Apple’s Home app is pretty nifty if you own an iOS device and HomeKit compatible smart home devices. But if you’re an Android user, you’re probably wondering if there’s a HomeKit alternative. You know, one that actually works with Android devices.
In our search for an alternative, we started by assessing what makes HomeKit so great. We’ve concluded that the beauty of HomeKit is its simplicity. It allows you to combine multiple HomeKit-ready devices without an external hub. Organization of devices is simplified through features like room control and voice control. For Android users, there are several obvious choices like SmartThings and Wink, but both require the purchase of a hub. If you want to get as close to the HomeKit experience as possible, the best two options are Gideon and Yeti.
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Gideon is an app available for both Android and iOS devices. It’s by far, in our opinion, the best HomeKit alternative for Android users. It has a lot of the same features as HomeKit and is compatible with several smart home devices including SmartThings and Wink. Even if you’re an iOS user, but don’t own HomeKit compatible devices, Gideon provides a helpful solution.
The app is divided into four sections: Devices, Rooms, Scenarios, and Groups. From the Device section, you can view each of your compatible devices and interact with them. From the Rooms section, you can view all of the rooms you’ve created on the app. Tapping on a room will show you the room’s listed devices and allow you to interact with them. For example, you can turn your devices on or off, change the color of your lights, change your thermostat’s temperature, etc.
From the Scenarios section, you can view Scenarios, which are multi-device actions. For example, you can have a Scenario called “Good Night” which turns off all of your devices at the same time when you press the Scenario button and/or at a scheduled time. Scenarios can also be a part of Gideon’s integration with IFTTT. You can trigger a Scenario using an IFTTT Applet or a Scenario can trigger an IFTTT action. For example, if a bedroom lamp isn’t compatible with Gideon, but it is compatible with IFTTT. So when you trigger the “Good Night” Scenario, IFTTT turns your bedroom lamp on. As another example, when you trigger your “I’m Home” Scenario, IFTTT can turn on your TV using Logitech Harmony.
Gideon also has app based voice control. You can trigger a voice command using the Gideon app or on your Android device by tapping Gideon’s microphone widget.
Gideon’s voice control feature works well. From the app, you can even rename your devices so that you can use natural language when issuing commands. Gideon also works with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices via the “Gideon Smart Home” Alexa skill. For example, you can say, “Alexa, tell Gideon to turn on the TV.” Gideon doesn’t work with Google Assistant or Siri.
Gideon’s Android app serves up four widgets. The widgets provide control over your various “things” from your home screen. You can control a Device, Scenario, set your home/away status, and create a shortcut for voice commands.
Gideon also has multi-house, multi-user support, and energy management. A note about multi-user support, each user can only use Gideon on one device at a time. When you log in using a new device, it will log you out of your existing session.
Bugs and Issues
Gideon has two issues. One, it sometimes has problems syncing with your smart devices. If it doesn’t sync, you won’t be able to control the device. Sometimes it takes time for the sync to occur. Worst case scenario, you might need to reconfigure the device within the Gideon app. Second, the IFTTT integration is inconsistent. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes for your desired IFTTT Applet to activate.
Yeti is also available for both Android and iOS devices, and it’s also a good HomeKit alternative. It doesn’t have as many device compatibilities as Gideon; however, the user interface is clean, and it performs. On the downside, Yeti’s room control ability is not as well embedded as it is within the Gideon app and Yeti lacks an IFTTT integration.
That said, the app is young and the company behind it currently has a crowdfunding campaign to add more devices and features.1 The campaign is not your normal crowdfunding campaign as the website treats backers more like investors with investment returns and voting power provided to those who provide more funds. The crowdfunding campaign also alludes to a future paid subscription.
In its current state, the app has three sections: Charms, Your Home, and Routines. “Charms” are multi-device actions. For example, you can create a Charm called “Good Night” which turns off all of your devices when pressed. Charms can also be widgets on your Android Home screen. The “Your Home” option is as its name implies, a section that shows all of your home’s devices, rooms, and device status. From this section, you can also interact with your devices, move devices to different rooms, and create rooms. And like the Gideon app, you can add more than one home to your Yeti account. Finally, “Routines” are actions you can activate based on the day of the week and/or time. For example, “turn on my house lights at 7 PM on the weekdays.”
Bugs and Issues
Yeti’s bugs and issues are mostly related to Charms and Rooms being duplicated. You can fix this issue by deleting duplicated items. If that doesn’t work, log out of your account, close the app, restart, and try again. Fair warning, this bug is common.
As the apps stand now and based on our experience, we have to give the edge to Gideon as the better of the two apps. Gideon has more compatible devices, an IFTTT integration, better widgets, and it’s less buggy. The thing we like most about Yeti is how easily you can turn things on, off, and control them. Using Gideon, you must tap the device to control it. However, this minor convenience is Yeti’s only advantage.