supported. They include lock, smoke, presence, water, acceleration, time, motion, and switch.
Download — Big Talker
If you have a lot of locally-saved media, Plex is a must-have app. Plex lets you organize, watch, and cast all your entertainment around your home with ease.
However, if you connect Plex with your SmartThings setup, it gets even better. Using Plex2SmartThings, you can synchronize your lights and switches with the app’s video controls.
For example, if you press play, you can make all the lights in your lounge turn off. Or if you press pause, all the lights will turn on and the kettle will start to boil. You can even set special conditions for trailers. The choices are endless.
Download — Plex2SmartThings
Which Third-Party Apps Do You Use With SmartThings?
If you use these 10 third-party apps, you’ll soon be living in a smart home that will be the envy of your neighborhood.
But there are thousands of great apps to choose from, and many deserve more recognition than they get. So now I want you to share your favorites. Which apps have turned your SmartThings setup into an essential smart home system?
Let me know all your tips and recommendations in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Creativa Images/Shutterstock