Welcome to another edition of our smart home news update! This week we’ve got rumors of new voice assistant devices from Amazon and Google, some news about the Ecobee and Nest thermostats, and more.
If there’s one technology that needs to either die or radically change, it’s the TV remote. Have you ever stopped to think about how much of a usability nightmare the average remote control is? They have a million buttons–most of which you never use–and each one is laid out differently. If you lose the remote or it stops working, you lose access to the vast majority of your TV’s functionality.
It’s even worse if you have a full home entertainment system with a TV, speakers, and more. You’re forced to perform an elaborate sequence of operations to ensure everything is turned on in the right order and configured to the right input settings for whatever you are trying to watch. It’s crazy that we all just accept this as a fact of life. What other tech product do we use in 2017 that requires this much concentration to use on a daily basis?
The smart home industry is still growing rapidly, and it seems like every week we hear about a new product announcement or feature. It can be hard to keep up, so I’ve collected a few of the more interesting news items here. Read on to find out what’s new!
If you’re ready to get in on the home voice assistant craze, you are immediately faced with a difficult decision: which assistant should you sign your life away to? Every manufacturer wants to sell you an entire ecosystem of products that are designed to work together, so you have to commit to a single system to reap the full benefits. But how do you make that choice?
File this under the category of “it’s about time”: whole-home music playback is finally coming to the Amazon Echo. Reports indicate that Amazon has completed its testing of the feature, so we can probably expect to see it in a software update any day now. Finally!
I first got my feet wet with the Amazon Echo line of products with an Echo Dot in December of last year, and since then it’s become one of my most often used gadgets when I’m at home. Between using it to control my lights, checking the weather, and asking Alexa to play music, I find myself regularly using the Echo Dot. No, it doesn’t do anything that I can’t do with an app on my phone, but when I’m doing things around the house, the convenience of voice commands is great.
But, of course, the catch is that the Echo is only useful if it’s nearby and listening.
At the WWDC conference last week, Apple announced its long-awaited entry into the home voice assistant market: the Apple HomePod. In traditional Apple fashion, it’s beautiful and expensive. But unfortunately, it’s not going to be available until December. So the question is: should you hold out until the HomePod is released, or go with another option now, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home?
Recently, Google held its yearly developer conference, Google I/O. Google is involved in a dizzying number of different projects and initiatives, but one of the stars of the show this year was the Google Assistant. Since Google Assistant is the voice assistant used on Android phones as well as in the Google Home, Google’s keynote presentation included some announcements that will be exciting to Android and Google Home fans. Let’s take a look at some of what Google announced. Some of this is available now and some will be available in the next few months, but there is some exciting stuff here.
Last week, Amazon announced the Echo Look, an Alexa-enabled camera that gives you fashion tips and helps you take selfies. The Echo Look has the same Alexa voice assistant found in the Echo and Echo Dot, and can do everything those devices can, such as telling you the weather or playing music. However, the Echo Look is the first product in the Echo line to include a camera, making it a much different device than previous Alexa-powered products. I’m not really sure how to feel about it.
It’s only been a few weeks since our last smart home news update, but as we’ve come to expect with this particular industry right now, there is still plenty of new stuff to talk about. As before, I’ll start by talking about what’s new with my personal smart home setup, and then go through a few news updates.