Philips’ line of Hue connected bulbs are arguably one of the coolest devices to hit the market this year. Unfortunately, the company’s proprietary smartphone app is absolutely terrible. It’s clunky, slow, and cumbersome to use. Luckily for users, Philips released a Hue API so that third-party developers can build new apps for the lights. Now that Hue is starting to catch on in a big way, more and more Hue apps are popping up, so we’re here to bring you a quick roundup of the best ones. Here’s our top 10 picks for the best Philips Hue apps. (Sorry, iOS only right now).
Ambify is hands down the best Hue music app you can get right now. All the others just can’t compare. What sets it apart is the fact that it syncs your lights up perfectly with the music you play rather than relying on your phone’s microphone to pick up incoming sound, which often causes a slight delay. It’s also got a veritable shipload of effects, and allows you to program individual bulbs to respond to the bass, mids, and highs in your tunes.
This one isn’t really a Hue app – it’s more of a standalone webapp that just happens to work with Hue, but it’s way too cool to be left off of this list. Using IFTTT, you can connect Hue to a wide variety of other webapps, such as Facebook, Craigslist, or even RSS. The app allows you to set up custom triggers that are extremely open-ended, so you have a huge degree of freedom insofar as what you can create. We use one that turns our office lights red if the CDC ever reports a zombie outbreak.
Philips’ stock Hue app does give you the ability to adjust your bulbs to match a picture you like, but Goldee takes this a step further. Rather than remaining static, the app takes the colors in a photo of your choosing and slowly cycles through them, making the lighting in your room dynamic and constantly in flux. There are other apps out there that offer color cycles, but, in our experience, none are as smooth as Goldee.
Quick Hue (Unimitated LLC)
This one has a bit of a learning curve. Once you get the hang of the interface and gesture commands, however, it’s one of the fastest Hue controllers you can have on your phone. It gives you an absolutely massive range of functions from a single screen – everything from brightness controls to color adjustments to scene switches. We especially dig its simple interface.
Like a couple others on this list, Hue Scintillator gives you the ability to set your lights on a color cycle. But rather than pulling colors from a picture and trying to recreate the scene, this app allows you to fully customize the cycle – including the colors, speed, order, brightness, pattern, and a number of other cool effects. This one’s great for showing off what the bulbs can do.
Quick Hue (Xonay Media)
With the normal Hue app, doing something as simple as changing the colors takes way too much work. Unless you’re switching to a pre-built “light recipe,” the process generally requires a number of taps, tilting your phone sideways, and moving a bunch of sliders. If you want a quick way to change all the lights to the same color, get yourself a controller like Quick Hue. It uses a simple color wheel and a pair of sliders to let you make color/brightness adjustments in a snap.
If you’re looking for a solid all-purpose controller to completely replace the one from Philips, we highly recommend Hue Remote. It lets you do all the same stuff the Philips app does (plus a few more things, like voice controls), but with simpler, more logical controls. It’s one of the few Hue apps in the iTunes store that’s been redesigned for iOS 7, and we really like the look.
Switches for Hue (digital beluga)
This app is basically just like Philips’ “light recipes” function, but simplified and easier to use. It allows you to create and save color combinations, quickly adjust individual lights, and switch everything on or off. But the best feature of all? It allows you to save these switches to your homescreen, so you don’t even have to open an app every time you want to change your lights.
If there’s one thing a set of color-changing, WiFi-connected lightbulbs is good for, it’s setting off impromptu dance parties in your living room. Hue Disco lets you put your lights in party mode and set things like custom color cycles, strobe effects, and even make the lights react to the music you’re playing. Since it relies on your phone’s microphone to pick up sound, it’s not quite on beat all the time, but it’s still a neat effect.
This app makes the list for its sheer simplicity. All it consists of is a simple color board and brightness slider. That’s it. No color wheels, effects, or animations – just all of Hue’s most vibrant colors on an easily-accessible switchboard. If you’re not looking for a bunch of bells and whistles, this is the app to download.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Share them with us in the comments below!