The Philips Hue system 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, 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.
Like Ambify, it syncs your lights to your music, but it can also be used as a mood lamp, 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 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 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) [No longer available]
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 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.
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.
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) [No longer available]
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.
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) [No longer available]
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.
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.
Download: Lightbow for iOS ($4.99)
Unleash the Power of Hue
The Hue system is great for smartening the lights 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!