As we get REALLY close to Google I/O, we're getting a rollout of the latest Google Home app. Like everything lately, we're not seeing much in the way of UI changes, though support for Ice Cream Sandwich is going away. However, there are some big things to see in a teardown. We've got signs of a remote control feature that works with various home automation features, lots of stuff happening with captions, and two new tabs for navigation. Read More
Getting into home automation and smart home appliances can be a very elitist and expensive endeavor. If you want to take things a little seriously, you need a central hub that talks to your different smart objects and sensors over Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and more, then automates processes between them. You can use it to make the light turn on when you open a door, or the siren sound off when some motion is detected. Hub choices are varied, but the two that keep coming back again and again in the smart home conversation are Wink and Samsung's SmartThings, both with Android apps and Google Assistant/Home integration. Read More
Part of the reason that automation app IFTTT is so popular is how often it's updated to add useful new features and more third-party services. It recently got support for custom rich notifications on Android and Cortana was among the new services added in February. The latest update to the app has just arrived, bringing with it a couple of minor changes, and yet more services have also been added. Read More
A beta update to the Google app has been making the rounds. As usual, there's not much new to see after installing this release, but many changes are awaiting Google to flip a switch before going live. Also following the usual pattern, there's a teardown of the APK that provides plenty of hints about what's to come. Version 7.24 reveals plans for a floating bubble with current sports scores that remains visible on top of other apps, an effect for the Google search box, a mysterious new project called Valyrian, assorted follow-ups for the Pixel Buds, home automation, and more.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
Back in November last year, Google added some new abilities to the Assistant, including direct control of household appliances and scene support. With the latter, you can activate or change scenes linked to things like LIFX lighting systems or a SmartThings hub using the Google Assistant. Philips Hue lighting also has scenes, but until now you've only been able to use them in the Hue app. Some are now seeing the functionality in the Google Home app, too. Read More
Owners of the August Doorbell Cam and Doorbell Cam Pro are now able to review captured video for 24 hours. The new feature could add significant value to August's offerings, considering saving video to review later was previously an exclusively paid feature. Read More
IFTTT is a tremendous boon for those interested in automating their lives. The company's tools have deep integration with a wide variety of third-party services and products, and they're always being improved upon. The most recent additions to the party are iHome Enhance, Everynet, Grasp IO, and Nexx Garage. The old Stocks category has also been renamed to Finance, so if you can't find those stock-related applets, they're still around in a new place. Read More
IFTTT continues to expand the realm of automation possibilities at its users' disposal. Over the past month or so, nine new channels have been added to the connect-everything service. Most of them will make your home smarter (or more pleasing to your olfactory receptors), while one connects a number of services to the Ethereum blockchain. Read More
Just ahead of CES proper, Schlage has announced that its immensely popular Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt (say that five times fast) will soon work with Google Assistant. A few months back, it added support for Amazon's Alexa, right after adding an Android app for remote control. And now, sometime in Q1 of this year, you'll be able to 'Hey Google' your way into locking or unlocking your Schlage-equipped front door. Read More
With a couple of months of use behind me, my feelings about the Belkin WeMo switches are just as conflicted now as they were when I unpacked these. On paper, the idea of a switch that you can plug anything in to make it smart is fantastic. In reality, I struggled to find many, if any honestly, devices I wanted to use the WeMo with. But that's not even the meat of my issue with WeMo's switches. Their connectivity has been iffy at best, the app is laughably old, and integration with other smart home devices is hit and miss, mostly because of the aforementioned connectivity issues. Read More