HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, custom kits — home automation is bigger than ever in 2017, and almost everyone on the iMore staff has embraced it to some degree. We sat down recently to chat about our favorite accessories, and why they make such a difference in our houses, apartments, and condos.
Lory Gil: Philips Hue White and Color Ambience A19 light bulbs
The Hue white and color bulbs, also known as the A19s, are the best all-around smart home gadgets. First, they serve a purpose — to light your house. Second, they look cool — you can make every room in your house a different color. Third, they are actually like a toy — you can make them change colors by syncing them with your movies and music (my favorite feature).
The initial investment in the A19s is a bit pricey because you'll need the Hue Bridge — and you'll definitely want more than one bulb. But after that, you can go all-in with all the Hue smart lights and really make your house shine.
With the latest Hue Bridge, the A19s are HomeKit compatible, too. So you can tell Siri to make your living room blood red (it's pretty creepy when you're watching a horror film).
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Light starter kit, which comes with three bulbs and the Hue Bridge, costs about $190. If you already have the Bridge, you can jump into just the white and color A19s for about $50 each.
Mikah Sargent: Logitech POP Smart Button Kit
The Logitech POP Smart Button was the first HomeKit-enabled programmable switch to hit the market and it's still the best. Sometimes you don't want to have to call on Siri or tap through your favorite HomeKit app to control your HomeKit-enabled accessories and that's where the Logitech POP Smart Button can help you out!
The tiny (just over two inches) clicky square lets you tie actions and scenes to three gestures: press, double press, and long press. As an example, I have a Logitech POP Smart button in my office. One press turns on the lights in the room, two presses turns off the lights in the room, and a long press turns off the very bright LED studio lights I use mostly for video podcasting.
You can set any sort of scene or action combination to be triggered by the POP Smart Button and that's what makes it so excellent. It's also a helpful addition to your smart home setup if you've got guests who'd rather not be invited to an app or use their voice to control the lights in your home. They can count on the physical button with physical gestures to control all the wonky tech in your house. If you'd like to learn more, you can check out my review:
The Logitech POP Smart Button Kit comes with one Logitech POP Smart Button and a HomeKit-enabled POP Bridge that connects with your Wi-Fi and communicates with the POP Smart Buttons you add to your home. You can buy the kit from Apple for $59.95 and add more POP Smart Buttons to your setup for $39.95.
Serenity Caldwell: Nanoleaf Aurora
There are plenty of home automation accessories that can make your home more efficient. But Nanoleaf's Aurora isn't about efficiency: The lighting system instead wants to bring some of the beauty and atmosphere of the wilderness to your living room.
The $199 HomeKit-compatible lighting kit may not offer the practicality of Phillips Hue's lights, but I love it precisely because it's not practical. It grabs attention in a room, bathing it with a calm, ever-pulsing ambiance of customizable color. Relaxing, beautiful, and thought-provoking: It's exactly what I want from smart technology in my home.
Mike Tanasychuk: Braven Stryde 360
I adore Bluetooth speakers. I have at least five kicking around, but the Stryde 360 stands above the rest. It's water-resistant with an IP67 rating — meaning it can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes — so it's perfect for the shower. It's also fairly ruggedly built, so it's great to have outside while working in the yard.
Add in the voice control with support for Google Assistant, Siri, and phone calls, and wrap it up in a slick-looking packge, and you have have a hell of a deal for $100.
Joe Keller: iDevices Switch Connected Smart Plug
So far, I've only dipped my toe into the waters of home automation, and I've been primarily focusing on improving my existing lighting — the perfect use case for the iDevices Switch.
Plug the $50 Switch into an outlet, set it up with HomeKit, and you've suddenly got a smart lamp. You can use the iDevices app to control your Switch, setup HomeKit scenes and rooms, and see how much energy your iDevice products are using. The app also lets you control the Switch's nightlight, an LED strip that runs along the outside of the Switch that changes colors at your command.
And because it works with HomeKit, you can control your lights using Siri, though you can also connect your iDevices account to Amazon to control your lights using Alexa.
Cella Lao Rousseau: Nothing… yet!
As someone who just moved into their very first place less than four months ago, I haven't really had a chance to play around and figure out which smart home accessories work best for me.
There are so many incredible gadgets out there that do so many different, practical things around the home that looking through them all can get a wee bit overwhelming. It's hard to decide which color-changing light bulb reigns supreme over the next, or if the iDevices Switch Connected Smart Plug or Amazon Alexa really is worth the money – especially when you haven't lived on your own long enough to see the actual practicality in those products. Thankfully I have my fellow iMore co-workers around to give me advice, but I'm also curious as to what our readers have to say: What are your favorite products?
TL;DR: I'm a #millennial who just moved out and is as curious about smart home accessories as you are! Tell me about your favorites.
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Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.