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HomePod head-to-head: How Apple’s new smart speaker compares to original

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Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Photo: Apple

Now that the full-size HomePod is finally back, just how different is it from Apple’s original smart speaker? At a glance, you might not think the $299 speaker Apple unveiled Wednesday is that different at all, because the exterior design looks so similar. But compare the new HomePod’s features to the old model, and you’ll find significant changes.

It seems potentially much-improved as a smart home device, but whether it’s a better speaker is questionable.

Aqara previews video doorbell and other new HomeKit gadgets

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With AI onboard, the new Aqara G4 Video Doorbell can recognize people.
With AI onboard, the new Aqara G4 Video Doorbell can recognize people.
Photo: Aqara

Smart-home specialist Aqara said Thursday it will expand its product line in the coming months with a new video doorbell, LED light strips, a sensor with artificial intelligence and a smart door lock that works with Home Key. All of the new devices will work with HomeKit and other smart-home systems.

Rather than showcasing new products at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, however, the company put out a video showing off the four items below as if it were at the show.

Thread-enabled Nano smart blinds work with HomeKit

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Nano Smart Blinds work with HomeKit.
Nano Smart Blinds work with HomeKit.
Photo: SmartWings

If you’re willing to get in on the ground floor of a crowdfunding campaign as an “early bird,” you can now score Thread-enabled smart mini blinds that work with HomeKit for $100 off the retail price.

SmartWings Nano Smart Blinds have surpassed their funding goal on Indiegogo, so they should ship to buyers in January, the company said.

With 190 products certified, Matter smart-home standard looks ahead

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About 190 products are certified for the Matter standard (or soon will be after testing).
About 190 products are certified for the Matter standard (or soon will be after testing).
Photo: CSA

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) showcased companies and products using the newly available Matter home-automation standard at a launch event in Amsterdam Thursday.

The group, which includes Apple, Google and many other companies, emphasized the standard’s building momentum and drew a rough road map of what’s to come.

Home automation gets smarter for Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini owners

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HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

A major Thread networking standard update Tuesday brings the Matter home automation technology standard a step closer for those who already own certain devices. Namely, gear that can act as a border router in the smart home — like Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini.

Thread 1.3.0 lets Thread devices work with any other Thread border router. That’s big because Thread will be Matter’s main wireless protocol, along with Wi-Fi.

Why you can’t trust ‘lifetime guarantees’ on the Internet of Things

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why-you-cant-trust-lifetime-guarantees-on-the-internet-of-things-image-cultofandroidcomwp-contentuploads2016042981086612_84b3902cc2_o-jpg
The looming shutdown of Revolv has some home-automation fans questioning the Internet of Things.
Photo: Andrew Stawarz/Flickr CC

Revolv smart hubs will no longer be supported as of May 15. Even though subscribers have known this was coming since February, there wasn’t a lot of attention until an author’s highly critical piece was published on Medium.

That story has spurred conversations questioning investment in the Internet of Things, or IoT, and prompted Nest to consider compensating users who were early investors in the Revolv hub.

Presence security camera keeps an eye outside your door

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The Presence that promises to deliver peace of mind.
The Presence that promises to deliver peace of mind.
Photo: Netatmo

Cult of Mac CES 2016 full coverage
Consumer electronics company Netatmo has made a camera that is easily overlooked as it keeps a lookout outside your door.

The outdoor surveillance camera Netatmo named Presence uses an algorithm to detect whether something in its view is a person, car or animal. It then immediately sends a notification through a companion iPhone or Android app along with an option to see what the camera recorded.

Wind turbine promises to blow away your utility bills

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A Trinity turbine powering a house and an electric car.
A Trinity turbine powering a house and an electric car.
Photo: Janulus

You’ve spared no expense in creating a smart home. You bought smart lightbulbs, a smart TV and smart appliances. All that’s missing is a device that makes you look smart when the electric bill comes in the mail.

The Agustsson brothers of Iceland may have figured out that part. They are the creators of Trinity, an affordable line of portable wind turbines, some of which can power the entire home.

Reemo smartwatch lets you wave your lights on

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In this demonstration video, a mother gestures to turn off the lights thanks to the Reemo smartwatch she is wearing. Photo: Reemo/YouTube
In this demonstration video, a mother gestures to turn off the lights thanks to the Reemo smartwatch she is wearing. Photo: Reemo/YouTube

This is the year computer power migrates to our wrists. We have the roll-out hype of the Apple Watch to thank for that. But one company wants that power to be flexed through a flick of the wrist.

Reemo is software and a wrist device you probably haven’t heard of. It doesn’t come in gold or send your heartbeat to a loved one.

It is built around the emerging technology of gesture control — users become maestros in their homes and offices. With a range of gestures and arm movements, users can control the volume on televisions and stereos, trigger door looks, drop the temperature of a room and power lighting up or down.