Is there a third-party native mobile app that is designed as a smart home remote control?

I was looking at some smart home remotes and was shocked by the insane prices:

I don’t have $1,300 to drop on a remote:

… and I definitely don’t have $2,199:


I started thinking about how I could make one myself using my 3D printer.

But then I realized… wait… these “smart home remotes” are basically just LCD screens, with a CPU, connected to WiFi. These are just smartphones with a few tactile buttons.

If I want a dedicated smart home remote, then why not just buy a cheap Android phone? Maybe something relatively small and thin, like a Samsung Galaxy A04 for about $100 USD:

It could run a dedicated Home Assistant remote app and wake up the screen instantly when the accelerometer detects motion. I could set up a little dock next in my living room, or put a wireless charger on our coffee table. I could automate the charging schedule to keep the battery healthy.

Some people might ask, “Why not just use the phone you already have?” It’s fine, but there’s too much friction.

  • Take my iPhone out of my pocket
  • Unlock the screen with face ID
  • Something goes wrong with face ID, have to wait a few seconds and type in my passcode
  • Swipe up to close the current app
  • Swipe back to the first page of apps
  • Tap “Home Assistant”
  • Wait for it to load
  • Scroll to the entity I want to control

Imagine if you could have a dedicated device that only runs a single app, so you can just pick it up and start using it instantly to control the volume, lights, temperature, etc. You don’t even have to unlock it, the screen is on as soon as you touch it.

It could show the currently playing song or TV show at the top. It could have a Plex view that lists all the available movies, and you could click one to start playing. You could go to the “security cameras” tab and see live streams for all your cameras. When someone presses the doorbell, it could instantly bring up the front door camera on the screen. (This last one is only possible when you have dedicated app that is always running in the foreground. It can’t be done on my main phone.)

I also have an IR blaster running ESPHome in my living room, so the dedicated phone could even be a universal remote that replaces all of our existing IR remotes (TV, Roku, stereo.) You could switch between the different remotes, or combine all the important buttons into a single view.

Does an app like this already exist? I know it can be done with lovelace in the Home Assistant companion app, but I’m looking for a fully native app that is built from the ground up to be super fast and always running in the foreground.

My thoughts are even if there is this app it won’t meet all your wish list. Better to create exactly what you want on a lovelace dashboard and install fully kiosk browser on the device. My mobile dashboard does a lot of what your describing already.

UI-Minimalist on a mobile device. Have it anywhere and everwhere you go. Also you can use a shelly touchpanel or an old ipad and customize the display - alot of options

Let me add to my original post. Here is what I have on one cell phone and I am only halfway through the journey. If you want something outstanding, you have to put in the effort! Sounds lke you are grudginly doing this as though someone else is forcing you to do it instead of doing it as a hobby. I get it if something ios a hassle, but as with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in - and key is that it can be slowly enhanced over time… and once you’ve done it you have it forever! Here are just some screen shots from just my phone… Not trying to show off (well, maybe a little bit!) but mainly trying to show what is possible. I haven’t even started adding any video - (I need stronger hardware on the back end for that actually)

Also, as was stated before, all of these things can be displayed (or casted) on a variety of devices, doesn’t have to be a cell phone

All of these lights are also buttons for turning them on or off and/or to go to a sub-screen with more details for changing the light brightness and/or colors… On the bottom of this one for example it is used for HVAC and garage door control…

I can see the battery status of every single device and sensor…

Everywhere there can be a leak as well including a sensor to validate there is actually water in the sump pump drain pipe when it is operating to ensure tracking that the water is actually leaving the building…

One of the screens dedicated to a room - dining room -

Monitoring relay temperatures all in one place (not even really needed)

These are actually from the weather station on the roof - combined with some outside weather forecasting data

(sorry I will stop now)

By the way, the Home Companion app IS very fast. If it is slow then the slowness is not the app itself, it something deeper like your connection on your phone, poorly implemented cloud polling by a vendor, buggy third party integration, etc. BTW all the above is available to me at home or not - and the bulk of it is all running just locally. The HA App can be "dumbed down’for other users as I have it so they can only do certain things, or wide open as I have it myself, I can write another automation while bored waiting in the car, etc… Also, for everything showing a number from a sensor or a graph, you can tap on it to open a history screen and then modify the start and end time frame to see that history… then drill down deeper in that sensor properties to see what all the related automations are… all on the HA app… this stuff is freaking diggity bomb

Either way, with the companion app or with a native app you need to “design” a dashboard. But anyway, have you tried it? :wink: All your criteria is matched by the companion app and a specifically configured dashboard. Specifically means, you need to setup what you want to see, not any workarounds or something like that. All you want is there and even more. :wink:

I’m using exactly that system on an old phone as my remote for the TV (mainly) and for anything else HA. I must admit, we have some kind of techy home, so I use a Fire tablet for the “bigger” things I want to control, and the remote only for important things. A mobile phone is not ideal to look something up in HA outside a dashboard.

It all started with this thread

that got me thinking, I want something like that. The remote from the link is now available in V2, unfortunately still expensive, but not as much as the remotes you linked to. :slight_smile:

So I started to do my own research, turns out, it is something very specific, to build a remote control. Neither Pis nor any other board I could find, is running nicely (aka fast), with a standard OS and is driveable by a battery pack. The only Pi that can do the lovelace dashboards (in regard to processing power) is a 3B+ or higher, but that doesn’t go well with a battery…

Not to mention the touchscreen. You really can’t imagine, how many touch displays are on the market, and when you then start researching chinese platforms, there is even more. But you need something with a driver for a Pi or whatever board you use. So back to the usual suspects, like Waveshare. They offer really cool touch displays, but unfortunately, they don’t have a small form factor - they are to thick. One thing you don’t need with a remote… Together with a Pi 3B+ it’s around 4cm thick.

I still have some of the parts lying around, as this was my last try, I figured, this is something I don’t want to invest so much time, but without that, it will never be a cool gadget.

That brought me back to an Android phone, and after some experimenting, it turns out, the companion app is more than capable of doing nearly anything on a phone. From enabling the screen via the gyry sensor (the proximity sensor is not good for this), to showing a picture from your door camera, no problem. Starting Plex? Sure.

And you have one great thing available, that you don’t have with any other app: the built-in Assist! You can even set HA Assist as your default assistant, so you can launch it via a long press on the home button and Assist starts, mic already enabled.

You see, I have some experience in this direction, and I honestly would recommend to use the companion app, configure it right, and built upon that. You will never find an app, that is that well maintained, perfectly fitting HA and always up to date. And the possibilities are sheer endless! :slight_smile: :+1:



Thanks for all the replies! @KruseLuds those HA dashboards are really nice! Great work!

@paddy0174 Thanks so much for the information, the Unfolded Circle remote looks incredible and is exactly what I’ve been looking for. The “Touchscreen remote for HA” post is also really interesting. Glad to see that people have been thinking about this for a while and have come up with some good solutions.

I was originally planning to use a cheap Android phone which are notoriously slow and laggy, so that’s why I knew it would be a bad idea to rely on the Home Assistant companion app. I already have an old 2017 8" Amazon Fire Tablet on my wall running a HA dashboard in the Fully Kiosk browser, and it’s barely usable sometimes. The USB port is also unstable so it gave me an excuse to replace it. Instead of going for an old second hand tablet, I’ve decided to order a new Lenovo M10 HD 2nd Gen 10" tablet. Hopefully I’ll have a better experience with this one.

I also have an old Samsung smart TV in my bedroom which frustrates me to no end since the UI is so slow and laggy. I’m also running a HA dashboard on a Raspberry Pi with Chromium, and this also has very bad performance and even struggles to display SVG animations on a web page. It can’t even handle playing low bitrate video streams from my security cameras.

So I thought I should share some more context for why I’m so tired of all the sluggish devices in my house, and now I just want everything to be responsive and fast. The “Touchscreen remote for HA” post is exactly what I was looking for, since they wrote custom software in QML with Qt, so that will have much better performance. I think this is definitely the way to go for older Android devices or Raspberry Pis.

I think the Yio-Remote repo could be a really good starting point, even though it’s archived: GitHub - YIO-Remote/remote-software: 💎 YIO Remote Software repository
It might be possible to port the code and get it to run on Android, or even run a custom stripped down OS on the phone. Another option is to just buy the $450 Remote Two from Unfolded Circle. (I already have so many fun home automation projects on my todo list!)

I’m very curious to hear more about the Android phone that you use to run the HA companion app. How old is the phone? Do you have a dock or a wireless charger? Is it able to to play live video streams from cameras?

I love the Samsung remote page! I should make some dashboards for my remotes as well.

EDIT: I have to reserve one of these Unfolded Circle remotes, it’s just such a beautiful product and exactly what I was looking for:

I will probably get two of them - one for the living room, and one for our bedroom. I showed it to my wife and she’s excited about getting these too!

It’s probably going to take quite a while to arrive though, and the company might not even work out. It might be a few years until I can get my hands on these, if they even arrive at all. So in the meantime I’ll probably just get a Android phone and start with some dashboards in the HA companion app.

EDIT 2: This is exciting, they actually just started shipping the first remotes a few weeks ago:
I’m estimating that it will still probably be ~6-12 months until I can get one though.

Thanks @ndbroadbent - sorry if I came across talking you are a noob or didn’t want to put in the effort… - wow I am very impressed with that beautiful remote. If my HA on the phone was slow then I would have something weird going on… It’s a brand new Samsung S23 Ultra so everything is fast. All my automations are running on a very carefully tweaked RPI4 so I haven’t bothered with video (will be gettng a separate machine to link into for that when the time comes)…

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There is this one which launch on Kickstarter a few days ago.

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