Smartphones can replace many other electronic devices, including digital cameras, music players, and GPS navigators. Thanks to the rise of mobile apps to open garage doors, garage remotes can become a thing of the past too. While the mobile apps themselves are generally free to download, they typically require additional hardware or specific models of garage door openers to work.
GarageMate by BlueMate Labs
One of the most appealing features of GarageMate is its near universal compatibility with a full range of residential garage door openers. It works with such brands as Sears Craftsman, Chamberlain LiftMaster, Hormann, Raynor, Genie, and AccessMaster, and it should be compatible with almost any consumer garage door opener that uses a standard wall switch.
The $50 installation kit consists of a GarageMate receiver, as well as all the wiring and documentation you need. This receiver connects to your Android smartphone or Apple iPhone (up to eight smartphones in total) via Bluetooth 4.0. The full installation instructions are available on the website. It is relatively straightforward with just two wires to connect, but this may intimidate some users.
Because it works over Bluetooth, the GarageMate receiver does not connect to the internet. This also means that your smartphone will need to pair with the receiver before it can open or close your garage door. Your existing garage remotes will still work.
Craftsman Smart Garage Door Opener
Offering a great deal of added functionality is the Craftsman Smart Garage Door app by Sears. Available for iPhone and Google Android, this free mobile app works in tandem with Craftsman's AssureLink connectivity solution. Unlike GarageMate, the Craftsman app only works with compatible Craftsman garage door openers.
Instead of relying on Bluetooth, it offers full internet connectivity via Wi-Fi and the Craftsman AssureLink platform. It is possible to check if the garage door is open or closed from anywhere you have an internet connection, remotely opening and closing the door as needed. You also have the ability to turn connected lights on and off remotely, but you will need the separate Craftsman AssureLink Plug-in-Light Control to do so.
Reviews of the mobile app are mixed. While some customers say the app works as it should, others say it could be better and one user even mentioned that he had to log in each time to use the app at all.
LiftMaster MyQ Internet Gateway
Just as Craftsman has a dedicated solution for garage door opener control via a smartphone, LiftMaster by Chamberlain offers a $60 device called the LiftMaster MyQ Internet Gateway. This adds smartphone control to compatible MyQ enabled products you may have, like the company's garage door openers and lighting.
The MyQ Garage & Access Control app for Android and iOS devices offers a similar level of functionality as the Craftsman solution. Open and close your garage door from anywhere with your smartphone or tablet. Not only can you check on the status of your garage door from afar, but you can also receive instant alerts when the door opens, closes, or is left open for a certain length of time.
Customer reviews are generally positive, particularly regarding the notification option, but some users found the app to be buggy and "slow to open and then slow to get the garage open."
For users who are already familiar with or who are interested in getting into smart home products, the Gogogate2 could be an excellent solution. It is not restricted to garage door openers of specific brands, but it does connect to the internet for full remote monitoring and control.
It only takes a few minutes to install, but this is a solution for users who are generally more technically inclined. The Gogogate2 device itself needs to connect to your Wi-Fi network, you need to connect the device to your garage door, and you need to place the garage sensors too. More advanced features include the ability to open or close the garage door automatically when you are within a certain distance or at a certain time. This is powered through custom IFTTT recipes.
In addition to using the Android app or the iPhone app, Gogogate2 also works with voice control via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The device itself with the garage sensor sells for around $140 on Amazon. The more advanced Ultimate Garage Kit with a bundled wireless IP camera is about $220. This makes it more expensive than some alternatives on this list.
Most reviews in the app stores say the system is good when it works, but there are bugs and user interface concerns that need to be fixed.
Functionally, Open Sesame operates on the same principle as GarageMate. For about the same $50 purchase price (the mobile app via the App Store for iPhone or the Google Play Store for Android is a free download), you get a Bluetooth receiver that you then connect to your existing garage door opener with two wires. This receiver then pairs with your smartphone over Bluetooth, giving you approximately 100 feet of range to open and close your garage door.
Since it uses Bluetooth, the app does not require an internet connection. However, your smartphone needs to connect to the receiver via Bluetooth before it can work. The device also requires two AA batteries, which the company says should last one to two years depending on your usage pattern. You can also connect as many mobile devices to the Open Sesame device as you'd like and a single phone can be paired with multiple receivers if you'd like too.
Reviews are generally disappointing. Customers say the app "crashes all the time," it "never works" and there is "no support."
Moving Toward the Smarter Home
Mobile apps for opening garage doors can be much more flexible than their conventional "clicker" remote counterparts, including the ability to open and close the garage door from a different location altogether. Combined with other smart home products like smart thermostats and smart bulbs, smarter garage door openers can be remarkably convenient.