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All The Smart Home Stuff You Need to Ditch Voice Commands Forever

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A photo of someone controlling their Philips Hue lights from a phone.
Philips Hue

Don’t you hate repeating yourself? Voice commands are unreliable, but yelling at a Google or Alexa is usually easier than pulling out a smartphone. Here are three ways you can streamline your smart home experience and ditch annoying voice controls forever.

Philips, Google, Amazon

You shouldn’t have to micromanage your smart home. If you want to abandon voice commands and streamline your smart home experience, then you need to start automating common tasks through schedules, routines, and smart sensors.

Home and Away” routines, which automatically trigger smart devices when you leave or enter your home. That extra layer of automation is a major time-saver, and it makes owning a smart home way more enjoyable.

smart home sensors.

Smart home sensors use environmental factors like motion or temperature to trigger your smart bulbs, plugs, thermostat, and other devices. Motion sensors see when you enter and leave a room, contact sensors fit in your doors and windows to tell if they’re opened or closed, and temperature sensors keep track of your home’s temperature and humidity—usually to provide more accurate readings for your thermostat or to control fans plugged into smart outlets.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many smart home sensors on the market, and only a handful of existing sensors are multipurpose (others work with specific products or brands). It doesn’t help that Wyze has temporarily stopped selling its affordable smart sensors while it develops 2nd generation models (you can still get Wyze sensors with the Wyze Starter Bundle). At the time of writing, Shelly’s Motion Sensor and Door/Window Sensors are the only Wi-Fi sensors worth buying. They’re compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant.

If you plan on using a lot of smart sensors, I suggest skipping Wi-Fi sensors and using Z-Wave or Zigbee sensors instead, which have a better battery life and range than Wi-Fi devices. Ecolink’s Motion Detector or Door and Window Sensor are both great options, but keep in mind that they require a compatible hub, like the Samsung SmartThings Hub or the Hubitat Elevation Hub. If you own an Amazon Echo display or speaker, then you could also use a Zigbee sensor, as Amazon Echo devices double as Zigbee hubs.

Ecolink’s Motion Detector and Door and Window Sensor are two Z-Link smart sensors that are worth looking at. You could also buy a Nest or Ecobee temperature sensor if you own Nest or Ecobee thermostats, or a Hue Motion Sensor if you own Philips Hue bulbs.



Amazon

Living without voice commands is a lot easier once you’ve automated your smart home. But because you aren’t using voice commands, you’re stuck doing any manual adjustments from your phone. For more convenient manual controls, you’ll need a smart home control center, like a smart display or a tablet, dedicated to running the Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Homekit app.

Smart displays, like the Google Nest Hub and Echo Show, are just smart speakers with touchscreens. They put all your smart home controls in one place and can even stream video from services like YouTube or Netflix. All smart displays have a switch to turn off their microphone, so you can handle everything from their touchscreen and never worry about voice commands.

That said, smart displays work best with voice controls, they’re a bit expensive, and they can take up a lot of counter space. You might be better off using a tablet as a control center instead, as tablets are thin, cheap, easy to move around, and run the same touch-friendly smart home apps as your phone. Plus, they can replicate the streaming and video chat functionality that you get with a bulkier smart speaker.

An Amazon Fire tablet is the cheapest solution, though it only works with Alexa (you can also sideload Google Home on a Fire tablet, which is pretty easy). A low-end Android tablet like the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus costs more than a Fire tablet, but it can run Alexa and Google Assistant without jumping through any hoops. And while iPads are expensive, they’re the only option for HomeKit users, plus they can run the Alexa and Google Assistant apps. (Thankfully, old iPads still run pretty well, and used iPads aren’t that expensive.)

Of course, if you have an extra tablet lying around, you should try using it as your control center. But whatever tablet you end up using, we suggest buying a mount to stick the tablet on your wall or fridge. A universal wall or fridge mount can fit any tablet, giving you a clean dedicated space to control your smart home, stream video, or beam music to wireless speakers.



Fire 7 tablet (7″ display, 16 GB) – Black

Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet costs just $50, making it the cheapest option for those who want a dedicated smart home control center. It works with Alexa and Google Home, though you have to sideload the Google Home app to get it up and running.





Flic

Automating smart home tasks and setting up a dedicated control center should streamline your smart home without the need for voice commands. But if you want precise, tactile controls for all the devices in your home, then it’s time to invest in some smart switches and buttons.

Smart switches and buttons are physical controls that you can program to adjust specific devices in your home. The best example of a smart switch is probably the Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer, a physical dimmer control for your smart bulbs. The Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer fully replaces your existing light switch, and features On/Off controls and buttons to adjust bulb brightness. It won’t confuse you or your guests, and it saves you the trouble of taping all your light switches in the “On” position. Just keep in mind, the Lutron Caseta dimmer only works if you own a $100 Lutron Smart Bridge.

Flic is the best smart button available today. It’s small, wire-free, customizable, and programmable, so you can use it to trigger any of your smart home devices. Flic buttons can also trigger smart home routines, maximizing your home automation and adding a new layer of tactile control to your smart home.





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Google Enjoy Retail store to Call for Privacy Data Section, Like Apple Application Retail outlet

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Next Apple’s direct, Google will also start off necessitating applications to disclose their privacy and safety techniques in its Enjoy Keep. Google is also requiring its own applications to share this details so people will know what info is staying collected about them.

The initiative will start off sometime in 2022, and will see a new protection part included to every single app’s Perform Retailer listing. It is built to “help people today understand the information an app collects or shares, if that facts is secured, and added details that effect privacy and security. Just like Apple’s privacy diet labels, the protection area will checklist out accurately what data an application will have obtain to on your unit the moment it is downloaded. This can include things like your contacts, site, and/or bits of your individual details, this kind of as an electronic mail tackle.

Google would like application builders to offer supplemental details in context to describe how their app works by using the gathered data and how it impacts that app’s overall features. Builders should also disclose irrespective of whether any of this facts is encrypted, irrespective of whether people can decide out of any facts sharing, and regardless of whether or not it is adhering to Google’s guidelines for applications aimed at little ones. Google also ideas to be aware irrespective of whether a third party has verified all of the information and facts detailed in the basic safety section.

Google's implementation timeline for safety section
Google

By waiting until finally next calendar year to start out imposing this coverage, Google is hoping it’ll give developers enough time to put into action the changes on their close. According to a new timeline Google shared, builders can start off publishing their privacy information in the Google Enjoy Console beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Consumers will start seeing safety segment facts early 2022. Google’s deadline for just about every app to include this information and facts is by the next quarter of 2022, and apps that are unsuccessful to comply by that time will be subject to policy enforcement. Developers that misrepresent facts will be expected to proper their details.

via The Verge

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