The setup guide that comes with each smart home device usually tells you to download the companion app as a first step. You may need to scan a QR code or enter a serial number, so be sure to do this process before you mount anything in place or throw anything in the trash, as these codes usually appear on the back or bottom of devices or in the instruction manual. Other powerful systems, such as Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro (which has a built-in mesh router), focus more on the security aspect of the smart home and have more limited third-party support. Ecobee puts the guts of an Echo into its excellent Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control, while Lenovo was the first to market Google Home devices equipped with screens (the Lenovo Smart Display series).
No single solution can seamlessly automate your entire home, but installing and managing multiple smart devices is easier than ever. With so many different products in so many ecosystems, building a smart home can seem like an overwhelming logical puzzle. One way to build a smart home is to buy a lot of components, sensors, smart bulbs, security cameras, speakers, and so on, and connect them all to a hub that helps them communicate with each other and with you, through your smartphone. Before you start buying exclusive smart home products, keep in mind that you can use a smart plug to easily transform common devices, such as lamps, fans and coffee makers, into smart devices that you can control with your phone.
In addition to protecting your home, many smart home security systems also provide a platform for integrating and controlling multiple home automation devices through a single application. One of the most powerful ways to make different smart home devices work together is to open an IFTTT account. If you prefer a more practical approach, companies like ADT and Vivint can send a team of professional installers to install sensors and other components in your home. From understanding connectivity protocols and voice assistants to choosing the best products, setting up a smart home isn't as simple as it seems.
If your wants and needs are simpler, just a few relatively inexpensive products will provide you with most of the amenities that a high-end smart home with a much more modest budget can offer. You can control the basic functions of many smart home devices directly via Wi-Fi and a complementary mobile application. And while Amazon has maintained the lead for the past few years, has a much larger installed base, has enjoyed much broader support and has had the only smart speakers with screens for a while, Google is gaining ground. And if you ensure that those smart home products are compatible with each other, you'll create a solid foundation that you can expand over time.