I’ve always been told not to leave the house without three things: your wallet, watch, and keys. But in reality, there’s really only one thing that I never leave the house without, and it’s my smartphone. (Heck, with the right smart lock, my phone could be my wallet, watch, and keys… But then I wouldn’t be able to get pho at that really great, cash-only place.) So when you’re buying gifts this holiday season, why not opt for a few smartphone-controlled gifts?
When you’re buying a tech gift, it can be hard to know exactly what to buy. Everyone has different needs, security considerations, and technical ability levels. But with the right smartphone-controlled gifts, technical ability isn’t as much of an issue. As long as you consider what your giftee already has in the house and are prepared to help them set it up if they don’t know how, you’re good to go.
With respect to that, here’s my top tech gift tip: never buy a device with a camera or microphone on it for someone unless you already know there’s one in their house. That’s usually a good indicator of their level of personal comfort, and often of their own ability to install the device securely!
Sweet-sounding smartphone-controlled gifts
When one of the editors here at Best Buy asked me if I wanted to write an article about smartphone-controlled gifts, I jumped at the chance. It isn’t too often that I’m truly elated to write a specific piece, but this one absolutely called to me. The reason is pretty simple: I fell in love with a smartphone-controlled home device for the very first time last winter, and I love talking about them.
My partner upgraded our sound system with some wireless multi-room speakers from Sonos, and they have totally blown my mind. The bass is rich with crisp vocals, and the whole multi-room thing? It’s awesome. The Beam Sound Bar underneath the television plays in perfect synchronicity with the PLAY:1 (at top) in the kitchen, which fits snugly and discreetly next to our water filter. My only regret is that we have a PLAY:1 and not a Sonos One, which is the brand’s second gen model. The original can’t sync directly to Apple AirPlay, but the One fixes that problem for iPhone users.
What’s really cool about a Sonos home speaker system, however, is that it’s app-controlled. You can pull up the app to play music from anywhere in the house, with touch control from either the speaker or your smartphone. And the app is a must: Sonos is so enthusiastic about sound that it uses the app during setup to calibrate each speaker as you walk around the room.
Smartphone-controlled gifts for a cozy home
I think a smartphone-controlled, multi-room sound system is a pretty great way to make a house feel like a home. But if you want to get even deeper into your coziness, you don’t have to stop your gift-giving there!
Phillips Hue lights are an awesome addition to any home, and the app is great, too. I’ve always thought it was funny that the Hue marketing focuses on the system’s ability to give you multi-coloured lights, because I tint these lights with bold colours only twice a year. Their biggest pull for me is that they can mimic an 800 lumen tungsten light on only 10 Watts.
Long since gone are the days of The Clapper, and modern touch lamps never last as long. Phillips Hue products offer the best of both worlds with in-app sliders to control colour temperature and brightness, so you can turn the lights up to read a book or down to get cozy in bed. And the best part? You can also turn those lights off, without ever leaving your warm spot.
Of all of the smartphone-controlled gifts that I’ve used or been tempted by, these are by far the ones that I get the most use out of. We now have them in almost every room of our house, from the ceiling pendants to the TV’s backlighting.
If you gifted these to someone last year (I included them in my 2018 gift guide as well), consider adding onto that set this year with the Philips Hue Smart LED Wireless Dimmer Switch. We upgraded our home with a switches from this year’s Best Buy Black Friday sale, and it was well worth the half-hour that it took us to install all the new lights and switches.
The best smartphone-controlled gifts for pet lovers
I’m one of those people who happens to be fully convinced that animals have secret lives when you’re away at work. But in my fantasy world, those lives are pretty bleak: they probably involve a lot of napping and waiting for something exciting to happen. (Wait, am I someone’s pet? Because that sounds pretty familiar.)
Pet lovers can connect with their furry family members with smartphone-controlled gifts like the Instachew Smart Pet Feeder. The camera lets you look in on your little critters while you’re out of the house, or while you’re in another room, trying to make sure they’re not getting into the appetizers before dinner. But unlike other pet cameras, it lets you feed them dinner on time, too.
The Instachew connects using your home’s Wi-Fi network, and captures photos and videos for you while you’re away. You load a good amount of kibble into the feeder’s body (no wet food, I’m afraid), and go from there. The matching app lets you schedule feeds for times when you know you won’t be home, or pop on an instant feed for when you’re unexpectedly stuck at the office.
A smart pet feeder is particularly handy for those with pets on a diet. I’ve never been lucky enough to care for a cat that could free-feed, so I’m very used to leaving parties early or waking up on time to make sure my furry friend gets their breakfast or dinner!
If you’re struggling to find the perfect smartphone-controlled gifts this holiday season, look no further than these finds from Best Buy. They offer plenty of flexibility, all from the comfort of your own phone!
Shop these gifts and more online at Best Buy.