Google Home

Update to Matter standard makes your fridge smarter

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Matter standard logo
The Matter 2.1 update adds support for 9 new kinds of appliances and more.
Photo: Connectivity Standards Alliance

The Matter connectivity standard helps different devices and smart-home platforms like Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa work together. And with an update Monday, it added nine home-appliance types and got other improvements, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) behind it said.

Matter specification 2.1 adds support for refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry washers, robot vacuums, air-quality sensors, air purifiers, fans, stand-alone room air conditioners, and smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms.

HomeKit-enabled Yale Smart Cabinet Lock protects your booze and meds

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Secure your valuables with the Yale Smart Cabinet Lock with HomeKit support.
Secure your valuables with the Yale Smart Cabinet Lock with HomeKit support.
Photo: Yale

The Yale lock company dates back to 1868, but that doesn’t mean it’s only about that heavy padlock grandpa had on his shed. These days, it even makes smart locks for your smart home system. The Yale Smart Cabinet Lock, for example, integrates with HomeKit to protect your indoor valuables.

Add dumb appliances to your smart home setup with SwitchBot

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SwitchBot Hub Mini simplifies and enhances your home automation.
SwitchBot Hub Mini simplifies and enhances your home automation.
Photo: SwitchBot

This home automation post is brought to you by SwitchBot.

These days, people control more and more aspects of their lives remotely through apps. And it’s no longer just “smart” devices like wired doorbells, thermostats and lights. Even your not-so-smart devices can join the party.

Now, with SwitchBot products, you can control many of your ordinary, old-fashioned appliances and use them with home-automation systems like Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Join the One Dollar Club

And even better, right now you can try SwitchBot for just a buck by joining the One Dollar Club.

SwitchBot makes about a dozen products. Today we’ll focus on two, the SwitchBot Bot smart switch and the SwitchBot Hub Mini smart remote. They can be used separately or together.

Sonos claims Google and Amazon stole its smart speaker tech

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Sonos Move
Sonos was the first to make great smart speakers. Now everyone's copying.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos, the smart speaker company that (usually) plays nice with pretty much every other tech company, is fighting back against Google and Amazon for allegedly stealing some of its secret sauce.

Two lawsuits were filed by Sonos this week against Google that accuses the search engine giant of infringing on five of its patents. Sonos claims Amazon is guilty of the same thing but the company decided to only sue Google because it can’t take on two tech giants at once.

Apple still struggling to make a sound in Europe’s smart speaker market

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
Google and Amazon continue to lead.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There’s a new challenger to the smart speaker throne — and, no, it’s not Apple’s HomePod.

According to the latest data from IDC, in Europe Google has overtaken Amazon as the market leader in smart speakers. Google Home devices accounted for 45.1% of shipped smart speakers in the region in Q1. That beats Amazon’s 41.8%. Apple’s HomePod doesn’t even even get a mention.

China overtakes U.S. as world’s biggest smart speaker market

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
Are you a smart speaker user?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s biggest smart speaker market. According to new figures from Canalys, the Chinese market grew nearly 500% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019.

Approximately 10.6 million units shipped in China over the quarter, compared to 5 million in the U.S. This means that China is now 51% of the global global smart speaker market. The U.S., on the other hand, comes in second place at just 24%.

Apple Music coming to Google Home devices [Updated]

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Save $30 on the Google Home smart speaker.
Coming soon to a Google speaker near you.
Photo: Google

Updated: Google  says this was the result of a bug, and it has “nothing to announce regarding updates to Google Home.”

 

Apple Music is on its way to Google Home devices. In the Google Home app for iOS devices, Apple Music is listed as a listening option. However, as of now, it can’t be linked with a Google Home device.

Apple’s streaming music service previously arrived on Amazon Echo devices in December. Between them, Google and Amazon make up the overwhelming majority of smart speakers.

Smart speaker market doubles in a year, but HomePod remains a bit player

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
HomePod still lags behind its Google and Amazon rivals in sales.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

As the smart speaker market continues to pick up, Apple’s HomePod still lags behind devices from Amazon and Google. Both companies benefit from being earlier movers — and from offering products at a cheaper price point.

That’s the takeaway from a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners that describes holiday trends for HomePod, Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Google Home tops Siri and HomePod in smart speaker test

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HomePod market share
The new HomePod could offer a neat new feature.
Photo: Apple

Apple may have been late to the smart speaker game but its HomePod is showing signs it could one day outperform them all.

But only if Apple gives Siri the power.

In Loup Ventures annual smart speaker comparisons, Google Assistant understood all 800 questions and answered nearly 88 percent of them correctly. In its first Loup Ventures test, the HomePod with Siri at the helm misunderstood just three questions and managed to answer correctly nearly 75 percent of its queries.

Echo sells better but HomePod sells smarter

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HomePod market share
The new HomePod could offer a neat new feature.
Photo: Apple

Amazon’s line up of Echo speakers accounts for 63 percent of all smart speakers in use, while Apple’s late-to-market offering, the HomePod, has just a 4 percent share of the market.

While the results of a quarterly consumer survey, published today in a report by Strategy Analytics, seem daunting for Apple, the numbers reflect only one side of the story.

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?

HomePod sales reportedly hit 3 million units in U.S.

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
HomePod sales are "small but meaningful," according to a new report.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The smart speaker contest may be a two-horse race between the Amazon Echo and Google Home, but Apple’s HomePod is starting to carve out a share as well.

According to new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, the total smart speaker market has now reached 50 million units in the United States. Among the installed base of U.S. devices, Amazon has 70 percent, Google has 24 percent and Apple has 6 percent.

HomePod will never become the iPhone of smart speakers

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
Doomed to remain a minor player? We'll see.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The smart speaker install base will approach 100 million units by the end of 2018 — but Apple will make up only a tiny piece of the market.

At least, that’s according to analysts at Canalys, who forecast how things are shaping up for the various Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod devices currently winding their way into kitchens and living rooms around the world. Their take home message? That, unless something big changes, Apple is kinda screwed!

5 ways HomePod could catch up with its rivals

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HomePod Close Up
We like the HomePod. We just think there's a lot more Apple could do with it.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The iPhone dominates smartphone sales charts. The iPad is so ubiquitous that, for many, its name is a catch-all term for any tablet. The Mac is the most desirable computer out there. But the HomePod? Not so much.

According to figures released this week, Apple’s smart speaker made up just a tiny 6 percent share of all smart speaker shipments for the first quarter of 2018. What is Apple doing wrong? And what could it do to turn things around? Here are five suggestions for HomePod improvements we’d like to see.

HomePod inventories pile up after early demand dies quickly

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Apple HomePod volume controls
HomePod sales are already suffering.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has been forced to cut HomePod orders as inventories continue to build up in its retail stores, according to a new report.

The $349 speaker enjoyed a promising start when it made its debut in February, but demand has fallen quickly as smart speaker shoppers turn to more affordable options from the likes of Amazon.

6 things Apple should do to fix Siri

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Siri display
"I don't have these features. Would you like me to search the web for you?"
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Siri kind of sucks, despite its increasingly prominent role in the Apple ecosystem.

With the general verdict on the HomePod being “great speaker, shame about Siri,” what does Apple need to do in order to catch up with its rivals? Here are six Siri improvements we’d love to see Apple implement as soon as possible.

Everything you need to know about HomePod

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HomePod news, HomePod reviews and HomePod how-tos
The HomePod may be the best speaker you can buy for under $85,000.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s HomePod arrives in homes today. It’s already sold out online, but if you’re lucky you might still snap one up in an Apple store. And you probably should, because the HomePod looks to be just about the best small speaker you can buy — in terms of musical performance, anyway.

If you want to find out how to set up and get the best of your new HomePod, or if you want to read a bit more before deciding whether to get one, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find all our HomePod coverage: how-tos, reviews, tips and opinions.

HomePod sounds great, but you’re locked in [Review]

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Apple HomePod volume controls
The HomePod is Apple's first step into the smart speaker arena, but does it emerge victorious?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

There are boatloads of smart speakers out there, but nothing quite like HomePod.

Like many Apple products that came before it, HomePod is here to revolutionize an industry. It’s certainly not first to market, but Cupertino’s plan is to make all HomePod competitors insignificant. The new Apple smart speaker uses cutting-edge technology that delivers outstanding sound quality to do just that.

You can’t buy another speaker of this kind for $349. That price tag is not exactly cheap, but if you love music, HomePod should be at the top of your shopping list.