Posts Tagged ‘Home’

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So, iOS10 has finally dropped, it has bricked some iPhones but the majority have got away unscathed. We are still trying to decide what we think, but here are the changes this shiny new firmware will bring you;

iMessage – This is probably the biggest update in iOS10 with the ability to be able to draw messages with your finger and send the animation to someone else. You’ll be able to use rich links in Messages. Share a link and, as it would in Slack or Twitter, artwork and a precis of the article may be pulled in, so your friends can get an idea of what they are about to click on.

Bad news for the emoji haters as iMessage will now add emojis into predictive text giving you the option to swap full words for pictures. The death of the English language is nigh.

It has also been opened up to third party developers, meaning that there will soon be apps in the messaging service that can be used to order food, shop, book tickets and send people money within a chat. We are loving the iMessage Super Mario App.

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Voicemail Transcription – iOS is apparently going to put your voicemail into text so that you can glance at it without having to listen to it. It will be interesting to see how accurate this is.

Home App (HomeKit) – Finally the launch of the hotly anticipated HomeKit. Those of you with automated homes will be able to link most devices under one app which has always been an annoying thing with automation. HomeKit will allow you to quickly dim lights, tell Siri to turn up the heating and have access from the lock screen to do all of these. We are especially looking forward to seeing how this feature handles scenes which will allow at a click of a button or a few words to Siri and your room will be ready for movie night with a raft of set processes starting ie lights going off, Apple TV turning on and blinds closing.

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News – Redesigned and now looking simpler, the News app is the go-to for any news. Subscriptions have now been allowed so we assume Newstand will soon disappear. There is also a ‘Breaking news’ notifications from the app. You can toggle the feature from settings and even custom-tune the publications you wish to see pushed to your device.

Photos – Apple says it will use deep learning techniques to analyse faces, places and objects. The app can now draw together photos and videos that are linked by place, people and time and then automatically create reels and trip customisable short clips which Apple is calling ‘Memories’.

Siri – We have seen a deeper involvement with Siri in iOS10 with HomeKit making full use of voice control. But more interestingly it has been opened up to third party developers meaning that soon you will be able to ask Siri to check other apps other than Apple ones. A great step forward.

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Feature Changes; 

•’Slide to Unlock’ has been removed, and instead you’ll see ‘Press home to open’. This will prompt you to enter your pass-code or will unlock the phone if you use Touch ID.

• Deleting Stock apps has been a real issue for some people and now you can delete as you wish. Enjoy the power!

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• Apple will now keep track of where you park your car so you don’t have to bother. Apple maps will detect when you park and automatically drop a pin so that you can find it later.

• Bedtime is the new clock feature which you tell what time you want to get to bed on a given night of the week, and your phone will let you know when the clock strikes that hour to remind you to get some shut eye.

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• The update will bring with it more than a hundred new and redesigned emoji characters with multicultural and gender types.

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Continuing in the world of home automation products, today we are reviewing the D-Link ‘mydlink Home’ Smart Plug.

Introduction

What can be said about such devices? They are an evolutionary step forward from those old timer sockets used to fool burglars into thinking you’re at home by turning a lamp on a preset times.

In addition to being able to set a schedule, with these new breed of products you can also remotely turn on and off any mains-powered device from your phone or tablet manually, from anywhere in the world.

First impressions

The unit comes in a neatly presented box containing just the unit itself, instructions and quick install card.

The smart plug is a actually very nice looking. Long gone are the days of companies doing the bare minimum in design for devices that will, in all likelihood, be hidden behind a cabinet.


Setup
This really couldn’t be simpler. The unit has a WPS button on the side which, when pressed immediately after pressing the WPS button on your home router, connects directly to your home Wi-Fi network. Most modern routers have this functionality and it really does make setup a breeze.

Once it’s connected,  it’s just a case of downloading the iOS or Android app to your smartphone or tablet and creating yourself a mydlink account (in-app).

The app will find your device providing you are on the same Wi-Fi network. Then, all that needs to be done is to give it a name and choose an icon for it. After the initial setup, you no longer need to be on the same network to control your Smart Plug.

In my case, I have the Smart Plug controlling my tumble dryer.

See the little power icon below? That’s it. That’s how you remotely turn it on and off. Simple.


There are two reasons I chose a tumble dryer for this review:

1) I wanted to try a high current appliance. Pulling nearly 3KW through the Smart Plug should give it a good run.

2) My 3 year old twins have a terrifying desire to climb into things while the other closes the door. Boxes, cupboards, and yes, the tumble dryer once too. With the dryer under the kitchen unit and the mains socket located behind it, the ability to switch it on and off at the mains is difficult. 

The D-Link Smart Plug provides me with a means of doing just that, easily.

Here it is when ON:

Extras

You can view the current load and temperature of the plug in the device information page:


You can also set rules, such as turning appliances off automatically when a preset consumption limit is breached. Email alerts and push notifications are also supported. As previously mentioned, scheduling is supported for making burglars think twice when you’re away from home by hooking it up to a TV or lamp.

Summary

All in all, it’s an excellent little device that delivers on it’s simple objectives. I have noticed that it’s a little bulky though and so doesn’t play well with other plugs in my 4-way gang lead. 

It handles my tumble dryer with no problem, and like I say, that’s a very high load appliance, so top marks there.

At around £39.99, it may be a little much for some, but with D-Link pushing the range which now includes home cameras and PIRs, it’s well worth a look if you’re looking to automate your home.

TheTechSpy rating: 8.5/10

Fresh in for review today from Satechi is the Bluetooth Button Series.

The series consists of three buttons, the Shutter Button, Media Button and Home Button.

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The Shutter Button, as you might expect, is for taking remote photos on your smartphone and is ideal for tripods.

The Media Button allows you to control your smartphone video or music apps.

The Home Button is simply a clone of your home button.

All three of the devices have a solid industrial design with what looks like brushed aluminium edging.

So, let’s get on with the review…

Shutter Button

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This will probably be one of the easiest things I’ll ever have to review. By pressing the button when you have the camera app open on your phone, it will take a photo for you. Simple and effective. It’s also responsive enough for you to hold the button down and take burst photos.

Media Button

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The Media Button is what had me most excited. It’s a simple enough device, using the Bluetooth AVRCP protocol to access Play/Pause, Previous / Next track and Volume Up / Down.

Many devices have the same AVRCP functionality as the Satechi but nearly always as part of an audio receiver set. What I mean by this is that audio is redirected over the Bluetooth A2DP protocol away from the source device, usually to a headphone socket on the media remote.

Take a look at the Sony SBH-20 which at first glance looks like a competing product. It has the same media controls but the unit is both an AVRCP and A2DP device using what’s called a ‘Bluetooth Audio Sink’. This means that all audio is redirected to the headphone jack on the SBH-20 the moment you press a button.

The thing that gets me about the Satechi Media Button is that this kind of device is so rare and yet it’s perfect for parties. Let me explain:

Let’s say you have a few friends over for a BBQ.

You have an iPhone connected to your home stereo via a headphone > auxiliary connection, a couple of the speakers placed near the windows and you’re playing your favourite music through Spotify.

You’ve started playing a playlist and left your phone in the house with the stereo out of harms way.

You could take the Media Button out into the garden with all the food and drink and just leave it on the table. Skip a track? No problem. Turn the volume up? You got it.

You cannot do this with something like the SBH-20 or any other AVRCP device I’ve found online for that matter. The second you press a button, the music from the stereo would stop, re-routed to a device that nobody is listening to.

It really is as far as I can tell, a unique product.

The price of it also means it’s not the end of the world if your mate knocks his beer over it. Until all phones are waterproof, I’d much prefer this scenario.

Home Button

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The Home Button is simply a remote ‘Home’ button. On my test iPhone 6 Plus, it does exactly what the normal home button does – a short press exits applications, a long press activates Siri. Double tapping takes you to the app switcher.

The only use I’ve found for this is in my car. I mounted it to my dashboard using the supplied adhesive pad and can now dictate to Siri and keep my eyes on the road. For this one purpose, I’ve found it invaluable.

The Shutter Button and Home Button are normally available for £19.99 at Amazon, with the Media Button priced at £23.99.

However, Satechi have provided Amazon discount codes of 15% for readers of TheTechSpy, valid until 24/07/2016.

Media Button: 88EWX7F8 
Shutter Button : X9E6I4CR
Home Button : Z7HQ2TVZ

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Home automation is becoming a bigger and bigger topic every week as “The Internet of Things” grow. With more and more devices coming to market, thanks to the likes of not only the tech giants out there but crowd funding like Kickstarter, we can now enjoy the control of things like light switches, thermostats, power sockets and even our media centres.

Now don’t get me wrong, it has been a childhood dream of mine to be able to control things in the house through Home Automation and even going that step further when the house ends up doing it for you as it knows you are home….but with all these new devices one thing stands out that could prematurely end this whole revolution before it has started.

Every one of these new devices, comes with an app. If I am in my house and I want to turn a light on, I can unlock my iPhone, click on the app and simply choose the light I want on. Cool? Yes…but surely it was easier to just get up and switch that light on? I then decide it is getting a bit cold, so I click on another app and this allows me to turn the heating on in my house providing me with a comfortable environment. It is all good, but technology here has made my life harder, which is not the point of it at all.

Smartthings, crowd funded via Kickstarter, were one of the first to try and put this right. The idea was to put all of the devices under one app, so they could all talk to each other and of course you only had to go into one app to control them all. This idea was the step forward “The Internet of Things” needed, allowing each device, even if it was from a different manufacturer to work with each other, so if a sensor was triggered as you arrived home, you could have it switch on the heating and turn the entrance lights on.

My only issue with this is that you still need to open an app. The guys over at Athom have designed the Homey, which is a spherical shape device that sits in your house and you can talk to. Now of course it has the app, as this makes it easy to set up and of course collaborate the tech, but when you walk into your kitchen you can ask the device to turn lights on Siri-style, or turn the tv on to a certain channel….this is home automation!

App

Homey talks to pretty much all devices and here are a few things it can do;

“Homey combines your devices and the internet, allowing for smart scenarios:

When you get home, your lights fade on, your thermostat is already set to a comfortable level and your favorite music is streamed to your receiver.

When you need to wake up, the curtains or blinds are opening, your morning tune is playing on your stereo while the weather for today and your e-mails are being read to you. The smell of fresh and automatically made coffee gets you out of bed.

When you’re in the supermarket, you decide it’s going to be pizza tonight. You tell the Homey app to pre-heat your oven by switching it on. If you have a smart fridge, your grocery shopping list is sent to you.

When you want to watch a movie, the blinds close, your lights dim, your music fades out, the TV is set to the correct channel and your media center plays the movie.”

Homey

The list of products the device communicates with at the moment is enough for us to take notice as normally with these types of ideas they are very thin on the ground. But I am sure you will agree, Homey is everyone’s Homey;

LightwaveRF
Airplay
Sonos
Nest
Hue
Spotify
Logitech
Bose
Philips
Samsung
Gmail

We love this device and even at $229 with an arrival time of June 2015, we still think this is well worth the investment. We just hope that no one else beats them to the market first, especially as Apple tonight announced its home automation project HomeKit.

So, yesterday we showed you the wonders of Piena, which promises to solve an issue that every parent has to endure, simplifying the sterilisation process for us all.

Call us the Mary Poppins of the Tech world, as we have something else for you on the horizon which we think again parents will love and in the end need!

One of the biggest fears in life is losing a child, which is so easy in modern day malls and super markets, but the guys over at BeLuvv think they have solved the problem. The idea was born after the founder himself lost his child in a supermarket and had to come up with an idea to keep track of him in today’s modern connected world.

Guardian, a small device which can be clipped to your child’s clothing or put into a watch type strap is used to communicate with your smartphone to keep track of your child’s whereabouts. When your child is in Bluetooth range, Guardian keeps track of them and notifies you if he or she approaches the tracking boundary which can be amended by the parent at any time from the app.

The device comes with an app to help you track your child in real time and it also creates a network of parents that grows stronger as more people join the system. Since every copy of the Guardian app can connect to central servers, when the child leaves the phone’s range, the cloud-based system can trigger an emergency network search, and you’ll get an alert with your child’s location if he or she is close to another person with the Guardian app.

Of course, this has to see a massive take up for it to become viable on a local level for the network search features, but as an out-of-range assistant will work extremely well. I cannot see any parent saying no to this, the wearable device can easily be worn by a child and at a pre-order price of $24.95 you cannot afford to not take a look.

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