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 as matchmaker
As if you have to ask
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.

Sonos speakers just got smarter with AirPlay 2 upgrade

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

Sonos is opening its speakers to a new world of listening experiences today with the addition of AirPlay 2.

The smart speaker company teased AirPlay 2 support last month during the introduction of its Beam speaker. Now, just over a month after Apple added AirPlay 2 as part of iOS 11.4, Sonos is the first third-party speaker company to dive head first into the new tech. And the company added a few tricks your HomePod can’t match.

Ex-Google AI expert will fix Siri’s serious flaws

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Meet Siri's new boss, John Giannandrea.
Siri's new boss, John Giannandrea, has the job of making this voice assistant less terrible.
Photo: Apple

Craig Federighi is no longer in charge of Siri. Responsibility for Apple’s troubled voice assistant has been given to John Giannandrea, who is now in charge of all Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts.

Siri is seen as poor competition for Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant. Its weakness is hurting sales of Apple products, including the HomePod.

5 key areas Siri needs to improve in

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Siri as matchmaker
A survey found what people use their smartspeakers for, which should serve as a blueprint for Siri improvements.
Photo: Apple

Most people would agree that Siri is way behind its competitors. But Apple recently made moves that indicate it’s working to improve this voice assistant.

A British survey discovered what smartspeaker owners actually use them for. This could help Apple decide what new features to add to Siri, as well as the ones that need shoring up.

Theoretical improvements: The status of Siri in iOS 12

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The iPhone's home button could be going away.
Siri should be a lot smarter.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

WWDC 2018 bug Cult of Mac In the battle of digital voice assistants, people often mock Siri for lagging behind competing products from Amazon and Google. During Monday’s WWDC 2018 keynote, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, glossed over those failings, calling Siri the “world’s most-used digital assistant.”

What he neglected to mention was the increasing frustration of Siri users expecting more from a voice assistant. From simple requests returning inaccurate results to the inability to performthat he compound actions, Siri was in desperate need of attention going into WWDC. But will the Siri upgrades in iOS 12 do the trick?

Sonos busts out new Beam sound bar, plus AirPlay 2 support

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sonos beam
Sonos Beam is sleek but packs a punch.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos is making a power play to take over your living room with its latest smart speaker called Sonos Beam.

Beam is a new sound bar that is smaller than Sonos’ Playbar and Playbase, but it also packs some new features like a five-microphone array and it plays well with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and of course, Siri.

Watch out HomePod, this thing looks amazing: