Home Automation

Microsoft Cortana now features IFTTT integration

Microsoft Cortana now features IFTTT integration

While Microsoft's Cortana struggles to keep up with Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant in the growing smart assistant market, it's still making effort to stay relevant. Its latest feature is integration with IFTTT, the platform that lets users connect hundreds of different apps and services, creating automated processes through the use of "triggers" and "actions."

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Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo showdown

Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo showdown

With the launch of the Apple HomePod, and pending the launch of a Bixby speaker, if there will ever be one, the major pieces on the smart speaker game board are now all in place. And so are the three major voice-controlled AI-driven smart assistants (sorry Cortana, you’ll have to sit this one out). That means, of course, questions on which one you should buy. “Should” is probably too strong a word, because it really depends on multiple factors. We can, however, give you the lay of the land so that you can decide better where to sink your hard-earned money into.

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Smart assistants need to be more proactive to be useful

Smart assistants need to be more proactive to be useful

You have an important meeting with a client at 9 a.m. but you got so engrossed in that novel you read at night that you overslept. Luckily, your smart assistant (let’s call it “Bucksbee”), sounded a reminder an hour before your appointment. You frantically prepare, without giving your phone a second glance. You rush out the door to the nearest bus stop, only to be drenched in an unexpected (for you) downpour. You hop on a bus, soaking wet, but had enough time to try in the unexpected (for you) heavy traffic. You mentally compose a profound apology email and then whip out your phone, only to see the client sent an email hours earlier canceling the meeting for an emergency. We humans sometimes aren’t smart, but our smart assistants are often not that much better.

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Vizio Alexa control goes live for 4K TVs

Vizio Alexa control goes live for 4K TVs

Vizio TVs are learning to play nicely with Amazon Alexa, with a new skill for the virtual assistant that enables voice control of select sets. The Vizio SmartCast skill for Amazon Alexa can, when enabled on an Echo speaker or other device that supports the assistant, remotely turn the TV on and off by voice, as well as replace other features you'd usually have to reach for the remote for.

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Google Home finally shows visual results on Chromecast

Google Home finally shows visual results on Chromecast

Google has a habit of teasing many things and then sometimes forgetting about them as time passes. At the I/O developer conference last year, it showed off what would practically become the precursor to the new breed of Assistant-powered smart displays unveiled last CES. It teased how asking Google Home would, at times, pop up the answer on a Chromecast-connected TV. That feature has finally arrived and now you can enjoy actually seeing the weather rather than waiting for Google Assistant to finish rattling off other information.

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HomePod review round-up: Apple’s smart speaker judged

HomePod review round-up: Apple’s smart speaker judged

It's fair to say that Apple's HomePod has been one of the company's more controversial products in recent years, and the first batch of HomePod reviews aren't likely to settle those arguments. The smart speaker is set to ship this Friday, February 9, giving Apple Music fans and Siri skeptics alike the opportunity to see how well both play together. So, what can they expect?

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HomePod’s Siri limits raise questions about $349 speaker

HomePod’s Siri limits raise questions about $349 speaker

Apple's HomePod is taking a seriously different route than rival smart speakers, something the list of absent Siri features at launch only underscores. Currently up for preorder, and set to ship on February 9th, HomePod is being billed as "the ultimate music authority" by Apple, and the best way to consume Apple Music. However, that has some implications if you're expecting a clear Amazon Echo or Google Home alternative.

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Sonos One deal sees stereo pair match HomePod’s price

Sonos One deal sees stereo pair match HomePod’s price

The HomePod may be close at hand, but Sonos isn't resting on its laurels, announcing a deal that cuts the price of a pair of its Alexa-powered speakers to match Apple. The deal on a Sonos One duo also serves to highlight one of its rival's missing features, the ability to link two wireless speakers together and use them as a stereo pair.

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HomePod is a sweet-sounding uphill battle

HomePod is a sweet-sounding uphill battle

Apple's HomePod was delayed, and all we got when it finally showed up was a new release date. Surprise bubbled around the announcement of the smart speaker's February 9 launch earlier this week, after Apple failed to use its extra time to address some of the more frequent criticisms HomePod faced when it debuted roughly eight months ago. No multi-room playback at release, no expansion to grudgingly accommodate third-party music services, and no price change from $349.

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Apple HomePod gets FCC approval, expected to launch soon

Apple HomePod gets FCC approval, expected to launch soon

For those waiting to get their hands on Apple's upcoming HomePod, the wait appears to soon be over. The Siri-powered smart speaker was delayed from its original release last fall to sometime in "early 2018," but the device was recently granted approval by the FCC for sale in the US. There's still no solid launch date, however, but the approval means the HomePod could soon be challenging the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers for users' living rooms.

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Comcast wants to make Xfinity the center of your home automation setup

Comcast wants to make Xfinity the center of your home automation setup

Home automation and IoT services have been a pretty big focus of CES 2018 thus far, and Comcast wants in the action. Today Comcast announced its intention to turn its Xfinity platform into the centerpiece of a new home automation service, which will be free to existing Xfinity customers. When this roll out is finished, 15 million Xfinity customers will have access to these new home automation features.

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Milo smart speaker doubles as home hub, Google Assistant inside

Milo smart speaker doubles as home hub, Google Assistant inside

CES is usually a time for big announcements but, this year, there is a somewhat silent undercurrent happening. An army is silently growing, made up of smart speakers that integrate this or that AI assistant. But, smart as they are, they are often just another device you have to add to your network. Startup Hogar Controls thinks it has the solution. Meet Milo, a smart speaker that almost looks like any other smart speaker, except for one invisible talent. It can also double as the central hub for your smart home instead of being just another node in the network.

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