By Cody Lee on Dec 15, 2016
Welcome to the latest edition of iDB’s ongoing Gift Ideas series, where we provide curated roundups of some of our favorite products. Throughout the year we cover and test a number of devices and accessories, so we decided to use that experience to help those searching for the perfect present. Today’s roundup is focused on gift ideas that help make homes smarter. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 19, 2016
Apple is reportedly teaming up with homebuilders to inch its way into the market for Internet-connected home furnishings in an effort to “bring home automation to the mainstream,” according to Greg Joswiak, who is Apple’s Vice President of Product Marketing. Bloomberg quoted Joswiak as saying that “the best place to start is at the beginning, when a house is just being created.” Read More
By Steffen Reich on Oct 19, 2016
Flower Power, an iOS app that promises to help you get the best out of your favorite indoor or outdoor plant, has undergone a major face lift this August. The app, developed by Parrot SA has been around since 2013, but both looks and functions have been overhauled in-depth recently. While the app is and has always been free, it requires a hefty upfront investment for the wireless plant monitor itself to supply the app with critical data. So let’s posit you want your beloved indoor plant to live up to its maximum potential – Should you pounce for it? Read More
By Timothy Reavis on Sep 1, 2016
I’m a huge fan of Philips Hue lights, as the smart technology behind them often proves itself to be an immense convenience. Perhaps I’m better off walking across the room to flip a light switch, but I’m perfectly fine with telling Siri to do it or swiping up Control Center in iOS 10 and tapping a light in the HomeKit pane. Dimming the lights down to a warm glow in the evenings while browsing Twitter with my phone on NightShift is one scenario that, for me, makes Philips Hue an incredible experience.
The underlying issue with smart lightbulbs in general and Philips Hue in particular that has kept many people from fully adopting them is the price. Philips’ colored bulbs come in around $50 apiece, with the Starter Kit providing three bulbs and the connecting hub for $180. At first glance, those seem like fairly hefty prices for lightbulbs, of all things. However, a cheaper option is available for those who love home automation but don’t need the RGB colors of Philips Hue’s white and color ambiance bulbs, as the company is now selling a white ambience-only variant of their Hue line. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 14, 2016
Philips today announced it’s expanded its Hue smart lighting system with a brand new light bulb that focuses on the many shades of white light in order to encourage better sleep cycles, helping you wake up naturally and drift to sleep more peacefully.
The Apple HomeKit-compatible, color-tunable bulb gives you 800 lumens at the color temperature range from 2,200k to 6,500k, imitating the changing daily brightness and color temperature of natural sunlight. Philips also offers a starter kit that includes a pair of white ambiance bulbs, a bridge and a dimmer switch. Read More
By Andrew O'Hara on Feb 23, 2016
Apple’s HomeKit has had a bit of a rocky start. The home automation platform that was meant to tie all of your smart home devices together was plagued by delays from Apple, as well as manufacturers. Devices started to hit the market in the middle of last year, and this year at CES, we saw many new options that are slowly starting to trickle out. Today, we are going to take a look at one of those devices, Eve Energy from Elgato. It is a simple solutions for those who want to start or grow their smart home, without breaking the bank. Read More
By Cody Lee on Dec 9, 2015
I’ve been playing with a cool smart lighting accessory over the past few weeks called the LED IQ Strip by Satechi. It’s a roughly 5-foot strand of multicolor LED lights that can be remotely controlled by virtually any Bluetooth 4.0 device.
Obviously this isn’t a groundbreaking product. There are several “smart” LED strips available these days—most notably the Philips Hue Lighstrip—I think its low price and ease-of-use make Satechi’s LED IQ Strip worth talking about. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 5, 2015
Keeping true to its promise of adding support for Apple’s homeKit platform to its Hue lineup of smart lights, Philips today launched a brand new Hue Bridge 2.0 with HomeKit support, bringing HomeKit compatibility to existing Hue bulbs and lamps. In addition, the new Bridge supports other connected home platforms so it’s future-proof while the original, round-shaped Bridge will continue to be supported with software updates. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 1, 2015
Accessory maker Logitech is entering the home security and automation market with a new portable camera designed for home monitoring. They’re calling it the Logi Circle and it’s both portable and rechargeable.
But don’t let its friendly appearance and small footprint fool you, the Circle is no toy. This device packs in advanced features such as 2-way audio and real-time streaming of high-definition video via a companion smartphone app, Smart Filtering technology that automatically marks events you might want to take a closer look at, a 30-second video review of the past 24 hours and more. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 25, 2015
Philips’s ‘Hue’ programmable LED lights can now be controlled in a more traditional fashion with the new Hue Wireless Dimming Kit and white bulbs.
Announced this morning, the Dimming Kit allows you to adjust the brightness of up to ten white bulbs at the same time and can be installed directly on the wall or used as a remote control of sort for Hue lights.
The Hue Wireless Dimming Kit can be hooked up to Philips’ existing Hue hardware via the company’s Hue bridge accessory to control the standard Hue and Hue Lux lighting. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 27, 2015
Apple’s HomeKit platform was announced more than a year ago but HomeKit-certified products continue to be in scant supply. In fact, there are currently just five HomeKit-compatible accessories available on the market: the Ecobee3, Elgato Eve, iHome iSP5 SmartPlug, Insteon Hub and Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit.
More were announced but HomeKit won’t take off until fall at the earliest for it hit unforseen issues.
First HomeKit code base “blew up” and now prototype devices seem to be performing poorly as the current crop of Bluetooth chips struggle to handle strong encryption imposed by Apple.
With that in mind, here’s a list of HomeKit-compatible appliances thus far. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 22, 2015
HomeKit, Apple’s platform for the connected home, sounds terrific on paper. In reality, HomeKit is like CarPlay, another Apple platform plagued with slower than expected rollout.
There are currently only five HomeKit-compatible accessories on the market: the Ecobee3, Elgato Eve, iHome iSP5 SmartPlug, Insteon Hub and Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit.
A new report alleges that wider HomeKit adoption is being held back by Apple’s stringent encryption requirements. Apparently, Bluetooth chips currently available on the market and certified for HomeKit just can’t handle Apple’s super strong encryption without degrading the experience.
As Forbes reported Wednesday, Apple imposes a high level of encryption on HomeKit accessory makers in order to prevent eavesdropping and protect the privacy of its users. Apple’s focus on privacy, however, has created unacceptable levels of lag in prototype Bluetooth products whose chips have sub-par processing capability. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 17, 2015
Google-owned Nest launched some new home automation gear while refreshing its entire lineup at a media event held in San Francisco this morning. Designed for personal home security, the new Nest Cam is born out of Nest’s acquisition of Wi-Fi video streaming camera maker Dropcam.
The $199 camera has a magnetic stand and can capture and stream a 130-degree video in Full HD 1080p resolution so you can keep an eye on your home while at work.
Moreover, it has advanced night vision, Nest Aware-powered activity alerts and boasts some other cool features worth mentioning. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 8, 2015
HomeKit, Apple’s platform for the connected home that was unveiled last summer, is beginning to pick up support from some well-established names in smart home appliances.
Last week, several vendors brought out some compelling HomeKit-certified home automation devices ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference. And now, HomeKit is going to get a lot smarter with support for new types of home automation systems and improved remote management of your home. Read More
By Jeff Benjamin on Jun 4, 2015
A couple of hours ago, I got my first real hands-on experience with HomeKit—the connected smart home framework that Apple announced at WWDC 2014. A year later, and some of the very first HomeKit enabled products are now landing on store shelves.
The folks over at Lutron were nice enough to send us the Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Kit ($229.95 on Amazon). This kit comes with a Smart Bridge, two remote controls and two plug-in lamp dimmers. Although the kit in and of itself is interesting, our main interest at iDownloadBlog is with its HomeKit support. With that in mind, this post consists of an unboxing and overview of Lutron’s kit and a walkthrough of the HomeKit configuration, including Siri control.
Want to see how HomeKit works in the real world? Then watch our full video walkthrough for more details. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 3, 2015
We’ve known since CES 2015 the Apple TV would play a central role in Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, dating back to October 2014 when HomeKit support first surfaced in an Apple TV Software beta.
Wednesday, a newly published Apple support document has acknowledged that the streaming box acts as a bridge between HomeKit devices and your mobile life. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 2, 2015
Among the first wave of HomeKit-certified devices from SmartLinc and Ecobee, which dropped today ahead of Worldwide Developers Conference next week, iHome on Tuesday launched its HomeKit-enabled smart plug receptacle.
The first in iHome Control series of smart home products, the iHome iSP5 SmartPlug not only controls smart home appliances but “dumb” ones like lamps, using Apple’s HomeKit. The accessory will be available for pre-order on iHome.com beginning June 15. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 2, 2015
Available for pre-order since CES 2015, Insteon said today its hub with support for Apple’s HomeKit will begin shipping to retail stores early next month. Dubbed the Insteon Hub, the device can now be ordered at $149.99 through Amazon.com and via SmartHome.com.
Controlling HomeKit-enabled accessories away from home requires a hub in the form of a third-generation Apple TV with Apple TV software 7.0 or later, or a dedicated product like the Insteon Hub. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 2, 2015
Ahead of Worldwide Developers Conference which kicks off next Monday with a keynote, accessory maker Elgato has launched several smart devices for the connected home built on Apple’s HomeKit platform that it previewed at CES 2015. These accessories use Bluetooth Low Energy and a special iOS app so they’re battery-friendly and fully controllable through your iPhone.
As first noted by German blog iFun.de, the company’s smart home sensor dubbed the Eve, along with other accessories such as the Eve Room, Eve Weather, Door & Window Eve and Eve Energy, can now be pre-ordered from Amazon.com.
These devices make a vision of the HomeKit-enabled connected home a reality by gathering data on air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, energy consumption and more. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 20, 2015
Enhancements to Apple’s HomeKit are expected to be among a flurry of software and platform advances in tow for the Worldwide Developers Conference next month. According to sources, the Cupertino company is thought to be announcing a new app in iOS 9 called Home for managing and controlling HomeKit-certified accessories for the connected home, 9to5Mac learned Wednesday. Read More