How to Make a Home Automation App for Smart Home Control

16 min read
Nov 01, 2021
How to Make a Home Automation App for Smart Home Control
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Comfort and safety are the basic needs of every person, so it is not surprising that along with the development of technology, they began to affect not only our smartphones and other digital devices, but also our regular household items. That’s why home automation app development is at its peak with more than 258 million smart homes worldwide. For people who want to make a smart home applications are a tool to control all of the devices.

Creating a smart home app, however, may seem like a challenge for those, who have no previous experience. For that exact reason, we at ProCoders collected in one place all the information you need – from types of applications to practical tips for creating them.

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And if you want to hire app developers to create a smart home app to push your business forward, we may help you with that. As a company that specializes in staff augmentation and has impressive experience with IoT projects, we can deliver the results you want in no time.

Smart Home Market Brief Overview

The market for smart home applications can be easily described as constantly growing and developing. The number of active households, for example, is expected to reach 497 million users, demonstrating a 92% growth comparing it to 2021. At the same time, the market penetration is projected to double from 12.3% in 2021 to 23.9% in 2025.

Now, the most prominent country to use smart home products is definitely the US, accounting for 40% of the global market of consumer spending in this segment. According to Rochester Real Estate, about 47% of US-based millennials own at least one smart home product and 57% of Americans in general, consider IoT technology to be incredibly time-saving. Even realtors admit that if they build a app-controlled smart home they sell it faster than a regular one.

smart home app demand

Revenue in the smart home industry is expected to increase as technology advances. According to smart appliance statistics on sales and revenue in the smart technology homeware sector, the US market alone is expected to grow at a 14.3 percent rate (2020–2024), reaching approximately $47.12 million in four years.

If we would look at the worldwide revenue for smart home devices plus associated services (including apps), we would see a rapid increase from 38,796 million to 182,442 million, the difference being almost fivefold.

home automation app revenue forecast in the World from 2017 to 2025
Smart Home – revenue forecast in the World from 2017 to 2025
(in million U. S. dollars)

Among the companies, Amazon is the most popular in this segment, securing 69.7% of the American market, followed by GoogleNest with 31.1%. Other big companies include AppleHomeKit, Ecobee, Bosch Smart Home Solutions, and Phillips Hue.

Hence, the desire to create a smart home app is understandable. Rarely can one find such a healthy and advanced market, which would create good starting conditions and, at the same time, would have the prospect of a global expansion of business from developed to developing countries?

How Does Smart Home Automation Work?

In order to build your own smart home app you need to know what is it exactly and how does it work. A standard “smart home” is a system of switches, sensors, and safety units, which are controlled through a central controller or a wall-mounted control panel.

By that definition, home automation is a network of hardware and electronic interfaces that connect household devices to the Internet, and, subsequently, to your smartphone or tablet. In other words, by a simple tap on their phones, people can turn the lights on in their apartment or start making coffee while being miles away, or schedule a certain activity and watch it being done regularly.

smart home devises control

There are two main components to this process: automation and remote control. Automation is when you program devices to turn on and off on their own, and remote control, as easy as it sounds, is being able to control devices from the distance.

All control is carried out from the hub – the center of the entire system, with the help of which all the objects that are connected to it are activated. Thus, the user can control the elements of his own home while in the office or on the go, with a few taps of the smartphone screen.

Types of Smart Home Applications

When you develop a smart home automation app you need to keep in mind the number of services and functions your app would support. According to this criterion, two large groups of applications are distinguished:

  • A single-task app. An app designed to track only one technology, for example controlling only one device (or a homogenous group of devices) like apps for robot vacuum cleaners or lighting.
comparing smart home app types
  • A multi-task app. This one can cater to more devices and therefore is more preferable when you have multiple smart products. A multi-task app can simultaneously control lighting, temperature, doors, cameras – well, everything, that you will add to it. They help reduce digital waste by eliminating doubling apps and creating a single ecosystem for the devices. According to Alarm.com, about 88% of homeowners who use smart devices would prefer to have one multi-task app for them all.
comparing smart home app types

Key Features of a Home Automation App

Probably the most important step in smart home app development is determining which features you want to include. Today, technologies allow the application to have all sorts of special functions, and from our end, we would like to advise you to pay attention to the following:

1. Remote Control and Automation

It goes without saying that a well-made smart home app should have these two features, as they are in the very essence of it. When you make an app for smart homes, users should be able to have access to each and every one of the devices no matter how far they are and set programmed regimes. One of the advantages of a smart home is to be able to “warm-up” the house before returning from work or to make yourself a coffee while still lying in bed.

2. Push-notifications

Competently setting up notifications is another important feature we suggest thinking about. The user should be able to change and fine-tune all notification settings to separate essentials from non-essentials. They should not be overly intrusive, but at the same time, they should notify the user about the state of the devices and the house overall.

push notifications in smart home devises

3. User Roles

Especially important for those who live in a large family or share space with roommates. The existence of user roles allows to define what functions will be available to each user, which helps to limit access, for example, small children to automatically unlock doors, but at the same time will allow them to control the light or thermostat.

4. Different Scenarios

Not necessarily a key feature, but more of a bonus that would 100% attract more users – the ability to create different scenarios by grouping some of the actions. For example, the “leaving” scenario would include turning off all the lights, the thermostat, turning on the alarms and motion sensors.

The “bedtime” scenario may turn off the bright ceiling lamps and turn on night lights on your bedside table and set the thermostat for the correct temperature. The speaker can even play lullabies or meditation guides to help fall asleep!

5. Personal analytics

This little touch is how to make a home automation app rise to the next level of comfort. By tracking and analyzing patterns of using certain devices (how often and what exactly they watch on TV, what food is cooked on the stove, what foods are stored in the refrigerator, when they come home from work) an app can send reports and users will be able to analyze the usual rhythm of life and, possibly, even make some adjustments to their lifestyle.

Main Components to Consider When Building Your Own Smart Home App

Having multiple devices hooked up to a single network, controlled from your smartphone, is the most convenient your life can get – all with the help of three main components.

  • Sensors detect changes in daylight, temperature, or movement, and with the help of the system’s settings can tailor the reaction to these changes according to your preferences.
  • Actuators are things like switches, valves, or motors – those that can mechanically affect the control object.
  • The devices that are used to control the features and send or receive messages from the system are called controllers. It could be your smartphone, a tablet, or a PC. Usually, it is called a Central Hub, and it is like the brain of the whole system, controlling all the smart products from a central place.

These three elements tied together make a home automation service – a single system in place that works well and smoothly. A system like that can control a countless number of services like light automation, thermostat control, recording a surveillance video in real-time, setting up alarm systems, enabling keyless entry, and so on.

Security Matters to Take Note When Making a Home Automation App

The inevitable transfer of a huge part of our life to the digital sphere is overshadowed by one drawback – security. And when it comes to keeping your home safe, there is hardly anything more important.

If you want to make a smart home app, security issues needed to be taken care of. Especially judging by the fact, that 40% of smart homes have at least one device that is vulnerable and can be subjected to breach.

share of connected homes with one or more vulnerable devices per country

There are several ways to ensure the security of your IoT smart home app:

  • Encrypt all data and never store logins, passwords, and other sensitive information.
  • Remind users to change their passwords regularly.
  • Releasing updates, patches and performing regular security checks are a must!
  • Recommend users using another network for their smart devices (and not their regular Wi-Fi).
  • Include security gateways between the elements of your app’s architecture.

Ready-Made Platforms for Home Automation App Development

When it comes to smart home application development there are two options of handling it: creating a custom platform or using a ready-made one.

It is fairly obvious what to do when you make an app for smart home by creating a custom platform, meaning you start from scratch and write the code for your software development kit from scratch. The main advantage of this method is the ability to adjust the system for yourself. However, the process itself is notoriously long and more difficult.

home automation app development is difficult

A second option would be using a ready-made platform to make a smart home app. This is significantly easier as it is using the software development kit (SDK) created by a brand that manufactures the devices.

Many major smart home products manufacturers already have their own SDK and APIs available to use and as practice shows, they are the best in terms of smooth and seamless performance. For example, Samsung and Phillips have their ready-made platforms synced with their products and available to use. Other platforms include:

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Oracle IoT
  • Kaa IoT
  • Microsoft Azure
  • IBM Watson

Obviously, you would have to sacrifice the customizability of the app, but benefit a lot from simplifying the procedure.

8 Steps to Create a Smart Home App

Step 1. Discovery Phase

The step we recommend to start with if you want to succeed and make an app for home automation is the discovery phase. This step is designed to assess architectural risks before even starting coding and it helps to sort through all the information about your future product and its success in terms of market introduction.

During this phase, the experts analyze existing applications, identify pain points that no one has addressed before you (which means there is a free niche with the potentially high demand), and, finally, figure out how exactly these pain points can be solved by using the application.

However, if you don’t have the right team to do the job and are want to find developers for your startup to help you with that, we at ProCoders will be happy to offer our services! Thanks to our access to a wide profile of specialists, we can approach the analysis of your problem from all sides and be sure to offer an up-to-date technological solution to bring your project to life.

Let’s schedule a call to start a Discovery Phase for your project!

By ordering a Discovery Phase from us, you receive an extensive study that will help you evaluate the profitability of your product and decide on the next steps in its development.

Step 2. Decide on the Features

This, just like the discovery phase, needs special attention. What functions will be in your application will make it stand out in the market, but at the same time, you cannot overdo it with the number of features – this will drag out the development time and make the application’s code significantly heavier.

Step 3. Decide on the Connection Metdod

We already established that when you make a smart home app it tends to have three main elements – sensors, actuators, and controllers. The main idea behind an app is to establish a seamless connection between these three scattered elements.

Nonetheless, how are they going to be connected?

  • Wi-Fi. The majority of modern devices include Wi-Fi compatibility. However, it may consume too much battery and energy, and the speed depends entirely on the provider. Therefore Wi-Fi can be used with a limited amount of devices and is not a perfect solution.
  • Another common option is Bluetooth. Now having the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) edition it has become even easier to hook up all of your devices to a single Bluetooth point, even though it’s not suitable for heavy-weight apps.
  • Zigbee is a wireless mesh network that can boast low-power consumption and low data rates. Zigbee is faster than any other analogous technology (Z-wave, for example) and can support 65.000 nodes on the mesh network.

Step 4. Choose the Data Storage Type

When working on IoT projects, managing the data is as important as ever. Here as a smart home app developer, you have two options: you can either resort to cloud storage (users can access all of the data as long as they are connected to the Internet) or a local one (not ideal, since it’s incredibly power-hungry and there is no way to restore the data in case of software failure).

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The most popular cloud-based data storage is undoubtedly AWS (by Amazon), however, there are many others – Microsoft Azure, Force.com, Apache CloudStack. The platform you choose depends on how well-versed are your developers.

Step 5. Come Up With a Great Design

With a huge number of similar products on the market, a smart and stylish design is a good way to make your application stand out from the rest. Don’t underestimate how the first impression of the app affects the user.

By thoughtful and smart design, we mean primarily a personalized user experience to meet their expectations and requirements especially if you take into account the fact that users will be setting user roles and customized scenarios for their home.

And of course, you need to think about what kind of data representation will you have and how it will be displayed on the screen. User-friendly applications always look better compared to the rest!

Step 6. Develop a Security Strategy

Because smart homes are particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks, security is the most difficult challenge for IoT systems in general. We’ve already mentioned how you can ensure the security of your app and your devices since they are linked to the same network.

i see cyber risks everywhere mem

Step 7. Come Up With a List of Devices Your App Would Support

The rule “the more – the better” works here. The more devices your application can support, the more freedom of choice you give to the user. Supporting only one manufacturer is not the best option, as it significantly limits the capabilities of your application.

The best option would be to include integrations with devices from Amazon, Samsung, Google, Phillips. Smart devices of these companies tend to dominate the American market, and therefore supporting them in your app will attract more customers.

Step 8. Assess Your Capabilities Wisely

Based on the previous points, you should have a list of tech stacks that will be needed to execute the project. Of course, you want only competent coders to develop your application.

At this stage, we would advise you to soberly assess your capabilities: do you have all the necessary developers on the team, do they have the necessary skills, or do you need to find someone to complement your team? Or alternatively, do you want to outsource app development entirely? Each method has its pros and cons, which you can learn more about by following the link in our blog.

Smart Home App Development Cost

First, the cost depends a lot on what platform you intend to develop your application for. For example, Android app development for home automation cost less in terms of the hourly rate, but since it is more time-consuming, the prices for Android and iOS apps would even out.

If we are talking about the development of an app using a ready-made platform with several integrations (for example, a voice assistant like Alexa, Siri, or Cortana) we are talking about anything between $60,000 and $70,000 depending on the team that you have. Custom-made code is going to cost even more – $80,000 and higher.

The price for an application is made up of the salaries of the specialists who work on it, multiplied by the number of hours of work on the application. Consequently, the final price will be greatly influenced by the hourly rates and the level of proficiency.

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Of course, a lot will depend on the composition and number of people in the team, as well as on the location. For example, it is widely known that in the United States developers are much more expensive than their colleagues from, say, Ukraine or another Eastern European country, while in terms of quality they do about the same job.

Therefore, if you suddenly have a limited budget or want to invest this money in the integration of additional functions, we can advise you to hire remote developers from Eastern Europe, Latin America, or Asia.

On average, the development time consists of the following:

  • 40+ hours on UI/UX design
  • 100+ on project management
  • 10+ hours per each integration with 3 party services
  • 90+ hours on the back-end architecture and development
  • 70+ hours on planning and creating a design
  • 100+ hours on QA 60+ hours on bug fixes

Obviously, the exact amount of hours depends on the difficulty of the app itself, but based on this data and knowing the hourly rate of the coders, you can roughly estimate the cost of your application. If you want to find out now how much the development of your project will cost you, you can consult with our specialists, who will make you a detailed analysis of the development cost.

How ProCoders Can Help in Developing a Smart Home App

At ProCoders we are committed to helping connect people with ideas and people with skills. We believe that this collaboration is a huge success, as it allows you to combine innovation with modern technology.

For many years we have been working with the staff augmentation method, that is, we help our clients to find those specific developers and coders who are lacking in their teams. All developers working at ProCoders undergo a rigorous selection process, which means you don’t need to start your search from scratch – we did some of the work for you!

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And what is also very important – our company has a very successful experience in working with IoT technologies, which means that our help in creating an application for a smart home will be even more productive.

For example, we helped our clients at Roth River to create a unique application for tracking sensors that monitor the maturation of their whiskey in barrels. In order to do that we used a combination of React.js + Node.js + React Native + GraphQL + AWS, and were able to meet all the goals and objectives.

By using our services, they were able to reduce hiring costs by 30%, as well as reduce development time by 25%.

We can do the same for you if you are interested in finding developers and want to create your own smart home application. It is enough just to leave your contact details and our specialists will promptly contact you and answer all of your questions!

F. A. Q.
How to control several different devices within one application?

The easiest way out is to combine devices (regardless of whether they have the same protocol or different) in one smart hub. Alternatively, you can partner with a third party that aggregates many different smart device apps under one common app (Yonomi, for example).

What are the main challenges I may face when creating a smart home app?

The biggest obstacle in this area is ensuring maximum security. Vulnerabilities of any link in the chain of devices are not be allowed, since they are connected to the same network and the vulnerability of one of them can compromise the rest.

Thankfully today there are many ways to overcome this challenge: for example, use reliable methods of encrypting, do not store sensitive information, and conduct regular security checks.

What factors affect the price and how can I save budget if I want to make a smart home app?

The biggest influence on the price is the choice of the platform on which the application will be based. Off-the-shelf platforms are easier to use and ultimately cheaper. In addition, the number of integrations with other services, for example, with different voice assistants, can also increase the cost of developing an application.

And if you are on a tight budget, you can save money by hiring remote developers or by reducing the number of functions in your application.

Conclusion

The future of all IoT markets looks bright, but this is especially true of the smart home market. Smart house development will only continue to grow in popularity as more people integrate IoT automation solutions into their homes and workplaces.

All in all now is the best time to think about creating your own smart home application, but this is not the easiest task, since the process of creating IoT applications is different from the standard one. You need to think about security, compatibility, design, storage.

In this article, we tried to outline all the available information on creating such an application for those who wonder how to develop a smart home app, including a step-by-step guide and a comprehensive analysis of key features. If you need a helping hand, we at ProCoders can help you in the development of your IoT project by onboarding qualified developers in a short period of time.

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