Technology

Best Google-compatible smart home devices and apps to get you into the holiday spirit

(Source: 9to5google.com)

As we move forward into December, we are quickly approaching the holiday season. As it’s 2017, there are applications and smart home products that can help you not only get into the holiday spirit but also help you control your decorations using your phone and Google Assistant. Here are just a handful of apps and products to help you make it through the festivities…

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Android apps |

Google Santa Tracker |

One holiday favorite is the Santa Tracker application created by Google. While its primary purpose is to let you see where Santa is delivering presents on Christmas Eve, Google includes several fun games and a countdown clock to help pass the time.

If you don’t want to give your kid your smartphone, you can also access Google’s Santa Tracker online. And if you’re someone who still uses Android Wear, there are two Santa-themed watch faces to get you into the Christmas-spirit.

Download Google Santa Tracker from the Play Store for free.

Hanukkah Menora |

If you are someone who celebrates Hanukkah, you might want to check out Hanukkah Menora. While it doesn’t include games like Google’s Santa Tracker, it does direct you through which candles to light on which night and much more.

The application includes the following features:

  • Automatically light the candles according to the Hanukkah holiday dates.
  • Beautiful design with dynamic elements (rays of light and dust particles to add for a more realistic scene).
  • Menora lighting Blessing Text in Hebrew and English.

Download Hanukkah Menora from the Play Store for free.

Christmas Live Wallpaper |

If there’s one thing that we all do, it is sitting and staring at our phones all day. If you aren’t into theming your entire phone and adding a custom Christmas or holiday flair, you can replace your dull background with a live wallpaper.

Below are all of the different customizations you can make to the live wallpapers:

  • Snow Globes (with 5 animated views)
  • Set your own custom Background (17 Gradient Backgrounds)
  • Snow Flakes scene intensity and color from picker
  • The ability to choose any combination of your favorite scenes above for rotation
  • A range of vibrant color schemes, with a beautiful color
  • Snowfall and Particle amount and speed

Download Christmas Live Wallpaper from the Play Store for free.

Amazon Shopping |

While the main point of the holidays is to spend quality time with your family, there’s always the expectation to give people gifts. When it comes to buying almost anything online, Amazon is one of the best options. Oh, and if you aren’t already a member of Amazon Prime, sign up here for a 30-day free trial and enjoy free two-day shipping on most products.

Download Amazon Shopping from the Play Store for free.

Smart home devices |

Google Home Mini |

When it comes to converting your house into a smart home with voice-enabled devices, you must first have something like the Home Mini with the Google Assistant built-in to control everything. Thankfully, Google and other retailers have dropped the price of the smart speaker down to $30 through the end of the year, so there’s no better time to pick up one or two of these Minis up for either yourself or a loved one.

Also, on top of just controlling your smart home devices, you can ask the Home Mini to play Christmas music from a number of popular streaming services, cast your favorite holiday movies to your Chromecast-enabled TVs, play games, and even ask it where Santa is currently at.

Purchase the Google Home Mini from BestBuy for $30.

LIFX Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb |

There are two different sets of smart LED light bulbs on this list. While the other option requires you to have a hub to control everything, these Lifx bulbs just merely need to be screwed into a lamp and connected to the Wi-Fi. After that, you can just ask your Google Assistant to turn each light off, group several together to control and create lighting scenes, and change the bulb’s color to make a more festive atmosphere.

Purchase the LIFX (A19) Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb from Amazon for $54.

Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit |

Now if you want more controls and functionality, you should check out the Philips Hue LED smart bulbs. This line of bulbs do require the purchase of a bridge that is used to communicate between the entire Philips Hue ecosystem, but because of this, you have a lot more flexibility when controlling the lights. For example, on top of being able to control the lights with the mobile app or Google Assistant, you can buy light switches and dimmers specially made to work with the smart bulbs.

Purchase the Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit from Amazon for $70.

Wemo Mini Smart Plug |

Just like with the smart light bulbs, there are two different smart plugs on this list. The first option is from a company called Wemo and converts your standard wall outlet into one that can be controlled by the Google Assistant and a mobile phone. During the holidays, you can easy using Assistant to turn on the outlet instead of having to struggle to plug in your lights every night. Also, there’s an “Away Mode” that randomly turns lights on and off when you are away from home.

Purchase the Wemo Mini Smart Plug from Amazon for $35.

TP-Link Smart Plug Mini |

TP-Link’s Smart Plug offers an almost identical product to Wemo’s with similar “Away Mode” features, Google Assistant functionality, a compact size, and a $35 price tag. Additionally, this smart plug doesn’t require a hub so you can buy one or several of these for your home and use however you like without the need for extra hardware.

Purchase the TP-Link Smart Plug Mini from Amazon for $35.

 

Twinkly LED Starter Kit |

Are you looking for a way to spruce up your Christmas tree lights? With Twinkly, you not only upgrade your lights to LED but also can control the colors with an app on your smartphone. The best part is that there are built-in light shows that allow you to keep your tree’s look traditional or highly entertaining.

Purchase the Twinkly LED Starter Kit from Amazon for $100.

Brizled Dimmable LED Christmas Lights |

If you’re looking for something a little more straightforward, check out Brizled LED string lights. While these RGB bulbs aren’t as sophisticated as the Twinkly lights, you can use your phone to dim, pulse, and create dynamic lighting schemes. 

Purchase the Brizled Dimmable LED Christmas Lights from Amazon for $41.

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