Valentine's Day Home Automation Tips and Tricks

Whether you celebrate the much-hyped, over-commercialized, sugar-laden romantic holiday or not, Valentine's Day usually conjures up ideas of bouqets of roses, sappy greeting cards and possibly some chocolate treats. But this question might come up if you're spending time with your special someone at home, how do you make your home more romantic and "set the mood?" With so many homes today being "smarter homes", it's easier than ever to add a little ambiance, even with just your voice!

Siri, Alexa, Google Home

The three popular voice assistants all have some tricks up their virtual sleeves for this romantic holiday, with Amazon and Google's friendly voices having some more Valentine's Day-specific actions than Siri necessarily does. Apple's digital voice assistant appears to do just about everything to avoid marriage proposals or the usual question of "do you love me?"

Alexa usually has specalties just for this romantic holiday, and this year is no different. Here's a few things you can ask your Amazon Echo for: "Alexa, sing me a love song" or "Alexa, tell me a Valentine's Day joke." But on a more serious level, and assuming you have Amazon Prime, "Alexa, play romantic pop music from Amazon." Of course, there are some Valentine's Day Skills that you can add to Alexa, too, although they may or may not be truly helpful.

Speaking of helpful, Amazon also rolled out the "Starbucks Reorder" Skill, which lets you reorder at your designated Starbucks (assuming you did so via their app). If your romantic overtures include coffee, this might be useful! But otherwise, subdued lighting can always help set the right mood at home, for a special evening or perhaps just to watch a movie. If you have smart lighting or dimmers setup with an Amazon Echo, can say the quite-obvious "Alexa, dim the lights" or (tread carefully!) "Alexa, order a smart light bulb." For more fun, you can activate scenes right from Alexa on smart hubs like SmartThings, Insteon, Wink and Philips Hue.

The newest player in the space, Google Home, can serenade you, get you recipes, tell you a love story and more. Google's Assistant works both on the "Home" smart speaker and on the search giant's Pixel phones but is best experienced on the air freshener-like Home device. "OK Google, where is the nearest florist?" or "OK Google, what does a pink rose mean?" With Google's enormous treasure trove of information about the world, the Assistant's answers are usually more forthcoming than Alexa, and you can ask Google things in multiple ways.

Google Home has been slowly expanding its partners beyond just home automation in recent weeks, but of course you can still activate scenes on a SmartThings Hub...something like "OK Google, romance time" or "OK Google, dim the lights". If you have some no-hub-required LIFX smart lights, you could, "OK Google, set the lights to pink" to change the mood slightly. If your romantic evening is set to include pizza, you can order from Domino's right from Google Home, and get the right wine pairing via My Wine Guide...all by voice!

Yonomi, Stringify

If you're not a fan of voice assistants and perhaps would rather activate things manually (you can still use these via voice), home automation apps like Yonomi and Stringify are definitely good solutions. And, they let you do more than one thing at a time unlike the above-mentioned voice assistants and the one-thing-at-a-time IFTTT service.

Yonomi and Stringify both essentially do the same thing, linking various smart devices together via your smartphone or tablet and letting you do things with those devices that might not be possible natively. Best of all, both apps are free, device-agnostic and let you group a few different actions together. Setting a romantic mood can easily include dimming the lights, changing their color, adjusting your smart thermostat, turning on the fireplace and maybe playing some smooth jazz on your Sonos or other connected speakers.

As you add "things" to both apps, they will give you some suggestions on what you might like to do with your smart devices, which is helpful for those just getting started with automation. We've talked to the CEO of Yonomi about the app, check out the interview along with our review video.

Old-Fashioned Ideas for creating Romantic Moods: Subdued Illumination and Candlelight

Sometimes the old tricks are the best tricks, right? We put out a video in 2015 all about Valentine's Day and creating the just the right ambiance without going overboard. Take a look below!