Netgear’s ‘Arlo Baby’ Smart Cameras Now Offer HomeKit Support

Starting today, all of Netgear's existing Arlo Baby smart monitoring cameras are compatible with Apple HomeKit following the release of a HomeKit update for the Arlo app.

To connect the Arlo Baby camera to a HomeKit setup, Arlo Baby owners will need to download the update and then toggle on the HomeKit option in the Settings section of the Arlo app.


With HomeKit compatibility, Arlo Baby cameras can be viewed in the Home app on iOS devices right alongside other HomeKit-compatible cameras.

Using the Home app, parents can also view a live stream, access two-way audio controls, view the most recent screenshot recorded by the Arlo Baby, open up the camera live stream via Siri, and access live video remotely with an iPad, Apple TV, or HomePod as a home hub.

Netgear first announced HomeKit compatibility for Arlo Baby at CES in 2018, launching a new line of HomeKit-compatible Arlo Baby cameras. At the time, Netgear also promised to bring HomeKit to existing cameras, a promise that was fulfilled with today's update.

The Arlo Baby cameras will also continue to work with the Arlo app, which can be used for specific features like accessing footage stored in the cloud, tweaking settings, controlling the light, and more.

If you're unfamiliar with the Arlo Baby line, it's a camera that's designed to be used in an infant's room. It offers 1080p video recording and seven days of free cloud storage, along with infrared recording at night, ambient air quality sensors, a music player, and a built-in dimmable night light that can be set to one of several colors.

Netgear sells several Arlo Baby accessories to personalize the camera to fit into a child's room, such as bunny, kitten, and puppy suits. Arlo Baby can be purchased from Amazon.com for $200.


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iDevices Launches HomeKit-Compatible Wireless ‘Instant Switch’

iDevices today announced the launch of the latest product in its smart home lineup, the iDevices Instant Switch. The Instant Switch is a simple wireless wall switch that's designed to attach to a surface using adhesive, so there's no tricky installation required.

The Instant Switch, which was first announced at CES 2017, is designed to work with existing iDevices HomeKit products using a Bluetooth connection, providing an additional method of control. According to iDevices, the Instant Switch can be paired to a hard-wired iDevices Wall or Dimmer Switch to create a three or four-way control configuration, for example.


You can attach the Instant Switch to a wall or another surface using a 3M Command Strip, and it can be placed anywhere in the home. iDevices recommends using it in hard-to-reach locations, because no drilling or rewiring is required. A built-in user-replaceable battery is included, so power isn't needed.


If you don't want to use adhesive, the Instant Switch can also be fitted to any standard rocker faceplate because it's been designed to mimic a permanently installed light switch.

The new iDevices Instant Switch can be purchased from the iDevices website or Amazon.com for $34.95 starting today.


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How to Use HomePod to Control Your HomeKit Devices

Apple's new $349 HomePod sounds incredible and is the ultimate speaker for Apple Music subscribers, but it's also an excellent way to manage your HomeKit-compatible devices through Siri voice commands.

Controlling HomeKit accessories with Siri on HomePod isn't radically different from controlling them via an iOS device, but there are some extra HomePod benefits to be aware of.

HomePod and HomeKit Setup


If you've never used HomeKit before and you purchase a HomePod, when you set it up it's added to HomeKit and to the Home app.

Setup includes a step asking you to choose a Home you're using HomePod in, and if you don't have Home settings already established, it'll let you choose the default "My Home" option, which is established for every iCloud account. If you use HomeKit already like I do, you can choose your existing home, if it has a different name.


From there, you'll choose the room where your HomePod is located, which is also a HomeKit setup step. You'll be familiar with this if you've ever used HomeKit before.

With these two setup steps, you establish a HomeKit setup if you didn't have one before. HomePod itself is a HomeKit accessory, and it's controlled and managed in the dedicated "Home" app along with all other HomeKit accessories.

HomePod in the Home App


The HomePod is listed in the Home app as an available accessory, and if you're a HomeKit user, you know how this works. If you're not, the Home app isn't tough to navigate.

Your HomePod will be listed as "HomePod" on the main screen, and if you tap it, it will either play or pause your music. A 3D Touch or a long press on the HomePod icon in the Home app opens up a full menu where you can get to the HomePod settings by tapping on "Details."


This is where you can change HomeKit settings like turning off Siri, deactivating the Siri lights, disabling listening history, and more. Your HomePod is controlled entirely through the Home app.


Home Hub


HomePod, like the Apple TV and iPad, serves as a home hub, which means it communicates with all of your HomeKit devices all the time, allowing you to control them even when you're away from home.


A home hub is essential for controlling HomeKit devices remotely and setting up automations based on time of day, location, or conditions detected by HomeKit-compatible sensors. If you have an Apple TV or an iPad, you've already got a home hub and don't need to worry about this functionality, but if you don't, this is added bonus functionality.

HomePod as a home hub covers all of the HomeKit devices in your home, even if they're not located close by the HomePod itself.

Siri on HomePod


One of the best benefits of the HomePod is how well it can hear and react to "Hey Siri" commands. It will hear you from across the room with loud music playing, and it's so sensitive that it's even going to detect the "Hey Siri" command if you whisper it nearby.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the HomePod's listening capabilities work incredibly well, so for HomeKit-based voice commands, it's much better than attempting to use an iPhone. You can essentially say "Hey Siri" and repeat a HomeKit command from anywhere in a room with a HomePod, and you're going to get a speedy response.


The listening range far exceeds the iPhone or iPad, and it makes the HomePod the perfect hands-free device for controlling everything from the lights to the door locks. Longtime HomeKit users who often use voice commands will find this much simpler, and HomeKit users who don't often use Siri should give the personal assistant a second chance on HomePod.

By the way, if you have both a HomePod and an iOS device that responds to "Hey Siri," when you speak, it will almost always default to the HomePod. This is because all of your devices communicate with one another and are smart enough to know that the HomePod is the device that you're aiming to use.

TIP: Don't pause between "Hey Siri" and whatever HomeKit command you're speaking. If you want to turn on the lights, for example, say "Hey Siri turn on the lights" all at once rather than saying "Hey Siri" and waiting for a response. Siri on the HomePod works well enough that a pause isn't required, and it can even confuse your HomeKit commands if you insert a pause.

Manually Activating Siri


If you want to issue a Siri command without "Hey Siri," you can do so by placing a finger on the HomePod and leaving it there for a few seconds until the Siri waveform lights come on. From there, Siri works as usual.

HomePod Siri Commands


While Siri on HomePod is excellent at detecting "Hey Siri" commands, Apple hasn't implemented any upgrades to the way Siri is controlled via voice on the HomePod. If you already use Siri to manage HomeKit devices on iOS, Siri on HomePod works in the exact same way.

If you're new to Siri and HomeKit, though, there are tons of commands you can use, many of which are specific to certain devices. With lights, for example, you can use some of the following commands:

  • Hey Siri, turn on the lights

  • Hey Siri, turn off the lights

  • Hey Siri, dim the lights

  • Hey Siri, make all of the lights in the office maximum brightness

  • Hey Siri, are the lights in the office on?

  • Hey Siri, turn all of the lights in the office blue

  • Hey Siri, turn the Hue lightstrip purple


HomeKit commands vary, so you'll need to learn the different options available for each device. With locks, for example, you can ask Siri to lock or unlock the door, and if you have a temperature sensor or thermostat, you can ask Siri what the temperature is.

Scenes and automation are a major part of HomeKit, but there's no voice-based way to set these up. If you want to link your HomeKit devices together to have them do certain things at set times of day, such as turning on all of the lights at night, you're going to need to set that up in the Home app or a third-party HomeKit app.

That said, Scenes are incredibly useful, and you can set up handy automations for waking up, going to bed, leaving home, arriving home, and more, and all of these can be controlled via HomePod by asking Siri to set the scene name. If you have a night time scene called "Good Night," for example, you can trigger it just by saying "Hey Siri, Good Night."

Conclusion


If you already have a HomeKit setup, the HomePod has some handy features that make it a worthwhile purchase, and if you have a HomePod but no HomeKit devices, it may be worth looking into HomeKit accessories because they work so well with HomePod.

For those of you who have never used Siri with HomeKit or have abandoned Siri because of spotty results, it's worth giving Siri on HomePod another try. In my experience as a longtime HomeKit user, HomePod is a solid evolutionary step towards a better hands-free home automation setup.

"Hey Siri" on HomePod seems to be more responsive on HomePod, and it's easier to use because you don't need to make sure your iPhone is close at hand to accomplish tasks around the house.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Tag: HomeKit
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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How to Prevent Other HomePod Users From Affecting Your Apple Music Recommendations

Apple's HomePod speaker is best enjoyed when linked to an Apple Music subscription, since this allows you to make the most of Siri's enhanced music smarts and its DJ-like role as a personal music curator, or "mixologist", as Apple calls it.

As Apple Music subscribers will know, the streaming service learns your music preferences based on what you say and play, which helps it populate the app's "For You" section with new songs that you might like, and enables Siri to generate new playlists on the fly at your request.

If you're concerned that other people in your household will skew your Apple Music recommendations by using HomePod to play songs that don't align with your tastes, then there's a setting you'll want to disable as soon as possible. It's called "Use Listening History", and here's how to find it.

How to Enable/Disable Your HomePod's Listening History


  1. Open the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Long press on the HomePod icon in your Accessories list.
  3. Tap the Details button.
  4. Under the "Music & Podcasts" section, toggle on/off Use Listening History.

And that's it. By turning off the setting, HomePod will happily continue to play songs from Apple's vast music catalog for anyone who asks, but the songs will be excluded from its personal curation algorithms.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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How to Prevent Other HomePod Users From Affecting Your Apple Music Recommendations

Apple's HomePod speaker is best enjoyed when linked to an Apple Music subscription, since this allows you to make the most of Siri's enhanced music smarts and its DJ-like role as a personal music curator, or "mixologist", as Apple calls it.

As Apple Music subscribers will know, the streaming service learns your music preferences based on what you say and play, which helps it populate the app's "For You" section with new songs that you might like, and enables Siri to generate new playlists on the fly at your request.

If you're concerned that other people in your household will skew your Apple Music recommendations by using HomePod to play songs that don't align with your tastes, then there's a setting you'll want to disable as soon as possible. It's called "Use Listening History", and here's how to find it.

How to Enable/Disable Your HomePod's Listening History


  1. Open the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Long press on the HomePod icon in your Accessories list.
  3. Tap the Details button.
  4. Under the "Music & Podcasts" section, toggle on/off Use Listening History.

And that's it. By turning off the setting, HomePod will happily continue to play songs from Apple's vast music catalog for anyone who asks, but the songs will be excluded from its personal curation algorithms.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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Logitech’s HomeKit-Enabled Circle 2 Cameras Gain Notification Snapshots and Subscription Discounts

Logitech today announced the launch of new features for its HomeKit-compatible Circle 2 security cameras via an update to the Logi Circle app.

Notification Snapshots, a new in-app feature, are designed to provide a visual "snapshot" notification of an event whenever motion is detected by the Circle 2 camera.

With this option, you'll get a visual representation of exactly what triggered the motion detection feature rather than a simple text-based notification that lets you know motion was detected. Snapshots will be sent via push notification and should let you react more quickly to incoming motion detection alerts.


For customers who also subscribe to Logitech's Circle Safe premium service, Notification Snapshots offer up a zoomed-in view of the object or person that triggered the motion detection based on the Circle's Person Detection feature.

Enabling Notification Snapshots on existing Circle 2 cameras will require you to download the updated Logi Circle app from the App Store and install a new firmware update from within the app.

Along with new notification features, Logitech is also introducing new Circle Safe Home subscription plans designed for customers with multiple cameras.

Circle Safe pricing starts at $3.99 per month for the basic subscription for a single camera and goes up to $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year) for the premium subscription, but customers with multiple cameras can now get discounted prices.

For up to five cameras, Circle Safe Basic starts at $6.99 per month or $69 per year, while Circle Safe Premium starts at $17.99 per month or $179 per year.

Circle Safe Basic and Circle Safe Premium allow you to store video in the cloud for a longer period of time and access premium features. Logitech's cameras, available from Logitech and Amazon for $180, can be used sans subscription, but only 24 hours of video footage is stored in the cloud.


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HomePod May Support Multiple User Accounts and HomeKit Scenes That Mute Siri

Several new icons unearthed in the latest build of iOS 11.2.5 and shared on Twitter appear to reveal additional functionality included in Apple's upcoming HomePod smart speaker. On Sunday, Filipe Espósito found an image hidden amongst Apple's Home app assets that includes icons which suggest it will be possible to create custom scenes that mute the HomePod speaker's "Hey, Siri" function.


As Espósito notes, the function could be useful in a house party scenario, for example, where the owner might want to control other smart devices like lights and motion sensors while disabling Siri responses for privacy reasons.

Apple has not yet mentioned if HomePod can support more than one user, but Espósito believes there are references that indicate the speaker will distinguish between different voices to service multiple accounts. He also notes that existing assets show support for combining two HomePods for stereo sound, or using two or more HomePods to simultaneously stream music using Apple's AirPlay 2 wireless streaming protocol.

Apple originally announced the HomePod back in June 2017 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, where it demoed the speaker's advanced spatial awareness which intelligently adjusts to the surroundings to deliver the best possible sound. The company initially planned to release the Siri-based speaker in December 2017, but in a subsequent statement said it was pushing back launch to a more non-specific "early 2018" timeframe.

Rumors suggest HomePod supplier Inventec has started shipping the HomePod to Apple, whose historical definition of "early" is January through April, so it's still not entirely clear when it will launch. Supplies of the HomePod could also potentially be limited at launch, based on information shared from Inventec, and Apple has said the $349 speaker will initially only ship in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Tag: HomeKit

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CES 2018: Brinks Announces New HomeKit-Compatible ARRAY Smart Lights and Lock

Home security brand Brinks is expanding its ARRAY line of smart home products with new outdoor lighting options equipped with cameras and smart deadbolts that let you make sure your door is secure from afar.

The ARRAY Smart Light fixtures, which are meant to replace a home's existing outdoor lighting, include built-in cameras with custom lenses and improved camera firmware to offer up reduced shadows and distortion.


AI built into the accompanying app is able to tell the difference between people, animals, and inanimate objects like tree branches to deliver smart notifications, and Brinks says there's "virtually no lag time" between when the camera senses motion and an image appears in the ARRAY app.

Brinks will offer two versions of the ARRAY Smart Light, including a coach light designed for front porches and a dual-head security light meant for yards and side areas. Both are equipped with a 2-in-1 lighting feature that includes a standard illumination setting and an ultra bright setting that's activated when motion is detected. The Smart Lights will launch later in 2018.

Brinks' upcoming ARRAY Chek lock, also coming at an unspecified date in 2018, is a smartphone-connected lock that uses electronic sensing to make sure your deadbolt is secured. An integrated "Smart Latch" will communicate with the ARRAY app, letting users know whether the door is locked and closed for peace of mind.


Both the ARRAY Smart Lights and Chek are compatible with HomeKit, which will allow them to interface with existing HomeKit products. Brinks tells us that HomeKit support will be available for both either at launch or very close to launch.

In addition to the Smart Lights and the Chek lock, Brinks is this week opening up pre-orders for its previously announced Smart Deadbolt.


Priced at $249, the Smart Deadbolt has a built-in solar panel for charging and Alexa support. HomeKit support will be available for the Smart Deadbolt in the first half of 2018.


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CES 2018: NETGEAR’s Arlo Baby Monitoring Camera Now Supports HomeKit

NETGEAR at CES 2018 this week announced its Arlo Baby monitoring camera will soon be compatible with Apple's HomeKit platform.


A new HomeKit-enabled version of the Arlo Baby camera will be released soon, and a firmware update will automatically add HomeKit support to existing models at no additional cost to customers.

HomeKit support will enable iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users to access the majority of Arlo Baby's features for smart monitoring of your baby in Apple's Home app on iOS 10 and watchOS 3 or newer software versions.

NETGEAR shared a list of some of the Arlo Baby's functions that can be controlled with the Home app or Siri voice commands:
  • Live video stream viewing of your baby via the Arlo Baby camera feed
  • Two-way audio for talking, cooing and listening to your baby and other people near the camera
  • Quick view of the most recent screenshot recorded by Arlo Baby when the camera was last activated
  • Voice control by asking Siri to show you your camera's live stream
  • Remotely access the camera's live video/audio feed and two-way communication when you have an iPad or fourth generation or newer Apple TV in your home.
Many of these functions previously required downloading NETGEAR's Arlo companion app, which will remain available on the App Store.

Arlo Baby features 1080p video recording with a rolling seven days of free cloud recordings, infrared night vision capabilities, two-way audio, ambient air quality sensors, a music-and-sound player, and a dimmable night light.

The camera sends real-time, customizable alerts to your Apple devices when motion or sound is detected, including your baby crying. It is primarily intended to be plugged into an AC wall adapter, but it also has a built-in rechargeable backup battery that lasts up to six hours in the daytime and up to three hours at night.

Arlo Baby can be personalized into animals like a bunny, kitten, or puppy with add-on character sets. The camera is available to purchase on Amazon and at major retailers for a suggested price of $249.99 in the United States, but it may take some time for the HomeKit firmware update to roll out.


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CES 2018: Orbit Adding HomeKit to Lawn and Garden Watering Systems

Orbit at CES 2018 this week announced that it is adding HomeKit compatibility to its new B-hyve smart hose faucet timer and a new version of its B-hyve smart sprinkler timer that will be released later this month.


iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users will have the ability to control the lawn and garden watering systems through Apple's Home app or with Siri.

HomeKit will enable users to control basic watering functions, such as turning on or off sprinklers. In the Home app, users can schedule their sprinklers to run at specific times, and find out when the next watering is.

Orbit's new HomeKit-enabled B-hyve products will be available to purchase from Amazon, The Home Depot, and Lowe's in the United States.

HomeKit added support for sprinkler systems and faucets in iOS 11, and the first accessories compatible with Apple's smart home platform are beginning to roll out, including Kohler's new Sensate kitchen sink faucet.


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