College freshman sees upside of hunkering down in his parents’ house [Setups]

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Shad Ahmad's straightforward setup centers on a MacBook Pro and 32-inch monitor.
Shad Ahmad's straightforward setup centers on a MacBook Pro and 32-inch monitor.
Photo: Shahid Ahmad

Shad Ahmad was a hard-studying freshman majoring in biology and minoring in history at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Going home to continue classes for a semester remotely from his parents’ house in Wisconsin may not have been ideal, but Ahmad found a comforting upside. Integrated smart technology makes his life easier, he told Cult of Mac.

This stylish smart lamp connects to Amazon Alexa to control your home

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This smart light has the features and functionality of Amazon Alexa
This smart light comes with Alexa inside.
Photo: GE Lighting

If you’re limited on space, you know the special value of multitasking furniture and organizers. Whether it’s a standing desk you can easily convert, cord organizers to keep cable clutter at bay, or other helpful space-saving goods, it certainly helps to decorate your pad with stuff that performs more than one function.

This C by GE Sol WiFi Alexa Enabled Smart Light doesn’t just brighten your space with a modern glow. It also fully connects to Amazon Alexa to give you better control of your living space.

Meross HomeKit-compatible smart plug adds home automation on the cheap

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Meross Smart WiFi Plug Mini comes in 2-packs
The Meross Smart WiFi Plug Mini can be controlled or scheduled through Apple’s Home app.
Photo: Meross

A HomeKit-compatible smart plug is an easy way to try home automation. And the Meross Smart WiFi Plug Mini is an especially inexpensive option. It enables a lamp or other simple electrical device to be remotely controlled from an iPhone using Siri voice commands.

Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Siri is found on a whole lot of devices.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Thanks to Amazon’s Echo devices, Alexa is probably the AI assistant most likely to come up in a conversation. But Siri is still the most popular virtual assistant of them all.

According to a new report by Futuresource Consulting, Siri currently leads the virtual assistant pack with a 35% global marketshare. Google Assistant follows behind with 9% of the marketshare, while Alexa makes up just 4% of AI assistants.

Sonos will add Google Assistant to its speakers this year

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Sonos supports AirPlay2
Sonos speakers connect to over 80 streaming services.
Photo: Sonos

CES 2019 bug Sonos is about to add a new weapon to its smart speakers that will help make it even more competitive against Apple’s HomePod.

The company revealed today that it plans to bring Google Assistant to its smart speakers later this year. Beta testing for the new feature has already begun, allowing Google’s Siri-competitor to be the main voice input on some Sonos speaker models.

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Amazon Echo
Watch out: there's a fake Alexa app about.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Get plugged into the IoT on a budget for the home [Deals]

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These deals prove you don't need to be rich to get in on the Internet of Things.
These deals prove you don't need to be rich to get in on the Internet of Things.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

If you’ve read about technology in the last five years, you’ve heard about the internet of things. It represents a merging of the physical and digital worlds, where devices of all kinds are network-enhanced.

That futuristic world is already here, and we rounded up some of our best deals on IoT-ready gear so you can embrace it fully. You’ll find great buys on an Alexa-enabled smart clock, an app-connected outlet, a mini vacuum droid and more.

Moodo lets you control the way your home smells from your iPhone

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Moodo
Want to make your home smell nice? There's an app for that.
Photo: Moodo

Entrepreneurs are tripping over themselves to make “smart” versions of every product we already own. As such, it was only going to be so long before someone made a smart scent dispenser. That product is called Moodo. It’s a smart home fragrance box that lets you control how your home smells from your iPhone. Or your smart speaker.

But does it smell like a winner, or is this one gadget we’re turning our nose up at?

IQ test of virtual assistants shows Siri’s smarts are on the rise

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Siri Alexa in voice report
So selfless, that Siri.
Photo: Apple

If Siri seems to be of greater service to you lately, an annual IQ test comparing virtual assistants shows its definitely getting smarter.

Loup Ventures annually peppers the various digital assistants with five categories of questions and when it comes to accuracy and comprehension of a user’s question, Google Assistant remains the best. Siri, however, is right behind Google while Amazon’s Alex and Cortana lags behind in that order.