First up is a new Android Wear app that lets you monitor your cameras right from your wrist if you have a smartwatch. I've tested it today and it seems to do the essentials rather well, letting me see my location stats (temperature, humidity, and air quality), tap and hold on the mode icon to switch to Home, Away, Privacy, or Night, and scroll to view a thumbnail of the last recorded event.
We all love a good widget, so it's great to see home security app Alarm.com updated with a widget to trigger or control any scene on the home screen. Back in May, the app received one-touch automation in the form of scenes - the widget now controls those scenes with a single tap. However, the first iteration of the widget is, um, a little... big.
You see, instead of being simple 1x1 toggle buttons like other apps have, the widget is 2x1 (there is one widget which can be placed as many times you needed), meaning it takes up two app icon spaces horizontally.
I love crowdfunding projects that work well, especially when the product delivers relatively on time and with most of the features working as promised. Piper's home monitoring / security system is one of these success stories, but despite the product's hardware being great, I have been letdown by its poorly designed software and that didn't change since September 2014 when I first reviewed it. But Piper has been growing up in the meantime, releasing a night vision hardware version, adding Life360 integration, and offering several accessories like sensors and lights, and now it's ready to graduate its software and automation too.
Surveillance is a tricky subject. Are you comfortable with a world where you increasingly pass by cameras wherever you go? Maybe not. But at the same time, having a security camera can be a way to keep your home safe. While some of us wrestle with that philosophical dilemma, I will point others toward the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit.
According to Droid-Life, this is the new Cam. It looks like a Dropcam, predictably, but slimmer, more modern, and like the result of a Stuart the minion and Mike Wazowski inspiration. Bee doo bee doo! Presumably, the Nest Cam will be capable of 1080p streaming and recording, though the report wasn't clear on whether that means local storage or Dropcam's expensive subscription tiers.
Alarm.com is one of those ubiquitous home security companies that sells home safety packages, and like a lot of their competitors, they had an Android app simply as a check mark for comparison shoppers. Before today, the previous version of the security system's mobile component looked like it hadn't been touched since 2010. Yesterday's update fixed that primary problem with an extensive user interface refresh, granting easy access to all the security and automation features installed in a home.
New above, old below.
Yes, it's Holo, and yes, it works on tablets. A slide-out menu lets you access every subsystem independently: security, still images and video, automated locks and garage doors, plus the lights and thermostat.
Dropcam is an incredibly useful product, but like with most things, there is always room for improvement. For example, if you're monitoring a room that people frequently walk through, maybe you don't want a notification every single time someone hits a hot zone. Maybe you just need to know if something happens in the very back corner. With today's update, that's now possible for users who subscribe to Dropcam's Cloud Recording service.
These new custom activity zones can be assigned essentially anywhere, thanks to Dropcam's intuitive solution of putting everything on a grid. Simply highlight the desired area, give it a name, and you're done.
Relying on crowd funding is inherently risky. Regardless of whether a project's on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, some never get a fraction of the funding they aim for. Others fall slightly short or, if they're lucky, barely manage to crawl over the finish line. Still, a select few completely blow the doors off. The Canary, pitched as the first smart home security device for everyone, has now successfully acquired just shy of two million dollars in funding, far exceeding its goal of $100,000.
Canary is a sleek pillar-shaped device containing a video camera and sensors capable of tracking movement, changes in air quality, sound, and other activity.