WeMo Bridge adds HomeKit & Siri support to your Belkin smart home accessories

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Belkin’s popular line of WeMo smart home products was recently brought into the HomeKit fold with the release of the new Smart Bridge, a simple device that lets you control your existing WeMo devices via the Home app and Siri.
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Best HomePod accessories: stands, mounts, coasters, cases, HomeKit devices, and more

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Now that HomePod has been available for a little while, there are a good amount of third-parties who are shipping their accessories and products to enhance, protect, and further your HomePod experience. Let’s take a look at some the best HomePod accessories.

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9to5Mac

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iOS 11.3 with battery improvements, ARKit 1.5, HomeKit authentication now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

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The new iOS 11.3 release for all remaining iOS devices has shipped, featuring new battery health information for iPhones, ARKit 1.5, a new Health Records feature, new Animoji characters, and more.
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HomeKit Weekly: Using Automation to put sensors to work

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HomeKit Weekly is a new series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework. 

In our third installment of HomeKit Weekly, we’re going to explore how to make HomeKit-enabled sensors more useful through automation in Apple’s Home app. 9to5Mac has also teamed up with FIBARO to offer a HomeKit bundle giveaway, so this week we’ll highlight ways to put those products to work.

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Review: Netgear’s Arlo Baby camera with Apple HomeKit

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It doesn’t come cheap, and its newfound HomeKit support is actually the least interesting thing about it, but the Arlo Baby is a quality baby monitor that has a life beyond the nursery.
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Win a HomeKit bundle from FIBARO & 9to5Mac [Giveaway]

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To celebrate the launch of our new Homekit Weekly series, we’ve teamed up with FIBARO to give away a HomeKit bundle to turn your house into a Siri-controlled smart home. HomeKit Weekly is a new series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.

Our giveaway bundle includes The Button, the company’s new HomeKit-compatible micro-sized hardware switch that goes up for preorder in the US this week. Check out FIBARO’s newest HomeKit line up and the four products we’ve packaged (a total value of $ 250+ USD) to give you the ultimate HomeKit experience below:

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Hands-on: Fibaro’s ‘The Button’ HomeKit multi-controller, now available to order

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After unveiling plans to offer a HomeKit version of The Button at CES in January, Fibaro is now shipping its multi-controller for Apple’s smart home platform. The Button is available to order for $ 49.99, and we’ve tried it out to see how it works with HomeKit.

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How IBM’s Watson could bring more smart home intelligence to Siri and Homekit

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Earlier this week, IBM announced a new partnership with Apple, explaining how it would be adding IBM Watson Services to Core ML. Since Watson has already proved its prowess on Jeopardy, most folks know what Watson is. Core ML is probably less familiar: It’s Apple’s machine learning framework for the company’s software platforms. Specifically, Apple says that Core ML can be used with Siri, Camera and QuickType.

How Watson works

That reference of Siri jumps out at me. Granted, the IBM-Apple news is really geared towards building apps for enterprises — Apple and IBM have been partners in this area for a few years now — but I’m thinking ahead on other areas where Watson could could benefit Apple products. And Siri surely needs help, especially inside the Apple HomePod.

How so? Well, let’s step back a minute and see how Watson works today.

This video provides a fantastic explanation but if I had to summarize it, here’s how I see it. Watson ingests large amounts of unstructured data, most of which today is written information. After analyzing that data for patterns, Watson attempts to structure it to understand both the content and intent of any actions taken upon that data.

This is far more advanced than simply scanning a never-ending stream of question-answer pairs because not every question is asked the same way and that can change the meaning of the question or analysis. There’s certainly more to Watson than my limited interpretation, but these are the parts most relevant to my thought process.

Data in the smart home: Context and intent

So what if the unstructured data was human behavior in a smart home? Theoretically, Watson could determine both the context and the intent of users of that home and through pattern recognition, possibly anticipate the needs of people in the home from such insights. This is the autonomous level of smart homes that I alluded to last week when discussing routines and automations.

To be more specific, Watson could help make sense of all of the actions we take in, around and near our homes: When we generally wake, leave for work, what we cook and when, who comes and goes, when do we sit down to relax and what do we typically do during that time. For a home to be semi-autonomous, certain patterns need to be recognized from these actions. And those patterns can be combined with already available verification data such as GPS location, network traffic from Netflix or music from an online streaming service.

At that point, a digital assistant such as Siri can begin to anticipate things and make insightful suggestions without any programming or user configuration; two items used today for routines and automation.

For example, I typically retire to the home office at some point after dinner but I don’t do work. Instead, I turn a light on to read a book or watch TV and I may play some low-volume music. Now imagine if Siri knew that, thanks to Watson.

I might head upstairs to the office and find the light already turned on to my preferred brightness. Siri could proactively ask if I wanted to catch up on the show I most recently watched on Netflix. Perhaps I respond and say, “No thanks, I’m going to read for a while.” Maybe Siri prompts to see if I want music that’s tailored for light background noise while I read. You see where I’m going.

Google is doing this with Docs already

If it sounds impossible that such patterns could be detected or useful, think about Google Drive. Using its own machine learning, Google knows when I typically return to specific documents and it highlights them at the appropriate time. Think context and intent here.

A perfect example is when Stacey and I collaborate on the IoT Podcast show notes. The day and time of that effort varies but I’d say that 90% of the time, I open up Google Drive to add topics for the next show, the spreadsheet appears above my Drive contents in the “Quick Access” area. In fact, under the document, it says, “You usually open this Sheet around this time.” It’s a simple example of pattern recognition, but it’s also a powerful one.

If Google can do this with Drive documents and Watson can do this with unstructured, written data, it’s just a matter of doing the same thing with a different type of data: Objects and their actions in the smart home. There’s no guarantee that Apple is working with IBM on this to make Siri a smarter digital assistant in the home, but if they’re not, I think they should be.

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These Smart Plugs Work With Siri and Apple’s HomeKit

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These are the smart plugs that work with Siri and Apple’s HomeKit!

If you’re new to home automation, a smart plug can be a good first step — a toe in the water, if you will — in building out your connected home. If you’ve gone all-in on HomeKit-enabled accessories, this list can help you track down the perfect HomeKit-enabled plug for your smart home.

ConnectSense Smart Outlet

The ConnectSense Smart Outlet is a Wi-Fi-connected outlet that features two independently controlled plugs. Along with two physical buttons on the side of the device, you can control the ConnectSense outlet using Siri, the Home app for iOS, and the free ConnectSense app.

Here’s what you need to know about the ConnectSense Smart Outlet:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) Two
Voice control Siri
Energy monitoring No
Extras USB Charging Port
Price $ 59.95

See at ConnectSense

Elgato Eve Energy

The Elgato Eve Energy is a Bluetooth-connected smart plug. With in-depth energy monitoring stats, the Elgato Eve Energy can help you keep a lid on your utility bills. Thanks to the device’s Bluetooth LE connection, you won’t need to struggle with a Wi-Fi setup process or crowd your network with another device — the Eve Energy communicates directly with your phone or through an Apple TV or iPad via Apple HomeKit.

Here’s what you need to know about the Elgato Eve Energy:

Category Features
Connectivity Bluetooth
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras None
Price $ 49.95

See at Amazon

iDevices

iDevices Switch

The iDevices Switch is hands-down my favorite Wi-Fi connected, HomeKit-enabled plug. The unique design, which shifts the plug to the side of the device, keeps the smart plug from unappealingly jutting out of the wall and the multicolor LED light strip serves as an excellent night light. The iDevices Switch also features a physical button for controlling whatever you choose to plug in.

Here’s what you need to know about the iDevices Switch:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras LED light strip
Price $ 28.55

See at Amazon

iDevices Outdoor Switch

The iDevices Outdoor Switch is a dual-outlet switch that’s meant to be used outdoors. It features a rugged, rain-tight design, so you can be sure it’ll work in the winter just as well as it works in the summer, spring, and fall. Perfect for outdoor lighting during the holidays, you can turn off ol’ Frosty the Snowman at the end of the night without ever having to set foot outside.

Here’s what you need to know about the iDevices Outdoor Switch:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) Two
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras Rain-tight design
Price $ 71.85

See at Amazon

iDevices Wall Outlet

The iDevices Wall Outlet is an in-wall smart home product that you can use to replace any standard outlet in your home. Instead of having to augment your current setup with external plugs and switches, you can get two independently controlled outlets that actually look like they belong. It’s worth noting, too, that each outlet features a physical button for turning on and off whatever you’ve decided to plug in.

Here’s what you need to know about the iDevices Wall Outlet:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) Two
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras LED night light
Price $ 99.95

See at Amazon

iHome

iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP6

Save for the design, the iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP6 is exactly like the iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP5. It’s a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug with no frills.

Here’s what you need to know about the iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP6:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant
Energy monitoring No
Extras None
Price $ 35.00

See at Amazon

iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP8

The iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP8 is just like its iSP5 and iSP6 siblings, except for one extra feature: The iSP8 plug comes with a pre-paired remote control that you can use to operate the plug while you’re in your home. If you’d rather not use your voice or fumble with an app, you can use the small remote included in the box!

Here’s what you need to know about the iHome Connect Smart Plug iSP8:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras remote control
Price $ 47.95

See at Amazon

Koogeek

Koogeek Smart Plug P1

The Koogeek Smart Plug P1 is a simple, Wi-Fi connected smart plug. The device features one standard plug, a physical on/off button above the outlet, and it can be controlled using Siri, the free Koogeek app, and the Home app for iOS.

Here’s what you need to know about the Koogeek Smart Plug P1:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras None
Price $ 29.99

See at Amazon

Koogeek Smart Plug P2

The second iteration of the Koogeek Smart Plug, the P2, is a slight upgrade on the P1. Along with a new slim form factor, the P2 features a built-in night light. Both the night light and the plug itself can be controlled using the free Koogeek app, the Home app for iOS, and Siri.

Here’s what you need to know about the Koogeek Smart Plug P2:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri, Amazon Alexa
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras Night light
Price $ 34.99

See at Amazon

Koogeek Smart Outlet

The upcoming Koogeek Smart Outlet is a three-outlet, three-USB Wi-Fi connected smart power strip. You can use it to power up to three electronic devices (and control each separately) and charge up to three USB-powered devices. The USB charging ports are smart, meaning they can push more power to larger devices and less power to smaller devices. Koogeek has also packed in a ton of safety features, including short circuit protection, over current protection, over voltage protection, over heating protection, surge protection, and over load protection. It’s got a 5-foot cord and a built-in circuit breaker.

Here’s what you need to know about the Koogeek Smart Outlet:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) Three
Voice control Siri
Energy monitoring Yes
Extras USB charging ports
Price $ 63.99

See at Amazon

PureGear PureSwitch

The PureGear PureSwitch is a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug that features a USB charging port. While you’re using the device to remotely control your lighting, fans, etc., you can also use it to charge your USB-powered devices! The plug, which works with Siri and the Home app for iOS, can also be controlled using the free PureGear app for iOS.

Here’s what you need to know about the PureGear PureSwitch:

Category Features
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Outlet(s) One
Voice control Siri
Energy monitoring No
Extras USB charging port
Price $ 49.95

See at Amazon

Thoughts?

Any smart plugs on the list catch your eye? Already using one (or many)? Give us a shout in the comments! We’re curious to hear about your experience.

Updated March 2018: This article was updated with new HomeKit-enabled plugs and switches as well as updated pricing information.

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Podcast: Lennar’s smart home and why it dumped Apple HomeKit

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The Nest Hello doorbell is now available, and sells for $ 239.

Like the rest of the tech media, Kevin and I kick off the show with a discussion about data collection and privacy in light of the allegations against Cambridge Analytica. We also talk about smart home lock in, Alexa’s new “brief” mode, shopping on Google Home and my IoT Spring Clean. IBM’s new crypto chip and Watson Assistant made the show as well as several industrial IoT news bits such as Foghorn’s industrial IoT integration with Google’s cloud and a new hardware platform for IIoT from Resin.io. We also answer a listener question about IoT for new parents. Plus I spoke with David Kaiserman, president with Lennar Ventures, the investment arm of Lennar Homebuilders. Kaiserman walked me through a Lennar home outfitted with a bunch of smarts, and shared his thoughts on what matters to buyers and the gear inside. He also sheds light on Amazon’s Alexa-focused geek squad and explains why Lennar backed out of its plans for a Apple HomeKit home and banked on Alexa instead. Enjoy.

 

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