Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Although Apple doesn’t have an official presence at CES, it still made news there, with companies announcing partnerships for iTunes, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The Silicon Valley firm is rumored to be rolling out a streaming video service in early 2019, with content from Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg. At CES 2019, Apple’s integration with third party platforms included TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. The move into content and services comes as Apple contends with lower iPhone sales. Continue reading Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

If CES is any indication, 2019 may be the year that voice assistants become more integrated into our daily lives. Amazon and Google went head-to-head in Las Vegas last week with a flood of partnerships touting smart home and CE devices that now support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Among the products featuring voice support included LG’s much-hyped rollable OLED TV; Panasonic’s new 4K OLED TV; Samsung’s 2019 TV lineup; Vuzix Blade AR glasses; an array of speakers, soundbars and headphones; new smart displays from Lenovo, Archos and KitchenAid; and a collection of home security devices, kitchen and bathroom appliances — even toilets. Continue reading CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

At CES 2019, in what some are saying has become an annual battle in recent years, Amazon and Google went mano a mano, with the former’s Alexa voice assistant in one corner, and the latter’s Google Assistant in the other. Since the debut of the voice assistants, this sector’s importance has soared, and both companies have been jockeying for dominance. Amazon stated that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, while Google said its Assistant will be built into one billion devices by the end of the month. Continue reading Judging Current State of Amazon and Google Rivalry at CES

LG OLED TV With Rollable Screen Impresses CES Attendees

While MicroLED, 8K QLED and some impressively large quality displays have been generating the most TV buzz this week in Las Vegas, LG has been showcasing a concept that’s taken different forms at CES in the past, but not with this level of sophistication. Rather than introducing a foldable or bendable screen that retracts, LG debuted a 65-inch OLED TV with rollable screen at this year’s confab. The LG Signature OLED TV R “rolls” into a base to the point that the flexible screen is no longer visible. The 3-millimeter OLED panel then rises from its base for easy viewing. Users can also play music through the base since it’s a 100W Dolby Atmos soundbar. Continue reading LG OLED TV With Rollable Screen Impresses CES Attendees

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google may not all have a big booth with their name on it at this year’s CES, but be sure that their presence will still be felt. For example, we expect dozens of new devices that are “Alexa-enabled” to appear on the show floor. Ever since Amazon Web Services opened up Alexa to the developer community in 2015, voice-enabled devices have really taken off and Alexa has been endowed with hundreds of new “skills.” At CES, we expect to see a wide range of voice-enabled smart speakers and IoT devices, “Made for HomeKit” sensors and devices, more private and hybrid cloud products, and a continued push into VR, AI and live streaming. Continue reading Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

In an effort to help consumers better understand the benefits of Apple HomeKit products, Apple has installed interactive smart-home displays in 46 of its retail locations worldwide. Apple customers can use the Home mobile app via an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad to perform functions such as turning on Philips Hue light bulbs and controlling Hunter ceiling fan speeds. Apple’s Home app allows users to control HomeKit-enabled smart devices from a single location (or even collectively with a single command) by tapping the screen or interacting with virtual assistant Siri. Continue reading Apple Installs Interactive HomeKit Experiences in 46 Stores

Apple Siri-Run Speaker to Rival Amazon Echo, Google Home

Apple has begun manufacturing of a Siri-controlled smart speaker, say sources, which could debut as early as its June developer conference. The same sources say the new device, which will ship later in the year, will offer virtual surround sound and integration with Apple’s other products, distinguishing it from Amazon, with its Echo, and Alphabet, with its Google Home. Such a device would not only help Apple compete with those rivals, but would create a hub to automate lights and appliances with Apple’s HomeKit. Continue reading Apple Siri-Run Speaker to Rival Amazon Echo, Google Home

Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Apple has launched a new website for its HomeKit software and Home App, which are used to control connected appliances and other devices in a user’s house. The site displays the compatible devices from 50 different brands and allows users to group them so that multiple actions can be triggered with a single tap or voice command. Apple has recently faced more competition in the smart home space because of Amazon’s Echo, which can also operate home devices via voice commands. Continue reading Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Android Things: Google Rolls Out IoT Platform for Developers

Google unveiled Android Things yesterday, currently available as a developer preview. The comprehensive IoT platform was designed to help developers build smart devices to work with Android APIs and Google services. According to TechCrunch, the platform “combines Google’s earlier efforts around Brillo with its Android developer tools like Android Studio, the Android SDK, Google Play Services and Google’s cloud computing services.” A future developer preview will include “support for Weave, Google’s IoT communications platform that (together with Brillo) makes up Google’s answer to Apple’s HomeKit.” Continue reading Android Things: Google Rolls Out IoT Platform for Developers

Thington Concierge Helps Users Navigate Their Smart Homes

The smart assistant app Thington just launched, with the aim of making the smart home and its devices less intimidating. Thington’s Concierge is a conversational bot that helps the user set up smart devices in the home and get the maximum benefit from them. The idea, say its founders, is that Thington is a “super smart remote” that will talk users through the confusing process of setting up an Internet of Things-enabled home. Thington is currently compatible with devices from six manufacturers. Continue reading Thington Concierge Helps Users Navigate Their Smart Homes

Apple Plans Release of Siri SDK, New Home Assistant Device

Apple is reportedly prepping an SDK that would provide developers with more access to the company’s digital assistant Siri, while a stationary hub similar to Amazon’s Echo is in the works. We should expect an announcement, or possibly the new device, during next month’s WWDC. Apple is facing new competition in this space, and opening Siri “to all developers would go far to make an adequate virtual assistant into a powerful and convenient one,” suggests TechCrunch. “And, as Apple works at shoehorning itself into households with HomeKit, a versatile voice-activated hub seems a natural addition.” Continue reading Apple Plans Release of Siri SDK, New Home Assistant Device

Apple Announces New Products, Updates from San Francisco

While the first day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference did not include any major surprises, the company unveiled interesting details about its much anticipated music service launching this month, new versions of its OS X and iOS operating systems, and software updates to its car, home and smartwatch products. Apple is replacing its Newsstand app with “News,” and Passbook has become “Wallet.” The company announced new partners for Apple Pay, including Trader Joe’s and JC Penney, and an upcoming compatible reader from Square. Continue reading Apple Announces New Products, Updates from San Francisco

Apple Refutes Delays, Says HomeKit Devices Shipping in June

Apple is refuting a recent report that suggested HomeKit — its home automation software platform — was experiencing problems and could expect delays. This week the company announced that the first HomeKit-enabled devices will ship next month. The company first unveiled HomeKit at last June’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The platform enables Apple devices to control connected appliances in the home, essentially turning iPhones and iPads into a command system for smart thermostats, lights, garage doors, locks, security systems and more. Continue reading Apple Refutes Delays, Says HomeKit Devices Shipping in June

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