Why Mobile App is the Key to Successful Smart Home Solution

Credits: Yuri Dekovic

According to Alarm.com’s Homeowners Survey conducted in 2016, 54% of customers consider smart home products too complicated to understand and set up.

Imagine, a half of your customers can omit and ignore your product simply because they’re afraid it’s too sophisticated.

Why Customers Are Afraid of Smart Home Solutions

If you take any smart home device, from a smart doorbell to a thermostat to a smart toothbrush, you’ll see that physically they often seem to look and behave the same. You still need to push a button for a doorbell to ring, and you still use your toothbrush to brush your, well, teeth.

The complications arrive when users need to set the devices up and use them. And since most smart devices require a mobile app to communicate with, this is where all the troubles come.

Turns out, some smart toothbrushes have over a dozen of modes, and you should pick one before using it. The smart doorbell may also require an expensive smart hub or cause situations when you will be unable to know that someone’s ringing because your phone is blocked, or it’s on a silent/night mode, or there’s no Internet connectivity, etc.

The smart home devices are not difficult to understand; it’s the apps that are too stressful to use, too unpredictable in their behavior, too overloaded with unnecessary functions.

On the contrary, making an app for your smart home product right may alone dramatically make it successful in eight different ways. Let’s talk about them in more details.

8 Ways How Mobile Apps Make Smart Home Devices Great

The first reason why an app does not meet user expectations is that it simply is not compatible with their device park.

For instance, you made an app for Android, but not for iOS. Or your device may work with Google Home but has no support of Apple’s HomeKit. Or it runs on Z-Wave, while a user doesn’t have a Z-Wave hub to operate it via a smartphone.

For most customers smart home is a technology intended to make people’s lives easier. Yes, some devices save energy and cut utility bills, but in the end, it’s still about the comfort of use. It’s great to have things that just work.

In 2017, many home automation solutions still force users to open mobile apps and spend time figuring out complicated mechanisms behind the application’s logic.

The app should create the «yes, that makes my life easier» feeling for your solution to hit the right spot and succeed.

Updates are most frequently intended to present new functionality for managing your device. But user satisfaction is not only about functionality, but also about the ease of use and reliability. If you focus on these things when releasing new versions, your app updates will increase the level of user engagement and loyalty to your brand dramatically.

Credit: Royex

Different stats show an average smartphone user opens from 10 to 20 apps every day. If you want your application to be among these top 20 names, it must provide user experience so smooth and intuitive that users will want to open it every day.

Of course, an app controlling lights in the apartment won’t beat Facebook, but it can definitely bring more positive emotions that the social network’s sophisticated functionality for managing your data privacy.

Your application is the user’s window to the smart home device. A smart sensor, a bulb or a door lock are nothing special if there’s no mobile app the user can open and interact with: see CO2 level, turn the lights on and off, open the door and so on.

That brings an important implication: the functionality of the app defines the quality of the whole solution. If your app is basically an on/off switch for a light bulb, the device will turn out to be too boring (even if you plan to bring mind-blowing updates in the future). And on the contrary, if your app is overloaded with functionality, then we return to the problem of the overcomplicated solutions.

If something goes wrong, the users again tend to blame the whole solution.

For instance, a user may accidentally stop the firmware update process and brick the device. Or they can have their Bluetooth turned off. Or try to set the thermostat temperature in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. If the user can’t figure out the source of the problem, they will blame the solution for its complexity.

Same goes for the application errors. The app won’t open the door? ‘The door lock must be broken’. The lights don’t turn off? ‘Classic bulbs are more reliable’. In the meanwhile, the problem may be hidden in an incorrect app update or even in a user’s glitchy Wi-Fi. In such cases, smart error explanations can be the bare minimum to handle the situation (and the best thing is to prevent or design these corner cases to be well-informing and easy-to-understand when it comes to interfaces).

A smart home is about making life at home simpler. For many people, it means that a home should remind them about important stuff. For instance, that they are leaving the door unlocked for the night. Or that the light in the bathroom is on. Or there’s an energy-consuming device turned on for too long in that smart outlet.

Other popular concerns are privacy and confidentiality. If you can make your app look and feel as a one protecting user data, it will definitely get more attention on the market.

In the end, check what your users expect from your kind of home automation device and give it to them in an unobtrusive manner.

Finally, a mobile app remains a mobile app, even if it manages a home automation device. If it doesn’t look modern, if it doesn’t follow design guidelines or is not optimized for some sizes and OS versions, you’ll lose some of your users.

How To Properly Focus On Developing Your App

If an app is such an important part of any smart home solution, how to make it right?

Of course, you can either build your own team of developers, or you can turn to a partner like us who will provide you with a team of development experts ready to consult you, help you make right technical decisions and build a beautiful app.

In both cases, the main thing we recommend to keep in mind is that just like any other project, developing a successful application requires experience and deep expertise. The more of your team has, the fewer risks there are that you’ll come up with a cheesy product.

Most product owners start smart home projects with building an iOS app. After that, they proceed to creating to an Android version. If this is going to be your case, see our post How to Build an Android App Effectively After iOS product is Ready to avoid pitfalls common for such cases.

And feel free to visit our new Brainbean Apps site.

Content Strategist @ IT. Avid reader @ Life.