Although the exact functionality of a home security app varies from brand to brand, here's a list of what you can typically do:
- Arm and disarm the system
- View live footage of security cameras
- Get alerts for various events, such as when the alarm goes off or when the camera detects motion
- See a timeline of events, such as when the system was disarmed
- Control smart home devices, like outlets, locks, and thermostats
- Set up smart home automation routines
- Upgrade and manage your account
Some home security brands don't let you use the app to cancel your monitoring subscription or modify payment details. Others do.
Again, it depends. SimpliSafe, for example, doesn't allow you to set up any guest permissions on its app. Vivint does.
Most home security companies include the app in all plans—including free self-monitoring plans, if applicable. But there are some exceptions.
Cove, for example, doesn't include app access in its most affordable plan, so you'll need to upgrade to the top-tier option. Ring also recently announced that it will restrict its app to subscribers, making it virtually impossible to use a Ring system without paying a monthly fee.
Yes. All home security systems can be armed and disarmed through a touchscreen control panel, a keypad, or a key fob.
We like Vivint's app best. Check our comparison of the best home security system apps to learn more.