Apple steps up smart home fight against Amazon and Google

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
Apple wants to make a bigger mark on your home.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple is ramping up its smart home efforts in a bid to better compete against Amazon and Google, according to a new report.

Cupertino is said to be hiring for a team that will be focused on revamping HomeKit software and devices. It also wants to encourage more third-party manufacturers to support its platform.

Amazon aims for Apple with 15 surprising new products

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EchoStudio
Amazon fired shots at the HomePod, AirPods, CarPlay and more today.
Photo: Amazon

Amazon is ready to push Alexa into every single corner of your life with a new wave of Echo products unveiled this morning.

Armed with 15 new products, Amazon is ready to challenge Apple like never before. The company even introduced some bold new products, like new smart glasses and a smart ring — wearables that give you 24/7 access to Alexa wherever you go. While Apple’s iPhone 11 keynote featured zero mentions of Siri, Amazon’s yearly product keynote put Alexa’s might on full display.

HomePod is finally on its way to Japan

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HomePod market share
It will be on sale “this summer.”
Photo: Apple

Apple is gearing up to launch HomePod in Japan — more than two years after the device got its first unveiling.

Smart speaker shoppers will be able to pick one up in the coming weeks for 32,800 yen (approx. $301). HomePod will then be available in a total of 11 countries.

Amazon buys mesh Wi-Fi router maker Eero

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eero
Eero monitors things like network throughput and interference, adjusting itself automatically.
Photo: Leander Kahney / Cult of Mac

Right when Apple has decided to get out of the router business, one of its biggest competitors is ready to jump in.

Amazon revealed today that it reached an agreement to acquire mesh Wi-Fi router maker Eero, giving the online retailer another powerful tool in its effort to dominate the smart home market.

Amazon’s Drop In basically turns Apple FaceTime bug into a feature [Opinion]

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facebook eavesdropping microphone
Smart speakers are microphones that other people can listen to.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You know the Apple FaceTime bug that everyone’s going crazy about? It’s a huge screwup, for sure, but at least we know it’s just a bug. Being able to call someone and eavesdrop on their conversations without them knowing is clearly a privacy nightmare, which is why Apple disabled Group FaceTime until it can issue a proper fix.

Amazon, on the other hand, offers silent eavesdropping as a feature for its Echo speakers. It’s called Drop In, and if you’ve enabled it, you should probably turn it off.

Apple Music will come to third-party Alexa speakers

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Ask Alexa to manage your appointments for you.
Look out for Apple Music on other Alexa speakers soon.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple Music will make its way to third-party Alexa speakers eventually, Amazon has confirmed.

The streaming service finally joined Alexa earlier this week — you may have gotten an announcement notification on your iPhone — but it’s currently available only on Amazon’s own Echo devices.