By default, all Echo smart speakers include a feature called Alexa Guard, which can alert you to the sound of broken glass or smoke alarms. But the free Alexa Guard feels quite small now that Amazon is rolling out Alexa Guard Plus, a premium security service that gives you intruder alerts, hands-free access to emergency services, and barking sounds to scare off burglars.
Delivery drivers touch our doorbells every day, but we rarely (if ever) take the time to clean the buggers. And while CDC guidelines state that COVID-19 spread through contaminated surfaces is “uncommon,” picking up the virus from a doorbell is within the realm of possibility. Alarm.com aims to remedy the problem with its Touchless Video Doorbell, which chimes when a visitor enters its piercing gaze.
Android things are dying. Wait, that’s not news, with more than a billion devices on the market, at least a few of them are going to—what’s that? Oh, excuse me, I read my notes wrong. Android Things, a Google-developed operating system for smarthome gadgets and other IOT devices, is dying. Sorry for the confusion.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or Kwanza. Or winter general. And if you’re like me and already put up the decorations, then you’ll be glad to hear that Nest Hello doorbells are in on the fun and added new chimes to go with the season. Best of all, they’re free!
Looking to ramp up your smart home security rig this holiday season? As part of a Cyber Monday sale, Amazon currently has the Wyze Cam v2 (in one and two packs) and the Wyze’s Pan Cam on discount, ranging from $20 up to $40.
Old-fashioned outlet timers allow you to run outdoor lights, pool filtration system, and Christmas decorations on a schedule. But why stick with old-fashioned? New outdoor smart plugs allow you to control lights and other outdoor electronics through voice commands, an app, or a complex weekly schedule.
Talking to a smart assistant feels unnatural, especially when simple tasks require multiple commands. But a new Alexa update allows the smart assistant to “infer” what skills you need to use based on the context of your requests. Amazon says the new feature should make Alexa feel more conversational and reduce the time it takes to use skills.
Chromecast and Nest gadgets are cheap and ubiquitous ways to expand your home network. But the positive reviews of the surprisingly hi-fi Nest Audio may have spurred Google to spy even more integration, this time as an ad-hoc home theater. According to The Wall Street Journal, a Google representative says that Nest Audio speakers will work with more conventional setups.
Roku has been branching out as of late: in addition to reliable sales of streaming gadgets and partnerships with TV makers, it’s been selling sound bars and wireless speakers. The next step appears to be smarthome integration. In addition to some basic tools for Google Assistant and Alexa, Roku is expanding into the Apple ecosystem with its latest software updates.
I was extremely excited when Lenovo first showed off the Smart Clock Essential. As a simpler, cheaper version of the Smart Clock, one of our favorite smart home gadgets, it seemed like an easy winner. Alas, that’s not the case: a combination of poor user interface choices and flaky, undependable software makes the Smart Clock Essential a dud at best.