Category Archives: Home
How often have you yelled out at your mom, dad, partner, housemate, friend, or co-worker asking them if they might have seen your phone, only to be told that they don’t know? The good news is that you can now do the same with Google Home and hopefully you will be given a more definitive answer.
Google has recently enabled a new voice command for Google Home in which users will be able to ask the smart speaker, “Find my phone”. Of course it won’t be able to tell you that your phone has fallen behind the bedside table, but basically it will help users to ring their phone so that they can at least follow the sound.
For Android devices, Google Home will also be able to enable the ringer on phones that have been put on silent, so if you silenced your phone not to worry as this feature will allow it to ring anyway. It only seems to work on phones for now so for tablet owners who misplaced their device, you’ll have to try searching for it manually.
It’s actually a pretty obvious and clever use of the feature and we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s upcoming HomePod speakers will offer the same functionality. That being said, this will work across all of Google’s Home series of smart speakers, including the newly announced Home Mini and Home Max.
One of the weird quirks about the Google Home device is that when you try and connect it to your Home app on Android, you couldn’t assign them to rooms. You could assign other devices to individual rooms, like the bedroom, kitchen, living room, and etc., and control them using Google Home, but the Google Home device itself could not be assigned.
We’re not sure if that was an oversight or a bug, but the good news is that according to Android Police, an update to the app has changed that because now users can assign Google Home devices to specific rooms. This means that if you have a Google Home device in your living room and you want to stop playing music and turn off the lights at the same time, you could just say, “turn off living room” and it will turn off all devices connected and assigned to the living room.
It’s not exactly a groundbreaking or game-changing feature, but it is one that we’re sure Google Home owners would be happy to have since it does add a certain level of convenience as it skips an extra step. The update to the app should already be live so if you are using Google Home and a bunch of various connected devices, then perhaps this update could be worth checking out via the Google Play Store.
When Apple launched its HomeKit platform, Philips was one of the companies that was quick to jump on board with support for some of their devices. The good news is that if you owned a Philips Hue device that did not have HomeKit support, a recent update by Philips should address that.
The company has recently issued an update to its software and in turn has brought HomeKit support to more Hue devices, such as the Hue tap and the Hue dimmer switch. This means that if you own either device, you should now be able to control them via the Home app, whereas previously the Hue tap and dimmer switch was limited to controlling just the Hue lights and had to be configured via the Philips Hue app.
In addition to the tap and dimmer, the Hue motion sensor has also retroactively gained HomeKit support which means that it appears in the Home app as a sensor, and in turn can be used to trigger HomeKit scenes and other automations with other HomeKit enabled devices. According to Philips, “Apple HomeKit compatibility for Hue accessories Philips Hue is extending its Apple HomeKit compatibility for Hue accessories: Hue tap, Hue dimmer switch and Hue motion sensor. Meaning with a press of a button, or movement of your body, you can activate your favorite Apple Home app scenes.”
The update to the Philips Hue app is now live and will bump it to version 2.16.0, so head on over to the iTunes App Store for the download if you haven’t updated already.
Earlier this year, IKEA announced that they would be making its smart lighting system compatible with Apple’s HomeKit system, and an update pushed out in August did exactly that. However at that time only the white lightbulbs were compatible with HomeKit, meaning that for those going for colored options, there was no HomeKit compatibility yet.
However the good news is that HomeKit compatibility has finally come to IKEA’s TRADFRI colored smart lightbulbs, although as it stands it seems that only model is being offered in the form of the E27 which is also bundled with a remote, meaning that outfitting your home with many of these lights might not be practical since there are no standalone bulbs just yet, but either way we suppose it’s progress.
While IKEA is known as a furniture maker, the company has in recent times been trying to keep itself relevant, such as by having EV chargers in their parking lots, creating furniture with wireless charger built into them, and also experimenting with augmented reality like with Apple’s ARKit and launching the iOS “Places” app.
IKEA’s smart lighting system is just one of many solutions being offered in the market today, although admittedly their platform is a bit more affordable compared to the rest, and with HomeKit compatibility, they could be worth checking out.
If you’re worried about who’s ringing your doorbell and who might have come to your front door while you are not home, there are quite a few camera options out there in the market today, such as the Nest Cam Outdoor, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, August might have you covered as well.
The company has recently announced the August Doorbell Cam Pro which is a smart doorbell combined with a camera. According to the company, “The August Doorbell Cam Pro notifies you when anyone rings the doorbell or when motion is detected. You’re able to see and speak to visitors at your front door through the August app, even when you’re not home.”
This is essentially an upgrade over its predecessor and will also come with a built-in floodlight for color night-time videos. It also comes with a feature that starts recording a few seconds before motion is detected so it gives users a bit of context as to what might have happened before.
As is the case with August’s smart home devices, the Doorbell Cam Pro is said to be easy to install with a USB dock for setting it up and a new bracket that makes it easy to wire and mount it. The announcement of the August Doorbell Cam Pro was made alongside the company’s new Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro devices for the home.
A lot of smart locks out there for your home can be a bit troublesome to install if you’re not particularly handy or familiar with the process. That’s one advantage that August has over the competition, which is that it makes installation a cinch as it basically replaces your existing inside lock with the smart lock, meaning you won’t have to dismantle the entire thing.
For those who can’t be bothered to hire a locksmith, you might be interested to learn that August has unveiled its new smart lock offerings. One of the new models offered by August will be an entry-level model that will feature a $149 price tag. It also sports a new taller, oval-shaped design with a thumb turn versus the knob design in the previous models, although the downside to its entry-level pricing is that it won’t support Apple’s HomeKit.
For those who don’t mind spending a bit more, the August Smart Lock Pro will be the higher-end model of the two and in terms of design, will feature a similar design to its predecessors. It will also feature improved internals with HomeKit support, Alexa and Google Assistant integration, and Z-Wave Plus compatibility. It also comes with the August Connect WiFi bridge that will allow users to enable remote access, and is priced at $279.
Both the Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro will also play nicely with August’s DoorSense feature which can tell when a door isn’t closed, and will also work with other features like Auto-Lock that will lock as soon as the door is closed. Both the locks are available in silver and dark grey and will be available starting from today.
Image credit – University of California San Diego
As solar panels draw energy from the sun to power homes and offices, in case you did not know, during a power outage, such devices are actually powered down due to safety reasons, which means that if you were hoping to rely on your solar panel to continue providing your home with energy during a blackout, you’d be mistaken.
This is where devices like Tesla’s Powerwall comes in handy where it can provide homeowners with backup power in such an event. However thanks to work done by engineers at the University of California San Diego, they have come up with an algorithm that will actually be able to take advantage of your solar panels during an outage to potentially help provide energy to other homes or places in need.
This algorithm will help homes to disconnect from the grid, and use and share the renewable energy they generated from their solar panels to other areas that might have need of it. The algorithm works by taking into account things like weather forecast, the amount of energy available, how much energy a home might need, connected devices like electric cars, and will also prioritize equipment that needs it, like life-support devices.
According to the paper’s first author Abdulelah H. Habib, “We were inspired to start investigating a way to use renewable power during outages after Hurricane Sandy affected eight million people on the East Coast and left some without power for up to two weeks.”