While some smart home systems require hubs, some mobile applications connect directly to a router, which connects directly to an IoT device. Of course, it’s preferable when there’s no hub, as that’s just an added cost on top of the cost of the IoT device itself.
The hallmark of smart home is remote control, which is done through either a mobile application or through a voice assistant.
The mobile application allows users to control their devices in real-time, whether it’s shutting off the outdoor lights or opening the smart garage door for a neighbour. The app is also where users set schedules, create scenes, groups of IoT devices, and customize device settings, like having your living room lights set to the perfect shade of blue. Most of the IoT devices we’ve reviewed have apps for Android and iOS devices, making them compatible with the majority of mobile devices and tablets.
If smart home is the sundae, think of voice assistants as the cherry on top. With voice assistants, you can use your voice to control devices, whether that’s disarming a security system as you walk in the front door, showing your video doorbell’s footage on your device, or setting a timer on a smart speaker while your hands are full of cooking utensils. Most IoT devices work with one of three voice assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.
Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant that’s built into Echo Show and Echo Dot devices (for more information, check out our Echo Show review and our Echo Dot with Clock review). Alexa is the voice assistant we see integrated into the highest number of smart home devices from companies.
Google Assistant, is, as you can imagine, Google’s voice assistant. Although Google Assistant has fewer “skills” or “actions” than Alexa, it has been proven to be the most accurate voice assistant in terms of understanding and answering queries correctly. To get Google Assistant, you’ll need a smart speaker or a smart display.
Siri is Apple’s voice assistant that’s integrated into the iPhone. While Siri holds 35 percent of the global market share for voice assistants, compared to nine percent and four percent with Google Assistant and Alexa,3 respectively, there aren’t too many IoT devices that work with Siri. Rather, the voice assistant is used mainly on iPhones and iPads in contrast to smart home devices, where Alexa and Google Assistant reign supreme.