Smart Home Diary Stories February 21

I explained in my first HomePod Diary piece that there was one smart home issue we needed to address: while I’m happy to use Siri to control everything from my Apple Watch or iPhone, my partner would often find that she wanted to switch lights on or off while her phone was in another room. We’d partially addressed this with Hue dimmer switches, but wanted more flexibility.

Some kind of smart speaker was the obvious solution to this, and the HomePod would have the advantage of being able to act as a HomeKit hub too.

In my HomePod Diary, I’ve been focusing mostly on music, but I’m also happy to report that the smart speaker has also passed the Steph Test …

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Smart Home Diary Stories January 22

Once you start down the HomeKit route, the convenience of having everything controlled from a single app is pretty addictive. So these days I view HomeKit compatibility as a pretty non-negotiable item with any smart home tech.

But there are limits. And paying £16,500 ($22,000) for a Lutron system was definitely well beyond them!

However, the thing about having a lot of windows – especially floor to ceiling ones – is that good-quality blinds are expensive no matter what. And in the winter garden (glazed balcony) in particular, which is where we spend a huge amount of our time, we wanted really nice ones.

So when we found that we could have great blinds with iPhone control and promised HomeKit support for a little under half that price, we gulped and went for it …

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Smart Home Diary Stories December 4, 2017

It’s hard to believe that I’ve had a comprehensive smart home for less than a year. My first HomeKit purchases were made in January, and the gaps filled in February. Yet the technology had become so much a part of home that it felt really odd (and not a little disconcerting) to be left without it for a couple of weeks.

You always feel a bit like you’re camping for a little while on moving into a new home, when you’re not yet fully unpacked and things aren’t all set up the way you want them. I was surprised just how much of that feeling I got from the lack of home automation.

So it was with some relief that I finally set about rectifying this. Since most of the kit in the old place was included in the sale, we were stating from scratch in our new place …

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Smart Home Diary Stories November 24, 2017

I mentioned that planning a home move gave me a couple of new perspectives on smart home technology, while starting from scratch in the new place forced me to think about what has and hasn’t justified its existence.

They say that the true test of the value of anything is to try living without it for a while, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks.

Much as I love our new apartment, the view from which which came in very handy for testing the iPhone X camera, the place has also required some work. It took a week to get broadband up-and-running, without which I couldn’t install anything, and we also needed to get some basics sorted before worrying about smart home tech …

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Smart Home Diary Stories July 21, 2017

Anyone engaging me in conversation at the moment would be well advised to avoid the topic of realtors in particular, and the joys of finding, buying and selling homes in general.

Progress has been rather frustratingly slow, but we will, at some point, be making the move – and one of the many items on my to-do list has been deciding what will and won’t make the cut in terms of smart home technology …

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Smart Home Diary Stories May 29, 2017

When you spend your life writing about technology, and have a lot of techy friends, you can fairly easily find yourself living inside a hi-tech bubble. Things like smart home technology can start to feel relatively mainstream, especially when companies like Ikea are getting in on the action.

Prices have started to fall, with several commenters on a recent piece noting that even the market leading Philips Hue system has bulbs from $15, often discounted below that level.

We’re starting to see new homes being sold with HomeKit technology included as standard, companies are making the technology easier to adopt with complete table lamps – and installers are setting up shop ready to do the hard work for you if it all seems a bit much for DIY.

But planning to move home has shown me just how far it all is from mainstream as far as the world at large is concerned …

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