Your smartphone isn’t pulling its weight. You pay its bills and charge its battery, maybe even squeegee the screen every now and again. But what has it done for you lately? With the right apps you can turn your phone from dead weight to the personal assistant of your dreams, especially at home. Carefully placed monitors and savvy apps will keep an eye on everything from your grill and your keys to your addiction to extra-dry martinis and Futurama reruns.
Nothing puts a damper on a BBQ like running out of gas. The Quirky Refuel propane gauge ($50, Android and iOS) uses a superthin scale to keep tabs on levels, alerting you when the tank inches toward empty. Just tap the sensor to see the reading on the tank itself, and be sure to keep the grill within range of your home wi-fi network so the gauge will sync with the app. That way, when you’re out stocking up on wieners and buns, you can also double-check if you need a refill. __
Don’t know a dash from a splash? Help is here. Armed with more than 400 recipes, the Perfect Drink app package ($50, includes shaker and USB-powered scale, Android and iOS) turns anyone into a top-shelf mixologist. Place your vessel of choice—anything from a rocks glass to a punch bowl—on the scale, select a recipe and a quantity in the app, and follow the step-by-step prompts. A ding tells you when to stop pouring each ingredient—and, more important, when you can start drinking. __
Getting out the door in the morning sucks, especially pre-coffee. Tile object trackers ($25 each or four for $70, Android and iOS) make scrounging for keys, wallets, gym bags and other important accoutrements simple. Attach the 1.5-inch squares to anything, and the app will guide you to your object within a 100-foot Bluetooth umbrella. Can’t find your wallet? Open the app and tell that Tile to start beeping. Camera MIA? Mark it lost, and enlist the help of other Tile users in the search. __
Anything from a decor overhaul to a new flatscreen means you’ll have to measure. Instead of battling with a measuring tape, RoomScan (free, iOS) uses your iPhone’s onboard sensors to map rooms based on movement alone. Hold the device flush against each wall for a few seconds, and the app will stitch its readings together to create a floor plan you can use to estimate the amount of paint, tile or other material you’ll need for your projects. Upgrading to the pro version ($5) lets you add doors and windows too.
All-in-one remotes from RadioShack are so last century. The Peel app (free, Android and iOS) turns smartphones with built-in infrared—such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One—into universal remotes. Using the in-app channel guides, you can browse, set your DVR and create reminders. And because Peel knows what you watch, it also suggests shows you might like. IPhone users will need to buy an external infrared device called the Pronto ($50).