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Using Samsung SmartThings is one of the easiest ways to turn your house into a smart home How Amazon Echo Can Make Your Home A Smart Home How Amazon Echo Can Make Your Home A Smart Home Smart home tech is still in its early days, but a new product from Amazon called "Echo" may help bring it into the mainstream. Read More . 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 Sonos vs. Chromecast Audio: Which Is Best For You? Sonos vs. Chromecast Audio: Which Is Best For You? A lot of people seem to think Sonos and Chromecast Audio are the same thing, but they wold be mistaken. While their core purpose might be the same, the differences between them are vast... Read More , 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 How to Send Voice Notifications to Sonos Speakers How to Send Voice Notifications to Sonos Speakers Today, I'll show you how to set up voice notifications on your Sonos system, using IFTTT recipes, OpenHAB integrations, and more. Read More .

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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.

DownloadTalking Alarm Clock

2. VLC Thing

Sonos might be the best smart speaker on the market Buying Wireless Speakers? How to Pick the Best System for You Buying Wireless Speakers? How to Pick the Best System for You Don't make an investment in a wireless speaker system without taking these considerations into account. A little bit of thought can save you a world of money, time, and trouble! Read More , 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.

DownloadVLC Thing

3. SmartRules

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]”).

smartrules for smartthings

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.

DownloadSmartRules

4. SharpTools

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 Tasker and IFTTT: The Perfect Automation Duo For Android Tasker and IFTTT: The Perfect Automation Duo For Android Tasker automates anything you can think of on your Android device and IFTTT automates Web services. Used together, there's nothing you can't do. Read More 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.

DownloadSharpTools

5. Ask Alexa

Some users think Alexa is actually rather dumb Let's Face It: Amazon Echo's Alexa Is Stupid Let's Face It: Amazon Echo's Alexa Is Stupid There's no doubt voice-controlled assistants are the future, but is Alexa the solution? Perhaps not. In this article, I'm going to argue Alexa is actually rather stupid. Read More , 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.

DownloadAsk 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.

woman sleep
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

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.

DownloadGoodnight SmartHome

7. ActionTiles

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.

action tiles smartthings

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.

DownloadAction 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.

DownloadNST 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.

Right now, 12 events are supported. They include lock, smoke, presence, water, acceleration, time, motion, and switch.

DownloadBig Talker

10. Plex2SmartThings

If you have a lot of locally-saved media, Plex is a must-have app 8 Plex Tricks and Tips You Really Need to Know 8 Plex Tricks and Tips You Really Need to Know Plex is a stunning piece of software. Put simply, it lets you stream your media anywhere in the world, on any device, whenever you want. But there is so much more to it than that... Read More . 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.

DownloadPlex2SmartThings

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

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  1. Bryan Wolfe
    May 31, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Informative list. Lots of stuff here I never heard of :)

  2. whoismoses
    May 25, 2017 at 1:59 am

    I can't really consider this a valid article without listing CoRE or webCoRE as #1. Does the author of this article use SmartThings?

  3. Terry Gauchat
    May 24, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    We are honored to be a part of this list, Dan, thanks!

    Let me know where I can send you a more up-to-date screen shot / photos of ActionTiles. SmartTiles looks great, but we like to keep the news nice and current.

    Cheers,
    ...Terry, of ActionTiles.com

  4. Sebastian
    May 24, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I feel an important one is missing: WebCore (probably the most powerful rules engine for ST).

  5. Andrea
    May 24, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Great article Dan, I use almost all of these apps. I have a smart home consulting business primarily using ST and Alexa. With Michael Struck being able to pull community developers together to integrate their apps (example BigTalker) with Ask Alexa it unfolds yet another level. Michael and I have already spoken about this post.
    I also use Eric Thayers Lock Manager, Barry has done a great open source Ecobee app, Anthony has revived a GCal App, and Kevin has done great apps and DTH's to accommodate multiple DLink camera's. There are so many - I do use them all!

    I am an Alexa Champion for Amazon and work deligently on voice automation in the home.
    Much appreciation for your article. I was not aware of your site until today. I will definitely bookmark and keep tabs. We are on Twitter @smarthouseaz
    Best regards,
    Andrea