As we concluded our first full year of publication, it is apparent that smart-home technology is clearly front and center to you, members of our growing audience. In looking back at the big-data repository view of our publishing world for all of calendar year 2016, smart-home technology content earned 9 of the top 10 slots based on the total number of WordPress article views recorded on our website at digitized.house. In case you missed them, here’s a quick recap of the top 10, which is headed up by iDevices bridges Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa worlds—where we wrote about the new features in the iDevices smart-home ecosystem where the company is linking their Apple HomeKit accessories to the popular Amazon Alexa voice-recognition platform.
The 2016 Top 10
1. iDevices bridges Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa worlds
Apple HomeKit accessories can often be islands of smart-home automation. That is largely due to the current HomeKit architecture on iOS, where accessory manufacturers develop standalone apps for pairing and controlling their family of accessories. iDevices, one of the first companies to release products through the Works with Apple HomeKit program, seeks to bridge the gap to worlds beyond HomeKit by recently upgrading their app to support the Amazon Alexa voice service—the software engine behind the popular Amazon Echo speaker line …
2. Smart locks to play key role in move to connected living
Technology touches so many areas of our domestic lives. Our homes are becoming automated, and increasingly filled to the brim with intelligent appliances and accessories. When we’re away, we monitor them with smart cameras, connected alarm systems, and other sensors. We back up treasured photos, music collections, and more with personal cloud services. Yet until now, most of us have chosen to secure our homes—and their super-smart contents—with a technology invented thousands of years ago. Times are changing, however. The old-fashioned mechanical door lock is reaching its sell-by date, and is set to be replaced … by the smart lock …
3. Future-proofing your smart home with structured media components
Structured media panels have become standard fare in many new homes, as production and custom home builders are often including technology wiring packages in their base home feature lists, or offering them as upgrades. These in-wall panels are congregation and access portals for various types of so-called structured or home-run wiring, and need to be fitted between wall studs during construction. And largely due to the relatively low cost of installing these panels and associated wiring runs—particularly if there is a desire to install smart-home technology in the future—we recommend you opt for as much of this low-tech, future-proofing componentry as your construction budget can afford …
4. Apple iOS 10 elevates HomeKit via Home app and hubs
In a concerted effort to elevate the profile of Apple HomeKit—the Cupertino company’s foundational infrastructure for smart-home technology accessory integration—Apple has taken a giant step forward by releasing the fresh Home app concurrent with the launch of iOS 10. Nearly lost among the Apple press event hoopla over the iPhone 7, Watch Series 2, and broader iOS 10 features, the upshot of this HomeKit upgrade is the prominence of the Home app on the launch screen of every iOS 10 mobile device—Apple’s first-ever native integration console for the smart home, and a ready-made onramp to connected living …
5. Smart-home power broker: SmartThings Hub from Samsung
In the powers-that-be battle for dominance on the evolving smart-home automation front, electronics giant Samsung took its opening shot across the driveway in August of 2014 with its acquisition of smart-hub vendor SmartThings. Earlier in 2014, mega-players Google and Apple also made their respective forays into the smart-home tech field: Google acquired smart thermostat pioneer Nest Labs, and Apple announced support for its iOS-only HomeKit integration platform. All of these three largely-do-it-yourself platforms have been evolving and expanding their device support since then, but there are plenty of other players in the fray as all, including the likes of the Belkin WeMo environment, Iris by Lowe’s, the Wink hub, and many more. But Samsung made one of most notable recent advances in this genre of Internet of Things (IoT) technology with the launch of the SmartThings Hub V2 …
6. Apple HomeKit sprouts a Home app in iOS 10
It has been two years since Apple first announced the development of HomeKit—their entry into the realm of smart-home automation and integration—at their 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). But conspicuously absent was the presence of a bona fide HomeKit app, as Apple has been relying entirely on disparate apps from third-party providers developing products under the Works with Apple HomeKit program. That all changes in iOS 10: For the first time, there will be a native Home app, which can be launched from the home screen or through Siri voice commands. The upshot of this HomeKit upgrade—set to be released later in 2016—will be a holistic, all-in-one home automation console, and may be Apple’s first serious threat to the emerging dominance of competing smart-home automation platforms …
7. Belkin WeMo grows up: Nest Learning Thermostat integration
The WeMo smart-home automation ecosystem has been expanding steadily with more supported accessories from parent company Belkin as well as from third-party companies, but to date has not offered the benefit of integration with heating and cooling systems. With a recent upgrade to version 1.15 of the app, WeMo has taken a giant step toward becoming a more formidable force in today’s smart home. And that is largely due to the addition of very smooth integrations with the popular Nest Learning Thermostat through the Works with Nest program …
9. DirecTV Now streaming enhanced with Apple TV deal
On the heels of its launch of the DirectTV Now streaming service, AT&T is offering a number of deals for consumers considering moving their television viewing experience away from traditional cable or satellite TV services. The offers include a free Apple TV 4th Generation box (32 GB version) with a 3-month pre-pay, or a free Amazon Fire TV Stick with a 1-month pre-pay …
10. eBook: Guidebook to Smart-home Technology Volume 1
Let’s face it. Sometimes Googling for what we need takes more time than it should. Certainly, the act of searching can be lighting quick, but what of the result? Often, the meaningful content we seek can be buried well below the browser fold, or spread across multiple web properties and publishers. That’s a growing knowledge chasm eBooks seek to fill. And precisely what we had in mind as we published our latest eBook, Guidebook to Smart-home Technology Volume 1—a complimentary download.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.
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