smart home

Trying to make your home smarter? Grab any of these 8 devices.

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Take a look at these 8 smart home essentials.
Want to transform your home into a smart home? Check out these 8 essential electronics.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

If you’re trying to add some smart functionality to your home without major renovations or investments, there’s a lot you can do. Whether it’s for convenience or accessibility, automating and streamlining things at home can have a drastic effect on your quality of life. With a few simple additions, you can do things like program when the lights will come on, gain control over home security and more. The setup process for some of these smart home additions is quick and painless, too, especially when many modern smart home features are controlled by a few key devices. If you want to create the best smart home system for you, then take a look at these eight deals. 

Customize your space with Lutron’s updated smart shades for HomeKit

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Some of Lutron's HomeKit-enabled Serena shades can really block a lot of light.
Some of Lutron's HomeKit-enabled Serena shades can really block a lot of light.
Photo: Lutron

Whether you’re looking to redesign your space with a fresh look or you just want to block out more light on a sunny morning, Lutron’s updates to its smart shades and blinds might help do the trick.

Lutron rolled out its HomeKit-enabled Serena Smart Architectural Honeycomb Shades on Monday with more than 40 fabric choices and some new refinements to block more light.

Avoid costly water damage with Eve’s new HomeKit-enabled sensor

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Now with Thread support, Eve Water Guard sends leak alerts to the Home app.
Now with Thread support, Eve Water Guard sends leak alerts to the Home app.
Photo: Eve Systems

If you’ve ever suffered major water damage from a leak, you probably wish you could’ve found the problem before it was too late. Now you can — if you have the right smart home automation.

The second generation of the Bluetooth-enabled Eve Water Guard adds Thread networking technology that works with HomeKit. That lets it automatically join your Thread network and provide water leak notifications in Apple’s Home app before the damage is done.

Make your house a little smarter with updated Home Widget for HomeKit

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Home Widget for HomeKit updates just made your house a little smarter.
Home Widget for HomeKit updates just made your house a little smarter.
Photo: Home Widget for HomeKit

If you’d like to improve your experience using HomeKit-enabled accessories on iOS, it might be time to try Home Widget for HomeKit. It already provides quick access to the Home app from your Home Screen, and it got a refresh on Wednesday, adding sensor support, different panel sizes and more.

Apple Home Services chief leaves after less than 3 years on the job

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Apple Home Services chief Sam Jadallah left his post after less than three years.
Apple Home Services chief Sam Jadallah left his post after less than three years.
Photo: Apple

Apple hired Sam Jadallah in February 2019 to lead its smart home initiatives as head of the Home Services department. Last week, he posted word of his departure on LinkedIn.

Neither Jadallah nor Apple has given a reason for the departure. After two years and nine months on the job, Jadallah wrote:

That’s a wrap with Apple. I’m so grateful for the friendships that will endure and the opportunity to shape and create new capabilities for people and homes around the world. As a corporate exec, investor and entrepreneur, it was a treat to be an entrepreneur within Apple and to create products at scale.

Manage your smart home with Aqara’s affordable Hub E1 for HomeKit

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The Aqara E1 Hub is an inexpensive controller for your smart home.
The Aqara E1 Hub is an inexpensive controller for your smart home.
Photo: Aqara

Aqara’s affordable new USB-powered controller, the Smart Hub E1, makes it easy to control devices and sensors through Apple’s HomeKit and other smart-home systems. The company’s Zigbee-based devices, such as smart sensors, connect to the cloud through a central smart hub.

Because Aqara bridges all its devices to HomeKit, you can mix and match automations using different vendors. What’s more, you can power the Aqara Smart Hub E1 with any USB port you have, whether it’s a wall plug or a powered USB port on a console, computer or smart TV.

Ecobee SmartThermostat is first third-party hardware to get Siri support

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The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the first of many third-party devices to get Siri voice support.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the first of many third-party devices to get Siri voice support.
Photo: Ecobee

As announced at Apple’s WWDC conference earlier this year, Siri voice support has come to the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control — the first hardware not made by Apple to get it, with many others to follow. Ecobee said a new software update bringing the change rolls out over the coming weeks.

Enter the world of smart homes for just $11 with this smart outlet

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Turn your house into a smart home with this plug-and-go USB outlet
Turn your house into a smart home with this plug-and-go electrical outlet with dual USB ports.
Photo: Switchmate

We’re always excited to hear about the latest smart home tech that can improve our lives and just make our homes cooler. But when we shop around for integrated smart home devices, we can’t help but feel an empty pang in our bank accounts once we realize how much a full smart home outfitting will cost.

The secret is finding simple tech that can make your existing devices a little smarter. 

Updates to Controller for HomeKit app enhance your home automation

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Controller for HomeKit 5.4 lets you back up your database, store codes and more.
Controller for HomeKit 5.4 lets you back up your database, store codes and more.
Photo: Controller for HomeKit

The third-party Controller for HomeKit app’s new version 5.4 update adds something users have wanted for a while. It’s a full backup and restore process that includes the HomeKit codes identifying the devices and accessories you include in your home automation.

European Commission worries Apple could be future smart home ‘gatekeeper’

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Siri on HomePod mini
Siri is taking over our lives.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Smart home technology isn’t a massive focus of Apple’s. But the European Commission is nonetheless concerned that Apple could be one of the companies potentially able to engage in anticompetitive behavior in this area due to its outsized influence on the tech industry.

In preliminary investigation results published Wednesday, the EC raises concerns about the potential of “gatekeepers emerging” in this sector. The inquiry into Internet of Things (IoT) devices was launched in July 2020. It’s based on feedback from more than 200 different companies. Along with Apple, Amazon and Google are both mentioned as big players.

Shortcutify integrates Spotify, Google Maps, Todoist and more into Shortcuts

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Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Shortcutify is a free iOS app that lets you use web-based services in your Shortcuts. For instance, it can connect with Spotify, Todoist, AirTable and more, and provides an easy bridge between these services’ complicated APIs and the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.

If you use any of the supported services, you’re going to totally love Shortcutify. If not? More app integrations are planned for the future.

From backup batteries to USB hubs, 4 ways to upgrade your charging game [Deals]

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power charging roundup 02/20/20
We've rounded up some of the best deals on the most useful chargers in the Cult of Mac Store.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Our digital lives revolve around having enough power, so we rounded up some of the best deals on charging gear for your shopping convenience. These juicy deals range from high-capacity backup batteries and a six-port USB charging hub, to a voice-controlled outlet and a car charger with four USB ports.

Even better, all of these charging accessories are discounted by more than half.

Apple joins rivals to create open standard for smart home devices

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Abode Iota is a security system by itself
Building your smart home is about to get a whole lot easier.
Photo: Abode

Apple is teaming up with Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance to create a new open and royalty-free standard for smart home devices.

Project “Connected Home over IP” aims to increase compatibility among smart home gadgets and make development easier for device manufacturers. It should also simplify smart technology for consumers.

These alternatives to Ring’s smart video doorbell won’t break the bank [Deals]

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Remo Doorbell
Make home security easy with one of Remo's user-friendly doorbells.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

The holidays are in full swing, and as many of us gear up to travel and see loved ones, burglars are getting ready to break into homes while their owners are away. So if you haven’t already taken the necessary steps to protect your living space, now’s the time to do it. These RemoBell® doorbell cameras give you an extra pair of eyes on your pad while you’re away, and they’re all on sale.

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.

Illuminate your life with LED smart bulbs [Deals]

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iHaper Smart Bulbs
Upgrade your home or office with customizable smart bulbs.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Lightbulbs are the symbol of invention and good ideas, but it’s not until the last few years that they’ve changed in a fundamental way. The LED bulbs are energy efficient, and full of possibility for customization. So if you’re looking to make your house or office smarter, these bulbs from iHaper are a great way to go.

Manage your own microclimate with an all-in-one A/C and humidifier [Deals]

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EvaSmart2
This futuristic, portable A/C uses evaporative principles to efficiently cool and clean the air.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Hanging an air conditioner half-way out the window is an effective, if noisy way to keep a room cool. But it’s also a technology that goes all the way back to 1902. This is the future after all, so now the air conditioner gets the smart home treatment.

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.

Even surge protectors are getting smart [Deals]

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Gain complete control of your power usage with this WiFi-enabled smart surge protector.
Gain complete control of your power usage with this WiFi-enabled smart surge protector.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Just a couple years ago, few imagined owning a HomePod or Echo, but now we’re shouting to one from the kitchen asking for recipes. Everything’s going smart these days, from refrigerators to light bulbs and everything between. So don’t be surprised if soon you find yourself plugging in a smart surge protector.

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.

Ikea expanding its HomeKit accessory lineup with smart plug

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Ikea smart home appliances
Ikea's smart home accessories lineup may be expanding
Photo: Ikea

Ikea, the Swedish-based “affordable” home furnishing company, is looking to expand its lineup of Trådfri smart home accessories to include an affordable smart switch. The report, which was first published on reddit and reported by Swedish tech site Teknikveckan, shows a pair of smart plug accessories that would allow your to control “dumb” devices with your smartphone or connected speaker.