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Smart Home

The smart home was once a far-flung pipe dream, but it is now a reality. Wherever you live, your home is ground zero for some of the most interesting tech available right now, and tech that’s yet to come. Best of all, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get your home up and running with smart hardware and services. Home security and monitoring solutions can alert you to a burglary, smoke, fire, or just simple motion activity. There are plenty of options with a range of capabilities, from smart doorbells and smart locks to indoor and outdoor cameras that can see in the dark. Smart speakers, like the Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod each play a big role in helping you out, too. In the kitchen, they can read out recipes, or if you’re cleaning, you can call out to them to change the song on the fly. If you buy smart light bulbs, for instance, you can turn them on and off by using your voice.

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The new Google Home app is finally here

A much-needed update brings greater control and customizability. Plus, Google updates its iOS app to support Matter devices.

What matters about Matter, the new smart home protocol

Why is Matter such a big deal, and when can you actually use it?

The Verge
You can now watch live TV on an Echo Show for free ... just say “Alexa, watch TV.”

Amazon’s smart displays now work with its new Fire TV Channels. These FAST offerings bring shows, live news, music videos, and sports from over 420 different providers to the Echo Show lineup.

I just tried it on the smallest Echo, the Show 5, and it started playing ABC News before I hopped over to America's Test Kitchen. Now, time for dinner.

The best robot vacuum you can buy right now

I’ve tested close to 50 robot vacuums. Here are the best, from budget robot vacuums to vacuum / mop hybrids with and without auto-empty docks and other fancy features.

Oooh look — Amazon has a smart home control panel.

Amazon just announced a new Echo Hub at Amazon’s Fall hardware event. The tablet-like screen mounts to the wall and costs $179.99.

It’s a Zigbee hub, Thread border router, and Matter controller in one, with a smart home widget interface that automatically appears as you approach.

Amazon says it can control devices in milliseconds, but the big question is how snappy will its touchscreen be?

Alexa Map View could make managing your smart home so much easier ...

This map view makes a lot of sense for control of your smart home, and anything is better than the current Alexa app UI.

<em>Gallery View</em>


Gallery View
Image: Amazon
Amazon just announced a new Ring Stick Up Cam.

It’s the Ring Stick Up Cam Pro, and it offers radar-powered 3D motion sensing. Amazon says that will help users make more specific spots where the camera will keep an eye out for motion.

The Eero Max 7 is Eero’s beefy new router.

There’s a new Eero Max. It will start at $599.99, and have both Zigbee and Thread routers built in. The two 10GB ethernet ports will be capable of wired speeds up to 9.4 Gbps and the router will support up to 200 devices connected at once.

The new Eero Max 7’s backside.
The new Eero Max 7’s backside.
Image by Amazon
Blink adds a new sync module, and brings four years of battery life to its outdoor cameras.

The Blink Sync Module Pro extends the range of Blink’s cameras beyond Wi-Fi, costs $49.99, and will be available early next year.

The new Blink outdoor battery pack will extend the new Blink Cam 4’s two-year battery life to four years. This was first promised about two years ago — so it’s nice to see it finally arrive.

Want to advertise The Avengers in your kid’s bedroom? Get a new Echo Pop Kids.

The new Echo Pop Kids will cost $49.99 and include Amazon’s Kids Plus service.

But, boy, do they look ugly.

The new Alexa LLM-powered voice assistant will work on the original Echo that launched in 2014.

That’s ... impressive.

In the new Echo Show 8, Alexa will be 40 percent faster.

Shown today during Amazon’s hardware event, this will be a huge improvement. Personally, I’ve found smart displays are often slower than the standard Echo speakers.

Echo Show 8 shown in an animated GIF


Echo Show 8
Image: Amazon
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Philips Hue now (finally) works with Matter.

As promised, Signify has updated its Philips Hue Bridges with Matter support. Surprise! You can check by opening the Hue app and going to Settings > Smart Home, then add an integration. Tap “Other apps” and you should see a big Matter logo. Have fun! Oh, and if you already have Hue working through HomeKit and you like Adaptive Lighting, don’t switch to Matter on Apple Home.

Philips Hue and Matter

[Philips Hue US]

Here’s why Apple put a Thread radio in the iPhone 15 Pro

Yes, Thread has some cool smart home uses, but the wireless protocol could also replace Bluetooth in other parts of Apple’s ecosystem.