I have had a long-standing hatred for the SmartThings App as I find it ugly, dated and a pain in the ass to use. Now with the new SmartThings App (when I get migrated), this could change but I am not holding my breath. Instead, I am using ActionTiles and could not be happier. With ActionTiles I can go as deep into detail on specific devices as I could ever want to and keep a separate wife-friendly, simple panel. In fact, my wife was the leading reason why I went to ActionTiles in the first place. I control most things through an Amazon Echo and just my voice, but my wife needs something more tactile. The SmartThings App is terrible for someone to try and use especially if that someone is not thrilled about your smart home purchases, to begin with. Let’s look at ActionTiles and see if it is something you might want to incorporate into your SmartThings ecosystem.
ActionTiles is not an app but a dynamic website (or group of websites) that allow the user to configure “Panels” to display the information and control the devices that they feel are important to their specific application. A common use for ActionTiles and one that I use, ist on a wall mounted tablet granting easy control for that room or group of rooms or even the entire house. I have a couple wall mounted Amazon Fire HD8 tablets mounted in various location throughout the house to do just that. But I also wanted to go one step further with ActionTiles and create almost an entire set of “Panels” that were all linked together from which I could see anything that was going on with any device I had connected to SmartThings. See one of my biggest complaints with the SmartThings App is that all my devices just show up in a big list and this is incredibly difficult (and slow) to navigate as I have almost 200 connected devices (I know first world problems). In the SmartThings App, I can assign Groups or Rooms but that is still cumbersome as in many rooms I have a lot of devices. I have always been a fan of the Wink App and got the idea to create groupings in Action Tiles Similar to the device categories used in the Wink App. So, what I ended up with is a whole lot of “Panels” with the appropriate devices assigned to them. In case anyone is interested in the flowchart below shows how I laid out my “Panels.”
Now obviously what I am using ActionTiles for is not 100% its intended purpose but it is a good stress test on the system and it performs flawlessly. I do have a lot of “Panels” and sometimes I have a delay when switching back and forth but nothing that I can not deal with. The big thing that ActionTiles brings to my SmartThings Ecosystem is wife acceptance. What I did for my wife is take my “Home Panel”, remove the icon that links to my categories and then saved it as s shortcut right to the desktop of here Samsung Galaxy S8 and renamed it SmartThings. My wife does not even know that it is ActionTiles and not the SmartThings App as I saw no reason to even tell her about the ugly mess of a SmartThings App that was available.
ActionTiles offers a level of customization that I feel most DIY home automation platforms are missing, the only ecosystem that can even touch it is Home Assistant. Unlike Home Assistant, however, you do not need any dedicated hardware to run it and it can easily be accessed by anything with a monitor and internet connection. If you are a SmartThings user and have not already done so please do yourself a favor and purchase ActionTiles, it will change your life.
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.