How to control your smart lights with Android Wear

It's not always convenient to reach for your phone to turn off the lights. Use your Android Wear watch to control your lights from your wrist instead.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At times, one huge caveat with smart lights is how inaccessible they can be. Primarily controlled with a smartphone, it may not always be convenient to reach for your phone to turn your lights on.

You can use certain apps to control Lifx or Philips hue bulbs with your computer. You can even control them with your car. But one of the most accessible ways I've found to control the smart lights in my home is with my watch.

It may initially sound impractical, but it makes a lot of sense. Your watch is almost always on your wrist and, in many cases, is easier or quicker to use than reaching for your phone.

I'll be the first to admit that Android Wear isn't my favorite way to control my smart lights, but most of the time it is the most convenient.

First- and third-party watch apps

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Taylor Martin/CNET

First-party app support for smart lights on Android Wear is admittedly lackluster. Support is hit or miss, and most of the first-party apps are limited or unreliable.

Philips Hue, for instance, doesn't directly support Android Wear. Instead, you will have to download the app Hue Control on your Android smartphone. This will give you tons of control of your smart lights, straight from your wrist, such as control over groups, presets and the ability to quickly toggle the lights on and off.

The Lifx Android app comes bundled with an Android Wear component. However, it is very limited in functionality. You can toggle all lights on and off, and if you swipe to the right, the Android Wear app suggests opening the phone app for more control.

IFTTT

If your smart lights don't natively support Android Wear or have a third-party application support, the next best option is IFTTT.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

By installing the IFTTT app on your Android phone, the Android Wear component will automatically install on your watch. When you activate the Android Wear channel, the IF app on the watch will provide you with a programmable button. That button can be paired to any supported actions for any supported smart light channel (Emberlight, Lifx, Philips Hue, Stack Lighting or WeMo).

The more recipes you add, the more buttons you will see in the IF app on your watch. Swipe left and right to scroll through them. Tap on one, give it just a few seconds and the lights will react.

There is, however, another way to control your smart lights using IFTTT and Android Wear. It requires you to download another one of IFTTT's apps to your Android phone -- the Do Button.

The Do Button by IFTTT works almost identically to the Android Wear integration, except you have only three buttons to choose from. All three of the buttons will need to be programmed to a specific action -- a movie night preset or dimming the lights for the afternoon -- through the Do Button app on your Android phone.

Voice control

By default, you can control Lifx bulbs with Google Now or Google Voice Search. Unfortunately, the same commands won't work with Android Wear.

The limit of what you can currently do with voice commands via Android Wear is open a corresponding app -- Lifx, Hue Control, IF or Do Button -- on the watch.

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