iCloud+ makes your online activities more secure on Apple devices

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iCloud+
Included at no extra cost with a premium iCloud subscription.
Photo: Apple

iCloud+ is a new service that promises to make your online activities more private and more secure. It’s included at no extra cost with a premium iCloud subscription, and it works across all your Apple devices.

Here’s what Private Relay, Hide My Email, and HomeKit Secure Video in iCloud+ can do for you.

How to allow a guest to control your HomeKit devices

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Add a guest to the Home app
The safe and easy way to share HomeKit control.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

If you’re going away this summer and leaving your home in the hands of someone else, you might want to give them control of your HomeKit devices. And it’s really easy to do that inside the Home app.

Here’s how to invite anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Mac to control your smart home gadgets as a guest.

Take push-button control of HomeKit accessories with Belkin remote [Review]

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Belkin Wemo Stage Scene Controller review
Press any of the three buttons on Belkin’s Wemo Stage Scene Controller to activate HomeKit accessories.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

You can activate up to six preprogrammed HomeKit scenes or accessories with the push of a button on Belkin’s Wemo Stage Scene Controller. The palm-size remote sits on a table or hangs on a wall, and lets you easily control HomeKit accessories all over your home. No wiring involved.

I’m fully committed to Apple’s home-automation system, and Belkin’s latest HomeKit gadget fit neatly into my setup. Here’s why.

New home automation alliance should deliver more HomeKit-compatible devices

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Matter is a new interoperable homer automation standard back by Apple, Amazon, Google and m ore.
Matter is going to… matter to fans of home automation.
Photo: Connectivity Standards Alliance

Apple is a leading member of a new organization creating a standard for home automation devices. A primary goal is interoperability, allowing accessories to connect to HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, etc.

Previously, it was up to the makers of smart home products to make devices that worked with more than one voice control system. Many chose to support just one.

Belkin’s new remote puts HomeKit at your fingertips

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Belkin Wemo Stage Scene Controller remote puts HomeKit at your fingertips
The Belkin Wemo Stage Scene Controller replaces light switches with a much more powerful option.
Photo: Belkin

A wall switch can turn on a light or two, but the Wemo Stage Scene Controller from Belkin can activate an entire scene, controlling lights, thermostats, music and other devices all around the house.

It ties into Apple’s HomeKit home automation system allowing someone to press a single button to launch their movie night scene, or wake their house up in the morning, for example.

Roku OS update adds AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to older streamers

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Roku OS update adds AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to older streamers
Roku got closer to Apple with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. Even the new Voice Remote Pro has an Apple connection.
Photo: Roku

The release of Roku OS 10 brings support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to several more Roku streaming devices and smart TVs. These streaming options were once reserved for pricey settop boxes but are now available on very affordable devices.

Apple could combine HomePod speaker, Apple TV and smart camera for ultimate smart home device

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HomePod in China
Apple's got an intriguing concept for a next-gen smart home device.
Photo: Apple

Apple is working on a new smart home product that would combine Apple TV, a HomePod speaker and a camera for FaceTime or Zoom-style video conferencing, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The company “has been a laggard in the smart-home space, but [this] versatile new device in early development could change that,” according to the story, which describes the in-development product as “Apple’s most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date.”

Give your drab Home app a spiffy remodel with HomePaper

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HomePaper for HomeKit lets you customize the Home app.
HomePaper lets you quickly give the boring Home app a fresh coat of paint.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

New app HomePaper for HomeKit lets you quickly customize the look of Apple’s notoriously bland-looking Home app — with zero hassles.

With the app, you simply select a photo from your iPhone or iPad camera or take a new one. Then you can quickly adjust the color(s) and make your own customized wallpaper for the Home app. There’s no fussing around with a complicated image editor or painstaking resizing required.

Here’s how to use HomePaper, which runs on iPhone and iPad, to give your Home app the remodel it deserves.

Garage-based man cave and home office relies on a killer screen [Setups]

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In this setup, an LG curved monitor is great for work as well as movies and TV.
In this setup, an LG curved monitor is great for work as well as movies and TV.
Photo: Paul O'Toole

An IT professional who specializes in Mac and iOS home implementations probably has a leg up on the next guy when it comes to building an Apple-centric home office and man cave.

Or is it a man cave and home office? We’ll let Paul O’Toole, an IT pro from Worcestershire, England, decide that. It’s his, after all. He calls it a “sitting room,” actually.

He turned his garage into an office and movie palace, thanks to an LG 34UC99 curved monitor and a pair of HomePods running with his Mac Pro.

Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug lets you extend HomeKit to your yard

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Lutron Caseta Outdoor Plug takes HomeKit outside.
Think of all the ways HomeKit can enhance your outdoor living space.
Photo: Lutron

CES 2021 bug Lutron is taking its top-notch HomeKit smart plug outside. The upcoming Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug is a beefy-looking, iP-65-rated AC outlet that’s built to take all the abuse Mother Nature can dish out.

Designed to give you control over things like outdoor lighting and pumps, it’s smart enough that it can adjust your timers when daylight saving time arrives.

“It’s essentially weatherproof, dirtproof and sunproof,” said Matt Swatsky, Lutron’s vice president of residential mid-market business, in a press release Monday. “A homeowner can now enjoy all the benefits of a Caséta system for their outside spaces.”