Tag Archive for ‘Smart Home’

HomePod Mini ➝

Many of us have wanted a device like this from the very moment the original HomePod was announced. I have two HomePods in my house — one in the kitchen and one in our son Josh’s room. I think we’ll probably end up with at least two of these HomePod Minis.

I’m not sure exactly where the Minis specifically will end up because we’ll probably juggle around our existing HomePods a bit. But I know I want a smart speaker in my home office and in our living room.

The Intercom feature sounds neat, too:

With more than one HomePod in the house, you can easily communicate with your family members by voice using Intercom. Ask Siri to send your message to the whole house or to individual rooms — and everyone can easily respond.

Throwing a message to my wife from the kitchen while she’s in Josh’s room sounds fantastic. It’s one of those features that seems so unbelievably obvious once you hear about it.

➝ Source: apple.com

How to Put an iPad Into ‘Kiosk’ Mode ➝

I’ve seen some people on Reddit, Twitter, and other communities on the web setting up old iPads as dedicated HomeKit controllers — using the Home app in kiosk mode. This is certainly nice to have when guests come over who have Android phones without access to the Home app or who you’d prefer not to invite to control your HomeKit gadgets from their own device.

I don’t plan on setting this up now. But maybe when I buy my next iPad, I can repurpose my Air 2 in this way.

➝ Source: howtogeek.com

‘Smart’ Homes Are Dumb ➝

Matt Hauger:

I don’t really understand why anyone would install a semi-permanent smart device in their house.

On the one hand, there’s the “faux-convenience” factor. With many smart home gadgets, you’re trading a device that’s simplistic but predictable for one that’s “advanced” but finicky. Consider: if a dumb light switch stops working, there’s a very limited number of things that could have gone wrong—basically, either the wiring came loose or the circuit breaker blew.

But with a smart light switch, you have those potential problems, plus many others. Maybe the device’s firmware is buggy. Maybe the manufacturer hasn’t updated their app for your new phone hardware. Maybe the smart home platform itself is half-baked. Maybe the trigger service (e.g. IFTTT) is offline. Perhaps the automation you programmed failed to anticipate the fall time change. The list of potential troubleshooting steps goes on and on.

This is exactly why I’ve been very cautious to add these devices to my home. The nerd in me wants to replace every light switch and power outlet in my house with HomeKit-compatible replacements, but that just isn’t practical and could cause countless headaches at some point down the road.

So far, I’ve purchased two iDevices Switches and an Ecobee3 lite. If anything goes wrong, the switches are easy to remove, but the thermostat purchase was a bit more risky. If there’s a security flaw that Ecobee decides not to fix or it’s not able to connect to some future router I buy with a yet-to-be-conceived version of 802.11, I’ll have to replace it with something new.

It’s a bit frustrating that we have little control over how long these devices will function compared to the near-bullet-proof traditional models with no smarts, but a large helping of reliability. If you do decide to dip your toes in the smart home waters, I highly suggest sticking with reputable brands that work well with platforms like HomeKit. It’s no guarantee, but doing so will give you the best chance at a long life span for your devices.

Ikea Announces Smart Lighting Compatibility ➝

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

iPhone-ticker reports that Ikea is updating its TRÅDFRI smart lights to be compatible with HomeKit, Amazon Echo and Google Home. The site says that the company will ‘retrofit’ the functionality, suggesting that compatibility will apply to existing products.

The existing product line is limited to white bulbs, but once you’ve bought the gateway for $79.99 (which includes two bulbs), you can add smart bulbs at prices ranging from $11.99 for a 1000-lumen E28 bulb, through $14.99 for a 400-lumen E12, $17.99 for a 980-lumen E27 to a $19.99 G10 spotlight. Dimmers and motion sensors are also available at similarly affordable pricing.

I’ve been waiting for the price of smart home products to drop before jumping wallet-first into the category. I’m not thrilled about having to spend $80 on the gateway, but $12 for each subsequent bulb seems like a pretty killer deal.

Nest to Shut Down Revolv Home Automation Hubs ➝

Rob Price, writing for Business Insider:

Just over a month ago, Revolv updated its website to announce that it is closing down completely, pulling the plug on its existing products in May. “We’re pouring all our energy into Works with Nest and are incredibly excited about what we’re making,” wrote Revolv founders Tim Enwall and Mike Soucie. “Unfortunately, that means we can’t allocate resources to Revolv anymore and we have to shut down the service.”

Shutting down Revolv does not mean that Nest is ceasing to support its products, leaving them vulnerable to bugs and other unpatched issues. It means that the $300 devices and accompanying apps will stop working completely.

This is a great example of why I’m avoiding this whole smart home trend. I don’t want a botched software update, an internet outage, or the manufacturer’s future decisions to effect the use of my home appliances.

Google OnHub is All About the Smart Home ➝

At first, Google’s OnHub announcement felt a little out of place to me. But I quickly realized that it’s all about the internet of things — by the way, can someone please come up with a better term. Google needs hardware inside of your network to act as a relay which helps you control devices remotely. And it looks like their newly announced $199 wireless router will do just that.

Chris Burns, writing for SlashGear:

Google OnHub was revealed today by Google as the first doorway to a full smart home ecosystem. This service will be tied together with software protocols revealed in part earlier this year as Google Brillo and Google Weave. […]

Google OnHub will be the first Google Brillo device.

As for the router, it’s an attractive piece of hardware with impressive features and an easy-to-configure interface. It’s a little expensive compared to other routers on the market. But if you’re interested in buying it, you probably want it specifically for its unique features.

Personally, I wouldn’t even consider the OnHub for my home network. I have a couple of computers that I prefer to connect to my router with Ethernet and I rely on my Time Capsule’s hard drive for local Time Machine backups — both of which aren’t possible with the OnHub.