Holiday gift guide: Smart home products – get a jump on HomeKit for 2015

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I wondered earlier this year whether Apple’s HomeKit system would bring home automation to the masses. The good news is that you don’t need to wait for HomeKit to start bringing smart home technology to your family and friends – and we’ve put together a gift guide covering some of the main products that might bring a smile to their faces during the holidays.

With the right gadgets, they will be able to control lighting, heating, cooking, sound systems … even have their kettle switch on when they walk up to their front door, which will automatically unlock as they approach. Best of all, you can get them in on the smart home action from just $30 …

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Review: Jawbone UP 24, a smart fitness band that gets you up 24/7

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The Jawbone UP bracelet has been on the market for three years receiving improvements every year. The Jawbone UP 24 received a major update: Bluetooth LE. Initially to sync the data onto the phone, the user had to plug the band into the phone’s headphone jack and wait, typically about fifteen seconds, for the data to sync into the app.

Now, since the UP 24 has Bluetooth LE capabilities, it is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, the fifth generation iPod Touch, the third generation iPad and newer as well as the iPad Minis. Jawbone has made the UP 24 to be compatible with Android phones. Bluetooth LE allows the band to automatically connect with the Jawbone UP app.

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DIYers! Belkin WeMo ‘Maker’ brings smartphone remote and IFTTT functionality to nearly any device

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At this point, we are all familiar with the Belkin WeMo line of products. They’ve been empowering consumers with smartphone-connected home automation products for some time now, from light switches to its newly released coffee maker.

While the WeMo line performs a number of simple tasks, it has not necessarily provided the level of open source capabilities that some consumers long for. Today, Belkin has taken a step in that direction with its new WeMo Maker.

This new product empowers DIYers to create their own custom WeMo setup, the possibilities truly seem endless.

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Withings’ new HomeKit-integrated video monitoring & environmental sensor device detects crying

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Withings, a company well-known for its line of iPhone-connected health and fitness tracking accessories, today announced a new video monitoring device with environmental sensors called  Home. While Home is a video monitoring solution that can be used for security, the company is also including some pretty unique features that it hopes will make your home both a healthier and safer environment. Read more

Elgato announces Eve home automation integrated with Apple’s HomeKit, Avea smart LED lights and Smart Power batteries

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Everything has pretty much stopped in North America for Labor Day (except for perv hackers), but IFA 2014 is ramping up in Germany and Elgato is using this event to debut a new lineup of smart accessories. The announcement encompasses three major new products: Eve, Avea, and Smart Power.

Elgato Eve is easily the most compelling new product in this lineup. Through the use of several sensors, Avea monitors your home’s “air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, energy and water consumption.” These Bluetooth connected sensors report back to your iPhone or iPad via the Elgato Eve app. And here’s the best part, it will be fully compatible with Apple HomeKit…
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Samsung acquires iOS-connected home automation company SmartThings

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About a month ago, word broke that Samsung was interested in acquiring home automation firm SmartThings and today the two companies have made things official. A blog post by the company’s founder and CEO, Alex Hawkinson acknowledged the deal and stated that SmartThings will continue to act as an independent company under Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group.

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Review: iKettle, the iPhone-controlled kettle for gadget-loving tea drinkers

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Any tea drinker will know the experience. You wander into the kitchen to put the kettle on to make tea, wander back to the living-room or office and half an hour later realize you forgot all about it. So the second time you stand there waiting impatiently for it to boil. This is the problem the iKettle sets out to solve.

That, at least, is my excuse. The reality, of course, is that it’s a kettle with wifi – how could anyone reasonably expect me to resist … ?  Read more

Android Wear gives us a glimpse at what home automation with an iWatch should look like

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Home automation, a category more broadly referred to as the “internet of things,” is almost surely going to be a large and growing market in the coming years. And while Apple’s recently announced entry is the forthcoming HomeKit platform, Google has yet to announce anything exactly equivalent. At I/O 2014, however, Google did announce its plan for Nest, and shed much more light on its Android Wear smartwatch operating system.

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‘Parenthood’ iPhone ad airs with focus on families and HomeKit devices

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Apple has begun airing a new TV ad to promote the iPhone 5s that focuses on uses by parents within both “Smart Homes” and in everyday family life. The ad, aptly named “Parenthood,” shows how the iPhone can be used to record home video, find a lost dog, monitor the children, and turn off the lights in the living room. The ad comes ahead of HomeKit Smart Home appliance integration with iOS 8 this fall. Sources have also indicated that Apple is developing its own line of connected hardware for the home. Apple’s previous iPhone ad, part of the same “more powerful than you think series” demonstrated various uses for the iPhone in the health and fitness space. You can watch the latest ad below:

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Apple’s HomeKit partner Honeywell launches Lyric smart thermostat Nest competitor

With Apple stepping into the home automation arena by way of offering closer device integration through its new HomeKit API announced alongside iOS 8, just about every appliance in the home is potential for being refreshed and gaining deeper connectivity with our iPhones and iPads. Honeywell, a launch partner for Apple’s new home automation development tools, is today announcing its new Lyric smart thermostat to compete against similar offerings from competitors like the now Google-owned Nest. Read more

Gallery: First look at iOS 8 with Health app, Notification Center widgets, and more

Earlier today Apple announced the next version of its iOS software, iOS 8, during the WWDC keynote today. Below you’ll find a gallery of all the new bells and whistles in the latest operating system. If you’ve got some screenshots you’d like to send us, you can send them to tips@9to5mac.com.

The new software includes features like iOS-to-Mac continuity, quick-reply for first- and third-party apps, a new predictive text keyboard, changes to the Mail appHealthKit framework and Health app, Family Sharing features, new Photos cloud storage, an updated iCloud pricing scheme, new commands for Siri, App Store changes including beta distribution, a Touch ID API, third-party keyboards, new iCloud management and development features, a home automation framework, and even support for a brand new programming language.

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Apple announces HomeKit API for iOS, will serve as a central hub for home automation

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Along with several other new APIs for developers, Apple has announced HomeKit which allows all home automation accessories/devices to work together. The new API will allow home automation developers to centralize all home automation in iOS without needing separate apps to access each device’s specific features. These devices include locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more.

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