Time and location triggers make Shortcuts far more useful in iOS 13

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Shortcuts iOS 13
This is Shortcuts in iOS 13. It looks great.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Shortcuts app is already great, but in iOS 13 it gets even better. You can still create simple or complex workflows to do all kinds of tasks, from downloading YouTube videos or setting a quick meditation timer to resizing a whole folder of photos. But until now, you had to trigger those shortcuts manually.

In iOS 13, your iPhone or iPad can run a shortcut at a preset time or when you arrive at a specific location. This is huge.

Apple hires smart lock CEO to help make its smart home dreams a reality

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HomeKit
Apple's HomeKit platform could get a big boost in 2019.
Photo: Texas Instruments

Apple has secured the expertise of Sam Jadallah, former CEO of smart lock company Otto, to head up its smart home initiatives.

Combined with Apple’s recent acquisition of voice-enabled tech company Pullstring, it’s a sure sign that Apple wants to up its game in home automation.

Handy Shortcuts app launches alongside iOS 12

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Shortcuts app from iOS 12
Apple's new Shortcuts automation app has to be downloaded separately from iOS 12.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The full version of iOS 12 is now available for everyone. One of its cool new features is Siri Shortcuts, but those who want to automate functions on their iPhone also need to download a separate application from the App Store.

The new utility lets people create scripts that collect several actions together, then launch them with a voice command. The idea is to let you automate actions that you perform regularly.

Philips Adore mirror brings HomeKit automation into the bathroom

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The Philips Adore bathroom mirror can e controlled through Apple's HomeKit home automation.
The Philips Adore bathroom mirror can be controlled through Apple's HomeKit home automation.
Photo: Philips

Think about how nice it would be to dim the lights without having to get out of the tub. That’s one of the promises of the Adore Bathroom lighted mirror as it can be controlled from your iPhone or iPad.

The center of this product is a standard mirror that’s about 20 inches across. This is surrounded by a while LED light that can be dim or bright.

New HomeKit authentication system could bring tons more accessories

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An updated version of HomeKit HomeKit really improves the Wemo Mini Smart Plug.
An updated version of HomeKit HomeKit really improves the Wemo Mini Smart Plug.
Photo: Wemo

Accessories can now support Apple’s HomeKit without a special chip. The Wemo Mini Smart Plug is the first to use this new system of software authentication.

The Mini Smart Plug ($34.99) offers a single electrical socket that can be controlled by an iPhone though HomeKit. Anything plugged in can be turned on or off remotely, or on a schedule.

Yes, you’ll be able to mute ‘always listening’ HomePod

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HomePod
Because of course you will.
Photo: Apple

New icons uncovered in the latest iOS 11.2.5 developer build confirm that, yes, HomePod owners will be able to disable the microphone on Apple’s smart speaker should so they wish to do so.

Given Apple’s privacy-conscious policies, and the fact that rival speakers made by Amazon and Google allow the same to be done, it’s no surprise that Apple would make that an option on HomePod. Still, it could help ease fears among customers concerned about the risk of housing an “always listening” speaker in their homes.

Tim Cook is living in the future (and you can too)

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This is not Tim Cook's actual home.
This is not Tim Cook's actual home.
Photo: Samuel Zeller/Unsplash CC

Tim Cook is living the Jetsons lifestyle — minus the jetpack and flying car — thanks to Siri and the growing number of HomeKit devices on the market.

The Apple CEO offered a rare glimpse into his private life Tuesday during Apple’s quarterly financial report, painting a picture of techno-utopian comfort and ease. It was Cook’s most personal world-beating earnings call ever, and it sent a message: Apple is serious about home automation.

Elgato’s HomeKit motion sensor is ready to automate your house

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The new Eve Motion sensor can detect when you get home.
The new Eve Motion sensor can detect when you get home.
Photo: Elgato

Turning your dumb old house into a Jetsons-style smart home of the future just got a little bit easier, with Elgato’s introduction of a super-cheap motion sensor.

The HomeKit-connected device, called Eve Motion, lets users pair it with other smart appliances and gadgets to automate workflows. You can then use Eve Motion to trigger a series of tasks, like turning on the lights when it detects that you walk into a room.