Apps to run your home (or will they run you?)

Whether you like Apple or Android, Mac or PC, the reality is that we now all have options for “App’s”. Some are useful. Some are not. Some are downright silly. Nonetheless, the “App” is here to stay.

Being in the business I am in, new clients, friends, family all want to know if you can use apps to run your home. A typical conversation often ends up with a question like this: “Gee Nick, you must be able to do all this through your iPhone by now right? Gosh it must be cool”.

Yes it is. Cool indeed. Like anything though, there can be some pitfalls so it takes a measure of expertise to make it work really well.

Or will they run you…..In the old days every electronic product had some sort of remote control (actually, most still do but that’s another story). This seems dandy until you realize that your coffee table is full of remotes. Each device will claim how easy it is to use but when combined with the other devices, it becomes a confusing mess for everyone (except of course for your young kids who know exactly what is what).

Are apps on your phone any different? Nope. In fact it is an identical problem and creates the digital equivalent of a coffee table full of remotes. You end up with an app for your music system, an app for your lights, an app for your thermostat, an app for your cameras, etc. etc. And just like their handheld predecessors, each one looks and functions a little differently.

At this point you are either nodding your head in agreement or are thinking that this is app stuff is for the birds. Alas, do not worry. With the right design and mix of products, you can have just one app that runs all of your house systems. Think of it as a universal remote control of the app world. These solutions provide a clean and consistent user interface while also making everything work together as a system.

Now you are probably thinking “this sounds great but it must cost and arm and leg”. A natural question but fortunately, the “all in” cost of doing an integrated approach will not be much more than the “all in” long haul cost of having separate systems and apps. Not counting the cost of frustration, having separate systems and apps easily adds up but we likely never tally the total.

Coming full circle, it is indeed convenient and cool to be able to run your house systems from a mobile device. If you are planning on doing just one or two things (say a thermostat and a camera), you will be fine having two apps but once you start getting beyond that point it would be highly worth your while to investigate the benefits of having a consolidated and integrated approach instead of individual apps to run your home.