Recipes vs apps?

Seems to me that SmartThings is premised on pre-existing SmartApps cooked up by (the) developers.
These don’t necessarily pre-judge users’ use cases correctly.

Is there a way for users to just make their own simple recipes from scratch? ie. If neither I nor my partner are home, switch off the X, Y and Z?
Seems to me this would be neither SmartApps nor self-coding development but, rather, basic recipe production, like IFTTT.


in your example, I go to the dashboard, tap the word balloon icon at top right, tap the gear at bottom right, scroll to the bottom to Add an action, and that’s where you set your recipe.

The ST folks have some work to do unburying things like this in the mobile app.

The whole software is very confused, and the new conversational interface doesn’t really help…

  • There are too many places to do things. The Things status list is too far removed.
  • The Dashboard isn’t what a “dashboard” should be. This primary UI area should really be the Things status list or the conversational interface. Instead, it’s kind of a secondary app store.
  • The whole expression of Smart"Apps" is confusing. They’re not apps, they’re rules, sort of - except, those rules can’t really prejudge circumstances at the user end.

Current logic flow seems to be:

  • Create an “Action” (“Mode”?) to turn on my lights.
  • Download a SmartApp to identify my presence when I come home from work and change the mode to the new Action.

More feedback
Any consideration given to how to the conversational dynamic works in the context of a multi-user household? The “Hello” house seems to give both of us users confirmation of some instruction given by just one of us.
Some of the language use…

  • My house name is “Our House”. The conversational interface is, therefore, “Hello, Our House”.
  • Since our mobile phones are presence sensors Things and are named, by default, eg. “Robert’s iPhone”, “Hello” notifications report eg. “Robert’s iPhone ha left the Our House”. 1) The language is far from natural, 2) If anywhere could do with personification, it’s here, not the “Hello” stuff - my partner’s phone is a good enough proxy for herself that the dynamic need not be “Lisa’s iPhone has left” and might as well be “Lisa has left”.

IFTTT benefits from using simple logic.
SmartThings doesn’t seem to have that yet.

Having the “Hello” interface and the Activity Feed behind the top-right icon also seems like duplication. Surely Activity Feed with integrated instructions to Things etc would be the more appropriate primary view.

Have you tried SmartThings’ IFTTT integration?

Hi, Picked this up from another post. Hello is ok, but the real stuff is at the bottom of the dashboard (IOS only). At the bottom of the dashboard you should see a bar with the words doors and locks. Scroll this up until you see Lights & switches and then use the instructions below. If you don’t see doors and locks press the arrow to the far right of the words “right now”. This can be used to hide and reveal this feature. When you have created all of the functions you need make sure you keep pressing done until you are back to the beginning in order to save it properly. You can import your existing switches to use, but the real fun is to create a new virtual switch that can control multiple devices in every conceivable way. When you are done it will create a new app for you to use from this location. Yep, yet another place to control stuff from. Here is the posts:

• January 19, 2014 at 11:57 am #10050

I’ve been trying to figure this out for the last hour. I have some outdoor lights that I want to turn on at Dusk and off at a specific time. I used the Sunrise/Sunset app to turn the lights on at Sunset, but can’t figure out how to turn them off at 2:00 AM rather than at Sunrise. How can I do this?
o This topic was modified 3 days, 18 hours ago by AJF.

January 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm #10055


  1. Go into “Lights and Switches” on the dashboard.
  2. Tap the gear
  3. Tap “Add new light/switch”
  4. Give it a name “Backyard Lights”
  5. Tap “Next” at the top
  6. Choose the device(s) you want to come on
  7. Tap “Next”
  8. Choose “Turn on using a schedule”
  9. Turn on “Turn on at Sunset”
  10. Tap “Next”
  11. Tap “Done”
  12. Choose “Turn off using a schedule”
  13. Choose “Turn off at a particular time”
  14. Enter the time you want them to go off
    That should do it for you.


I often thought that the defining theme behind SmartThings philosophy is for the user to have as little actual interact with the Mobile App as possible. I believe that they (SmartThings) wants your Things to do what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it, with out you having to do anything special.

When I first started with SmartThings I did NOT go into with this philosophy. I intended to use SmartThings as a “universal remote” for my house. But I very quickly changed how I used it. This was not a intentional effort to conform to SmartThings way of doing things, nor was it an effort to make SmartThings work for me. Rather I found myself looking for more and more ways to make SmartThings do things for me so I didn’t have to.

Yeah, it was great that I could open/close my garage door from my phone, but would it be better if it did it automatically? It’s nice that I can turn off my daughters night light and radio after she falls asleep, but why not just put a timer on it and have them automatically shut off? Wouldn’t it be cool if my Kitchen light turned on automatically when my side door opened at night?

I found in very short order that I WANTED to work under SmartThings philosophy because it made sense and was easiest to do. After I changed how I was looking at things, certain aspects of SmartThings started making more sense. Obviously your situation may be different, but I think things like the way the dashboard is setup, or how SmartApps work will start to make more sense the more you work and live in the SmartThings world.

Like I said, I really expected to be using the Mobile App ALL the time… now I find there are times when I may go multiple days in a row where I never open the Mobile App, instead letting the SmartApps do all the work for me in the background. Just my two cents, take it for what it’s worth.

Hi Chrisb,
Couldn’t agree with you more. I am pretty much down to turning up heat as I return from a trip (which is otherwise all automatic with nest) and turning on two little space heaters in my wife’s office and our sun-room manually with the app. Later in the day both shut off at set times with the app and there is a second fail safe shut off of both at midnight in case the first didn’t take. I am slowly replacing every switch in the house so I can automate everything so that I never have to use the app or reach for a light switch again.

Good argument.

I am indeed conceiving how, for example, “Turn off Sonos, if it’s playing, when last person leaves house / goes to bed / leaves the room” is a good automated use case.

But I’m not so much talking about automation vs remote control as about the difference between predefined SmartApps (which seem like someone else’s imagining of my possible use cases) and what I would advocate - my own ability to create logic-based recipes… “When I come home and it’s beyond sunset, turn on the light”. I think the end goal would be to afford more power on “recipe” creation to ultimately render SmartApps moot.

Anyway, I say all this as someone whose only experience to date is using the mobile app and my smartphone as a presence sensor. SmartThings availability, agonisingly, still isn’t in sight for European non-Indiegogo backers.

Okay Robert,

That explains things a little bit. As an android user I’ve yet to see the new layout with recipes so I can’t comment too much on those other than to say that I’ve always been a bit leery of how much recipes can or can’t do. Some of the logic of what I want to do can start to be complex pretty quick.

For example: When my side door opens I want a light to turn on if it’s after sunset or before sunrise, and then go out 5 minutes later. Okay, no problem a recipe can handle that I think.

Next, if it’s after 11pm and before 6:00am and motion is detected in my upstairs hallway I want the dimmer to come on at 10%, then shut off 5 minutes later… unless the right is already on, then don’t do that. This is a much more complex situation and going to be harder to do with recipes because we’re talking about multiple conditionals (time, current state of lights) as well as different device times (light switch and motion sensor). How can a recipe account for which devices you want to combine and how can it handle things like check if it’s on or off?

Or worse yet… I have a program running that watches for my presence tag to come home. When it does it first checks to make sure I’ve been gone at least 10 minutes (to avoid a false leaving). If I’ve been gone more than 10 minutes it’ll open the garage, assuming it’s closed, then 30 seconds later it unlocks my side door. Then, for the next 10 minutes it’ll watch for my side door to open, then close. When it does, it’ll shut my garage. I can’t imagine how a recipe would handle a situation like this. Now we’re talking something that incorporates a presence tag, a Z-wave outlet (to run the relay to open the garage door), a garage door position sensor, a z-wave door lock, and a door open/close sensor.

For basic things recipes are great and the iOS version of the Mobile App does have recipe functions build in (coming eventually to Android… not sure when though). But for complex think I don’t think you can ever get away from SmartApps.

Are you aware that you can write your own SmartApps?

I’ve mentioned in other threads that:

There needs to be some stickies at the top of each section that explains some very basic functions of SmartThings and how to program them. As mentioned, I was programming in Things when it was better to program under Dashboard. I also feel that their use of the term “Switches” under Dashboard is confusing and it would be better if the used the term “Scene” or “Action” or “Macro” because these are terms that all other HA systems use.

I also think that the IFTTT form of programming is much more intuitive and again it’s a system used in most other HA programming.

Also, there are some basic problems that come up time and again which should be addressed in a sticky; "Problems: Look here first"
A perfect example is that the Presence Tags work on Zigbee, not Z-Wave, so they are not always accurate as the Zwave mesh is usually much larger than the Zigbee messh. Simple fix is to place an ST Motion closer to where the tags can be read AND it must be plugged into an outlet, NOT on battery.

Plus, there should be MUCH more activity here by ST’s techs. It is to their benefit to be pro-active here rather than have customers jump ship and return their product, also give ST’s a bad name elsewhere lLike on Amazon).