Steve and I have been moving very cautiously into having a smart home. We started with a smart smoke detector with the Nest, then a couple of Hue lightbulbs came on the scene. We added a couple of Wemo switches somewhere along the line, and eventually a couple of security cameras, as I’ve told you about before. The one thing that really gave us pause was the idea of a smart door lock.
But then I started talking to that crazy Joe Dugandzic of Smarter Home Life, and he talked about his cool August Smart Lock. I was jealous, but I still didn’t jump. Then I listened to a podcast (and I wish for the life of me I could remember which one) where they talked about someone testing a whole pile of smart locks and determining which had good security models. The August Smart Lock was on the good list. Additionally, the August Smart Lock is HomeKit-compatible. It isn’t the only smart lock that’s HomeKit compatible, but that definitely played into our decision. If you’re a fan of Alexa, she can play with the August devices as well.
By now you’re either sick of hearing about HomePod, or you’re so curious about it you’re paying attention to this. I thought it might be fun to talk about what has surprised Steve and me about HomePod.
I’ve read the reviews, I’ve heard the hype, and I’ve heard the naysayers. I would suggest to you that you think about HomePod as a speaker. A really awesome speaker that has great sound. And it also comes with a frequently recalcitrant, always myopic, and slightly dimwitted assistant. How about we avoid the word “smart” altogether?
CES was a complete blast this year. We got to hang out with Dave Hamilton, John F. Braun, and Jeff Gamet. Oh, and Chuck Joiner was there too. We stayed at the same hotel, and traveled to the special press events together but then we pretty much scattered to do our own thing. We also got to hang out with Joe Dugandzic from Smarter Home Life. We dragged him along (kicking and screaming) to a DTNS meetup where we met a bunch of fun people. You’ve already heard Joe on Chit Chat Across the Pond from this week where we talked about his journey from Youtuber to full-time employee at Lynky, a smart home device company.
Then NosillaCastaway Joe LaGreca came out on Wednesday and we did the actual Convention Center walk. Steve and I did 28 interviews, 25 of which were at press events, and only 3 of which were at the Convention Center halls. The press events are 1-200 vendors, while the actual Convention Center is so darn huge it’s overwhelming. Plus by that time we’ve been there for three days and we’re kind of burned out!
This is Denise Crown, and I have a confession. I’m obsessed with Hue Lights. I started with the Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit and quickly fell in love. Before I knew what I was even doing, I had purchased flood lights for the kitchen, added bulbs to the bedroom, and purchased a Bloom and a Go Portable. I normally control them with either the Hue app on my iphone, or Amazon’s Echo Dot. The Echo Dot works well to control them, and has become my home automation integration tool of choice. It just works, and it works with everything I have.
What problems do the Hue Lights solve? Well, they are fun and a lack of fun is a big problem.
This week I’m joined by the awesome Joe Dugandzic from Smarter Home Life (smarterhomelife.com) to talk about the huge set of product and capability announcements from Amazon about their Echo line of devices. We talk Echo Show, Echo Look, ecobee4, and the new voice calling in the Alexa app for your existing Echo devices. Joe is really into home automation with a fabulous YouTube channel so he really knows his stuff. Plus he’s fun and entertaining. Links to everything we talked about after the “continue reading” button!
Mikah Sargent, senior editor at Mobile Nations and podcaster at RelayFM joins us to compare and contrast how Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon help with home automation and other tasks around the house. He has a vast array of Home Automation devices from Hue lights to Eve sensors to an Ecobee thermostat to an August smart lock so he’s got the experience. I found Mikah’s intelligent commentary combined with his light humor to be a delightful combination.
A little while back I bought an Amazon Echo Dot. For some reason, I haven’t really taken the time to learn what it can do yet. Sure I can ask it the weather and to play a song, but not much more. This is not for lack of Amazon trying to motivate me, though. I get emails every few days suggesting I teach Alexa some new skills. If I would just open the Alexa app on my iPhone, surely I would find happiness there.
Nobody does marketing better than Amazon. This week on Cyber Monday, Amazon sent out an email specifically for Echo owners. The deal was pretty cool. If you used your Amazon Echo to order one of the things on their list using your voice, you’d get 25% off the purchase price and a $10 Amazon gift card.
This was too good to pass up. I went to the kitchen where I have the Echo Dot, and called out her name. The little blue / turquoise ring floated around the top to let me know she was listening. I said, “Order a Fire Stick.” She said, “it’s not in stock right now, but will ship on Thursday. The price will be $29.99 plus tax. Do you want to order it?” I said, “yes”.
It was the most frictionless purchase l’ve ever made. Now think about what Amazon accomplished here:
They got me to buy something
They taught me how to use what I’d already bought to buy more things
The thing they got me to buy was a device to help me buy and rent video content from them
They gave me a gift card… so I could buy more things from them
I got to host Bart’s show, Let’s Talk Photography at lets-talk.ie/…. My RecoLive Tutorial is up at ScreenCasts Online, check it out at screencastsonline.com/…. I go on a bit of a rant about how the Live Show almost died because of a guy doing a takedown notice on YouTube of an interview we did with his company. That rant is followed by another one where I explain why I am neither sad nor surprised about the mess Samsung is in. If you get value out of the show, please consider pledging support at podfeet.com/patreon. I do a deep dive into the Reminders app for iOS and macOS. Then I walk you through my experience setting up the $50 Amazon Echo Dot. Bart Busschots jumps in for an out of band Security Medium where he explains what happened to the Internet this week. We talk about DNS and how the servers work, the role insecure IoT devices played in it and some suspicions about who was behind the attack.
Every once in a while there’s a device comes out that everyone loves, and urges you to get, even if they can’t articulate to you why it’s so awesome. I remember a hundred years ago when my friend Eric told me to get a Palm Pilot. He explained to me that it was a small handheld device that would hold my contacts and calendar. I pointed to my 3 pound full-sized Franklin Planner notebook and said, “My planner already does that, why do I need this?” He was relentless. I took his advice and of course I was hooked.
This same kind of enthusiasm and zeal is happening around the Amazon Echo. People love their Echos. They don’t just like them, they loooooove them. You may remember when I had Mike Elgan on the show, he said one of the few things worthy of being carried around the world in his nomadic life is an Amazon Echo. He said all the usual things I’d heard before, play music, ask the weather, set a timer or listen to podcasts. I pressed him that I could do all of those things with Siri. He said it was different but hard to articulate, so I should just get one. Continue reading “Echo Dot 2nd Gen is Clumsy on Initial Setup”
I was listening to Leo Laporte talking on one of his shows about how cool it was that you can play TWiT podcasts using an Amazon Echo, via TuneIn Radio. TuneIn is a service that lets you listen to over 100,000 live radio stations but also on-demand content like podcasts. I heard about TuneIn from Todd Whitehead who runs Alpha Geek Media. Todd spreads the live NosillaCast show via Alpha Geek which in turn sends it to TuneIn radio which is awesome.
That got me to thinking it would be cool to find out if Alexa, the Amazon Echo’s personal assistant, would play the NosillaCast. My friend Diane has an Amazon Echo which she loves. She’s showed off to me all this really cool stuff it can do so I asked her to test podcasts for me. I told her that TWiT should work but that I really wanted to know whether the NosillaCast would play on demand by voice.
Diane explained one more interesting bit after the comedy. There is an Amazon Echo app for iOS with which she can ask it to play the NosillaCast via TuneIn…and it works just fine. So the Echo doesn’t hate the NosillaCast, it’s only Alexa who has the attitude!