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.

Google smart displays will takeover homes in July

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Google smart displays
Google Assistant can bring show and tell with smart displays, like this one from Lenovo.
Photo: Lenovo

Smart speakers are about to get upstaged at home by an arguably smarter device – smart displays.

During its I/O developers conference Tuesday, Google announced smart displays with Google Assistant would hit store shelves in July, adding yet another screen to vie for our already fractured attention.

Bizarre HomeKit remote looks like a D&D die

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Nanoleaf HomeKit Remote
Can you find the HomeKit remote on this table?
Photo: Nanoleaf

CES 2018 bug The device is called The Remote, but those familiar with the company behind it probably could have predicted it would not look anything like a remote control.

Nanoleaf, creators of smart light-panels that give any room a futuristic glow, unveiled a 12-side geometric table-top object at CES Tuesday that will work with Apple HomeKit-enabled smart home devices.