We've all done it: Gone all the way back home to make sure we turned the stove off. Or bribed a neighbor to let a plumber in while we were away. Never again—thanks to a slew of new, easy-to-use devices and apps, your smartphone can remotely control just about any household task. Heck, you can even dim the lights and change their color without getting off the couch. Now, have you ever done that?
What they are: Bulbs with an unlimited color palette.
What they do: Forget the Clapper—these Wi-Fi-enabled LED bulbs set the mood with a tap on your screen: Select which lights to turn on, how bright you want them, and in what color, all with a simple swipe.
Best Feature: Pick a
color pixel from a photo in your album and the Hue bulb instantly adjusts to mimic the exact shade.
$200 for three-bulb starter pack; meethue.com
August Smart LockWhat it is: Home security for the Airbnb generation.
What it does: This Yves Behar–designed device installs over your dead bolt and gives keymaster duty to your smartphone, which unlocks doors automatically.
Best Feature: Grant (or deny) access to anyone with a smartphone, whether out-of-town visitors, the plumber, or the babysitter.
Switch + Motion
What they do: Plug into these outlets and take control of any device (lamps, fans, stereo) remotely—even turn off the iron or your lights after you've left.
Best Feature: Customize your devices with the free Web service ifttt.com—receive a text when the lights are turned on, or turn off your sprinkler system when it starts raining.
Starting at $80; belkin.com
NestWhat it is: A thermostat with Apple-quality design.
What it does: Setting your ideal temperature is a cinch, but there's more: Nest quickly learns your habits and adjusts automatically. Overseen by iPod designer Tony Fadell, the thermostat's latest release can automatically dry your home on extra-humid days.
Best Feature: This smart thermostat knows when you leave and adjusts so you don't cool or heat an empty home.
Logitech Harmony Ultimate RemoteWhat it is: A truly universal remote control.
What it does: This single system not only handles all your devices but also has a signal-relay hub so you can even access them behind closed cabinet doors.
Best Feature: Create
your own program commands to change channels, fast-forward, and adjust volume with a single tap.
Download This: The Best New App for Photo Lovers
Step up your iPhone's camera capabilities with VSCO Cam, an app that combines an eye-pleasing interface with a wide array of photo options in addition to the numerous Instagram-like filters: You can tweak color and contrast, pick separate focus and exposure points, and create a shallow depth of field. You can even fix that horrible backlit selfie.
Free; iOS only