​Life360 guide: How to smarten up your home with the geolocation app

Use your location to trigger just about anything

How to use Life360 for a smarter home

Life360 is primarily about knowing where your family or friends are at any given moment: whether the kids are home from school, how much longer it will take your partner to get to work, which meeting point your friends have decided on for a night out, and so on.

Along the way, the idea is that you save dozens of "where are you?" texts — everything is laid out on a map for you to see at a glance. At the same time, users still keep control of who they're sharing their location with and when, so it's not as if the world at large can suddenly track your every move.

Thanks to the various integrations with smart home systems built into Life360, you can also tie automated events to these locations. You could, for instance, cool down your home via your smart thermostat once everyone has left for the day, or post a message to your family circle as soon as the children have made it to school.

You've got a wide choice of options, and the easiest way to understand them is to dive into the apps. Here's how to get started and get Life360 integrated into your smart home. Basic plans are free, but to set up more than two places (like home and work), you need to subscribe to a premium account from $4.99 a month.

Download the app for Android and iOS.

Getting started with Life360

When you install Life360 for the first time, you'll be asked to sign up for an account, with an email address, password, and mobile number. You can also add a picture to make it easier for your contacts to recognise your location pin on a map.

Life360 guide: How to smarten up your home with the geolocation app

Once you've done that, you can start adding friends and family. Life360 encourages you to set up specific Circles: you might have one for the kids, one for the parents, one for your friends, and so on. It's an easy way of keeping contacts in the app (and their location information) separate from each other.

Tap the menu button (top left) then Create Circle to set up a new Circle. The app gives you a code, which you can either text to other people or send to them in a message. Everyone in the Circle needs to have Life360 set up and running on their phone.

Pick any of your Circles from the Life360 app menu to see where everyone is on a map at any given time. From the same menu, tap Places to mark specific locations—such as home or work—on the map. Choose any of your created places, then tap on the name of anyone in the current Circle, to get alerts when that person arrives at or leaves that location.

Life360 guide: How to smarten up your home with the geolocation app

The app also lets you message people directly, see how much battery life everyone has left on their phones (handy to know if someone is about to run out of juice), and see two days of location history for everyone in the Circle. A premium account extends that history record to 30 days.

Connect Life360 to your smart home

The Life360 platform currently connects to three smart home systems directly: Nest, SmartThings, and Piper security cameras. It can also plug into the IFTTT network, as we'll explain below, extending the number of devices you can work with even further. All of these connected systems work slightly differently when they're hooked up to Life360.

How Life360 automates your smart home for your whole family

To connect to Nest, you need to log into the Life360 website, open up the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, then choose Connected Devices. Click Connect on the dialog box that appears, then follow the prompts to log into your Nest account and connect the two platforms together.

You can then choose a Circle from your list, and when everyone in that Circle is out of the house (as detected by Life360), your Nest thermostat automatically goes into away mode with whatever settings you've configured for that mode. The Nest apps can do this too, but it saves everyone in your home from installing the Nest app on their phones.

How Life360 automates your smart home for your whole family

With SmartThings, you need to head into the SmartThings app. Open the Marketplace screen then tap SmartApps, Social, and Life360 (Connect). Once you've entered your Life360 credentials, you can choose from a list of Circles, places and people that you want to use with SmartThings.

As with Nest, the location data provided by Life360 acts as a trigger for your other SmartThings gadgets. The presence (or absence) of someone inside your chosen Life360 Circle can turn on the lights, turn up the thermostat, or trigger any other action on your SmartThings devices.

For Piper, head into the Piper app on your phone, then choose Smart Arming with Life360 (Beta) from the Settings option on the app menu. Enter your Life360 login details, tap Enable Smart Arming, and you're done.

How Life360 automates your smart home for your whole family

The setup here is a bit simpler than it is with Nest or SmartThings: when everyone in your Family Circle is out of the house, an alert automatically pops up on your phone—you can tap it to enable Armed Away Mode on your Piper camera and whatever rules you've associated with that mode.

Connecting Life360 to IFTTT

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a service for connecting apps — in this case Life360 to whatever else you want to use it with. It works across social media, productivity apps, mobile devices and more, and it's free to sign up for an account.

How Life360 automates your smart home for your whole family

Once you're in, click your username (top right) then pick New Applet. Click the "this" trigger, pick Life360, and enter your login credentials. You've then got four options to pick from: you arrive somewhere, you leave somewhere, the first family member arrives somewhere, or the last family member leaves somewhere.

When your trigger is configured, you can click "that" to pick the associated action, and your options are many and varied. You could turn off your Philips Hue lights when everyone in the family has gone out, or turn up your Hive thermostat when you arrive home, or send a tweet out as soon as you arrive at the office every morning.

How Life360 automates your smart home for your whole family

IFTTT can send out text messages, post to social media, add entries to a Google Sheet, turn smart devices (including smart plugs) on or off, send notifications to a phone, and so on, all based on location information it gets from Life360. Everything happens automatically. Have a look around the supported IFTTT services (there are a lot of them) and see which of your gadgets and apps it can work with.

What's more, IFTTT connects to Nest, SmartThings and Piper too, so if you can't get Life360 working the way you want through the direct connections inside the apps, switch to IFTTT instead. You can even set up multiple applets, so a whole host of automated actions could be triggered when you arrive at (or leave) a certain place.

TAGGED   smart home

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