Home Automation

With Wink Relay update, order Uber from your lightswitch

With Wink Relay update, order Uber from your lightswitch

Wink Relay, the home automation hub's touchscreen wall controller, can now summon you an Uber and track your Fitbit performance. Announced back in 2014 as a flexible way to control the smart home from where you'd normally expect to find your light switch, the update pulls what would traditionally be functionality you'd dig into an app for on your smartphone into a far more accessible place.

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Amazon Alexa skills just got a whole lot smarter

Amazon Alexa skills just got a whole lot smarter

Amazon's Echo may allow you to order from the retailer's virtual shelves and play its audiobooks, but it's third-party features that make Alexa smartest and they're getting a makeover today. A year after Amazon threw open the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service for others to tap into, there are now 1,400 extra abilities for the speech-controlled virtual assistant.

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Sonos iPhone lock screen controls added plus 3D Touch

Sonos iPhone lock screen controls added plus 3D Touch

Sonos is finally answering one of the biggest requests from users of its streaming speakers, and embracing Apple's 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the process. Ditching its standalone remotes in favor of its smartphone apps made a lot of sense - who wants to spend a couple hundred dollars on a dedicated touchscreen remote, when you have a far slicker one in your pocket already - but they did make adjusting things like volume and track a little more time consuming since you needed to unlock your phone and load the app first.

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Nest’s new talent tames the thermostat when power gets pricey

Nest’s new talent tames the thermostat when power gets pricey

Nest's thermostat has always been billed as "smart" but, courtesy of even deeper integration with power companies, a new "Time of Savings" feature could help your wallet, too. Part of the smart home staple's intelligent energy services, the new addition works with so-called "time of use" (TOU) plans by learning what the rates are and adjusting heating and cooling use according to when it's most affordable.

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Amazon Alexa will soon blend with Logitech Harmony

Amazon Alexa will soon blend with Logitech Harmony

Amazon's Alexa is truly growing up to becoming the personal assistant for the home, sprinting past Google, Apple, and Microsoft and giving them a run for their money. While those big three are scrambling to get a foothold inside living rooms, Amazon is already building up its army rallying behind Alexa. The latest news, if for real, will potentially add dozens if not hundreds of devices that don't directly support Alexa. All through the masterful orchestrating of Logitech's Harmony smart home platform.

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D-Link DCS-8200LH HD 180-degree camera joins the smart home club

D-Link DCS-8200LH HD 180-degree camera joins the smart home club

As homes get smarter, so too do potential intruders and miscreants. As we continually upgrade our appliances, it is also fitting that we upgrade our security systems. Fortunately, it won't necessarily mean trading an arm or a leg just to get a smart security setup. D-Link is adding a new HD 180-degree camera, the DCS-8200LH, to its mydlink Connected Home team to offer affordable security cam without skimping on the features that make these connected cameras a perfect fit for smart homes.

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No Apple TV? Your iPad can be an Apple Home Hub

No Apple TV? Your iPad can be an Apple Home Hub

Apple's update for HomeKit may make the Apple TV even more important, with its addition of remote access to control things from afar, but it turns out you don't actually need the set-top box. In an ideal setup - and certainly how Apple presented it at the WWDC keynote this week - the Apple TV running the upcoming version of tvOS acts as a Home Hub, but if you don't have, or don't want, the set-top box, you can use something else.

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Amazon Alexa ramps up to 1,000 3rd-party skills

Amazon Alexa ramps up to 1,000 3rd-party skills

Amazon's line of Echo speakers and the virtual assistant Alexa are constantly getting updated with new features and connected services, but the company has now revealed that the number of third-party skills available has topped 1,000. That's a lot of new abilities for Alexa that developers have created, resulting in useful features like the ability to check bank accounts, make travel plans, and even order a pizza, all via voice commands.

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The best Amazon Alexa Skills to try (and why they’re a big deal)

The best Amazon Alexa Skills to try (and why they’re a big deal)

With more than 1,000 Skills under its belt, Amazon's Alexa leads the pack in voice-controlled smart home assistants, but which should you try first and why? Read on for our pick of some of the best third-party integrations with Alexa, including why they're important, and how you can try them out without splashing out any cash in the first place.

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Switchmate Review – The easiest IoT light upgrade ever

Switchmate Review – The easiest IoT light upgrade ever

If embracing the smart home has a common first step, it's often remotely-controlled lights, but that can be an expensive, time-consuming, or technical upgrade. Wireless bulbs switch out for their dumb cousins, but equipping every lamp can get expensive; swapping dumb wall switches for wireless versions looks clean but requires screwdrivers and dealing with mains electricity, not to mention potentially incurring landlord wrath. Step forward Switchmate, then, with an alternative that's up and running in mere minutes.

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iDevices Socket gives incandescent bulbs an IoT upgrade

iDevices Socket gives incandescent bulbs an IoT upgrade

Upgrading existing lights to connected versions usually means choosing between fancy LED bulbs and those you already have, but iDevices is pitching a way to keep both. The new iDevices Socket screws into a regular bayonet light socket - whether a ceiling fixture, standalone lamp, or wall sconce - and has a ring of multicolor LEDs for mood lighting; however, you can also add your choice of existing bulb.

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Belkin Wemo Switches get Nest integration

Belkin Wemo Switches get Nest integration

Belkin’s Wemo now works with Nest, with the company announcing Works with Nest integration this morning. What’s this mean for you? If you have the Nest thermostat and one or more Wemo switches, such as a Wemo Insight Switch or Light Switch, they’ll now work together, making for a more integrated (and thusly capable and efficient) home.

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