What’s a smart button, and do you need one for your smart home? – Android Authority
There was a short period when smart buttons were all the rage for smart homes, or at least there was a proliferation of them in the industry. They’ve never quite taken off — even Amazon has discontinued its Dash and Echo Buttons — but they still have their fans and uses. So what are smart buttons, and does it make sense to equip your home with them in 2022?
Related: The best smart home devices you can buy
What is a smart button?
A smart button is the simplest possible physical control for smart home accessories short of a smart light switch, and even then it’s simpler than some dimmers. Pressing a button once toggles a primary function, while double or long presses trigger secondary functions.
Another difference with switches is that buttons can often be linked with multiple accessory types, not just lights. In some cases, you can assign scenes and other complex automations, which is useful if there’s a series of actions you regularly repeat but don’t want to bother with app or smart speaker controls. You might, for example, put a button near your front door that turns on your kitchen and living room lights, fires up the TV, and adjusts your thermostat. Double-pressing the same button could set your home to an “away” mode, and long-pressing it might turn everything off.
What to consider before buying a smart button
The first question, naturally, is if you actually need one. If you have a smart speaker, it’s not that hard to control accessories and automations using your voice, and smart displays enable visual options when you want to be silent or don’t remember how an accessory is labeled. You might also be in a situation where manual control isn’t that crucial — if you’ve already automated things to turn on and off at regular times, you can probably put up with an app for the few exceptions.
Buttons make the most sense in homes without smart speakers or displays, or in ones with kids and other people who may not be technically savvy enough to use app or voice options. They can also be an alternative to smart switches for apartment dwellers, and people renting their homes on services like Airbnb and Vrbo can offer some of the advantages of a smart home without the complexity.
Buttons make the most sense in homes without smart speakers or displays, or in ones with kids and other people who may not be technically savvy.
The next biggest concern is brand and platform support. Some buttons are only compatible with specific accessory brands out of the box. If you want to link them with other gear, that may be possible, but you’ll have to check if a button works with one or more of the major smart home platforms, namely Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Samsung SmartThings. Indeed if you’re using one of those platforms and a button isn’t compatible, you should probably skip it, though there’s an exception in our best-of list.
Remember also that buttons frequently rely on disposable batteries, as well as a Wi-Fi hub to link platforms and keep working when your phone isn’t in Bluetooth range. If either of those things sounds like a hassle, a smart button might not be worth it.