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. 

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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

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.