Belkin’s iOS-friendly WeMo home automation line took another big step forward today with the announcement at CES in Las Vegas of a new line of sensors. For those who want to create a subscription-free security system, the new devices are just what the doctor ordered. The sensors are battery-powered with a one-year battery life, perfect for easy installation by anyone. Pricing at this time is undetermined, and Belkin says that the new products will arrive in the second half of 2015.
First up is the WeMo Door and Window Sensor, which is a magnetic contact switch used to determine if a door is opened or closed. This is perfect for making sure that doors and windows are closed when leaving the house, or for setting up rules to automate other processes when a door or window is opened or closed. Need to find out if a specific window or door is open or closed? Just use the free WeMo app to find out.
Next is the WeMo Keychain Sensor, a keychain fob that tells the system when someone arrives at or leaves a home. A button on the sensor can be set up to control any other WeMo device when pressed – perfect if you’ve set up a WeMo Maker Switch to open your garage door.
The WeMo Alarm Sensor is designed to listen for other battery-powered alarms – smoke or fire sensors, CO monitors, water leak detectors – and then notify you via the app, notifications, or text alerts when those devices are beeping. With the proper alarms, the sensor, and the WeMo app, homeowners can contact emergency responders or neighbors immediately in case of fires or leaks.
A popular device for home security system is a room motion sensor using infrared heat signatures to detect human movement in a room. The WeMo Room Motion Sensor is immune to pets, designed to reduce the possibility of false alarms, and can be set to work with other WeMo devices when motion is detected.
Finally, the WeMo Water with Echo Technology is quite intriguing. The device is attached to one point on a home plumbing system and senses and analyzes the pressure change vibrations caused by turning on a faucet or flushing a toilet. WeMo water is designed to calculate home water consumption, duration and cost, and can alert users to leaks in a plumbing system. WeMo Water is current undergoing field trials and will be on display at the 2015 Internation CES.
As always, TUAW will be reviewing the new devices when they become available as part of our continuing – and growing – coverage of connected devices in the Apple ecosystem.
Belkin’s Wemo products already integrate with SmartThings but these new product announcements look like they want to expand and control your control your house to the level of SmartThings. All good for the consumer either way.
To kick off this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, SmartThings CEO, Alex Hawkinson, joined Samsung’s president and CEO, BK Yoon, on stage to deliver an opening keynote address focused on the future of the Internet of Things.
Today, on behalf of Samsung, I’m making a promise: Our IoT components and devices will be open.”
Yoon began by reaffirming Samsung’s commitment to help SmartThings build a completely open smart home platform, stating, “Today, on behalf of Samsung, I’m making a promise: Our IoT components and devices will be open. We will ensure that others can easily connect to our devices. That’s why last August, when SmartThings became a member of the Samsung family, we promised to keep its platform open.”
Hawkinson then took the stage to unveil some exciting new announcements for SmartThings customers, developers, and anyone who’d like to easily turn their home into a smart home. Here are three things to expect:
New SmartThings Hub and Sensors
In Q2 of this year, we’ll begin selling the next generation of the SmartThings Hub and sensors.
The new SmartThings Hub includes a more powerful processor and local app engine, built-in backup battery power, and expanded cellular connectivity. This will enable SmartThings to continue operating in the event of a power or Internet outage.
The new Hub also expands connectivity options to include additional wireless protocols such as Bluetooth Smart, providing customers with the widest range of devices supported by any smart home platform.
We’re also updating our family of sensors with modified versions of the SmartSense Presence, SmartSense Motion, and SmartSense Multi sensors. At roughly one-third the size of our first-generation devices, the new SmartSense Motion sensor and SmartSense Multi sensor pack all of the power of SmartThings’ current devices, while offering a more minimal presence in your smart home. And the new SmartSense Presence sensor features a more durable and compact plastic enclosure.
New Optional Premium Service
We’re also launching an optional premium service that will offer customers advanced incident management control, and improved home monitoring through DVR video streaming.
This new service enables SmartThings customers to automatically send a text to or call friends, neighbors, or loved ones they pre-select whenever a problem is detected that needs immediate attention–such as a flood or fire. Customers will be able to grant trusted contacts access to their smart devices so that these friends or neighbors will be automatically notified of a problem requiring attention at the customer’s home, and also able to easily resolve it.
The premium service will also allow customers the option to see what’s happening inside their home 24/7 by offering live DVR video captured by SmartThings-compatible cameras. Customers can keep track of activity happening in certain areas of their home, or opt to receive video clips whenever certain events take place in or around their home.
New Integrations on the Open Platform
A plethora of new devices will soon join the many connected products that already work on SmartThings’ open platform. These include:
• Netgear and D-Link cameras
• Somfy window shades
• Racchio water irrigation system
• Chamberlain garage door openers
• August locks
• Weatherbug climate data
• Samsung smart appliances
I am looking forward to seeing how SmartThings integrates with these 3rd party manufacturers and although Samsung recently purchased the company, SmartThings continues to develop for multiple platforms.
Mobile battery case maker Mophie announced today three new versions of its popular Juice Pack charging case designed specifically for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Mophie has designed new versions of its Juice Pack Air and Juice Pack Plus cases for iPhone 6 as well as a single model of its Juice Pack case for iPhone 6 Plus. The new Mophie Juice Pack lineup starts at $99.95 with color matching options available for each iPhone.
As others have commented – The Mophie Juice Pack case on the iPhone 6 Plus will make the phone huge whether that is a good thing or a bad thing to you. Battery life is already great on the 6 Plus but with a Mophie attached, it will be days before you need to typically recharge.
If you needed any more confirmation that Windows Phone is dead in the water, two of its most high profile supporters have abandoned it for the iPhone.
Veteran Microsoft journalists Ed Bott and Tom Warren both published essays this week in which they criticized Windows Phone for its shortcomings and announced that they’ve stopped using Windows Phones personally. Citing a lack of carrier and third-party app support, both agreed that Windows Phone has missed its shot at being a real competitor in the smartphone market.
Over at ZDNet, Bott explained that a lack of support from Verizon is the main reason he ditched his Lumia Icon for an iPhone 6 Plus.
Because of Windows Phone’s almost nonexistent market share, he argued that carriers have no reason to negotiate with Microsoft and maintain a good experience for its users:
Thanks to Microsoft’s minuscule market share (small single-digit percentages in the U.S.), the carriers have almost no interest in collaborating with it on mobile devices. And Microsoft has almost no leverage when negotiating with carriers. The resulting not-so-virtuous circle is what stacks the deck against the Windows Phone platform and makes the experience so frustrating for the few who actually use it.
The reality of how poorly Windows Phone devices are updated is in stark contrast to how Apple can roll out a new iOS version and have it available on nearly every device no matter the carrier.
Bott, who has covered Microsoft for decades and written books on the company, also lamented how Microsoft released its flagship Lumia Icon phone in February and then stopped selling it in October. That would be like Apple halting iPhone 6 sales in May.
A real shame because the user interface of the OS is gorgeous and unique but if its not selling and developers are not supporting their apps enough for it, it doesn’t matter how good it is, there is potentially no mainstream future for it.
MoonPig, which is owned by online photo printing company PhotoBox, said in a statement that “we are aware of the claims made this morning regarding the security of customer data within our apps.
“We can assure our customers that all password and payment information is and has always been safe. The security of your shopping experience at Moonpig is extremely important to us and we are investigating the detail behind today’s report as a priority. As a precaution, our apps will be unavailable for a time whilst we conduct these investigations and we will work to resume a normal service as soon as possible.
The headline is a little misleading – personal details have not been (as yet) posted to the internet. The capability to do that has been exposed by one person which Moonpig are now working hard to fix. It may be worth changing your password and perhaps removing/changing you default payment method on your account but no immediate panic it would appear.
Jeff Williams email;
As you know, Apple is dedicated to the advancement of human rights and equality around the world. We are honest about the challenges we face and we work hard to make sure that people who make our products are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Last night, the BBC’s Panorama program called those values into question. Like many of you, Tim and I were deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way.
I’d like to give you facts and perspective, all of which we shared with the BBC in advance, but were clearly missing from their program.
Panorama showed some of the shocking conditions around tin mining in Indonesia. Apple has publicly stated that tin from Indonesia ends up in our products, and some of that tin likely comes from illegal mines. Here are the facts:
Tens of thousands of artisanal miners are selling tin through many middlemen to the smelters who supply to component suppliers who sell to the world. The government is not addressing the issue, and there is widespread corruption in the undeveloped supply chain. Our team visited the same parts of Indonesia visited by the BBC, and of course we are appalled by what’s going on there.
Apple has two choices: We could make sure all of our suppliers buy tin from smelters outside of Indonesia, which would probably be the easiest thing for us to do and would certainly shield us from criticism. But it would be the lazy and cowardly path, because it would do nothing to improve the situation for Indonesian workers or the environment since Apple consumes a tiny fraction of the tin mined there. We chose the second path, which is to stay engaged and try to drive a collective solution.
We spearheaded the creation of an Indonesian Tin Working Group with other technology companies. Apple is pushing to find and implement a system that holds smelters accountable so we can influence artisanal mining in Indonesia. It could be an approach such as “bagging and tagging” legally mined material, which has been successful over time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We are looking to drive similar results in Indonesia, which is the right thing to do.
Panorama also made claims about our commitment to working conditions in our factories. We know of no other company doing as much as Apple does to ensure fair and safe working conditions, to discover and investigate problems, to fix and follow through when issues arise, and to provide transparency into the operations of our suppliers.
I want you to know that more than 1400 of your Apple coworkers are stationed in China to manage our manufacturing operations. They are in the factories constantly — talented engineers and managers who are also compassionate people, trained to speak up when they see safety risks or mistreatment. We also have a team of experts dedicated solely to driving compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct across our vast supply chain.
In 2014 alone, our Supplier Responsibility team completed 630 comprehensive, in-person audits deep into our supply chain. These audits include face-to-face interviews with workers, away from their managers, in their native language. Sometimes critics point to the discovery of problems as evidence that the process isn’t working. The reality is that we find violations in every audit we have ever performed, no matter how sophisticated the company we’re auditing. We find problems, we drive improvement, and then we raise the bar.
Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are just a few examples:
Several years ago, the vast majority of workers in our supply chain worked in excess of 60 hours, and 70+ hour workweeks were typical. After years of slow progress and industry excuses, Apple decided to attack the problem by tracking the weekly hours of over one million workers, driving corrective actions with our suppliers and publishing the results on our website monthly — something no other company had ever done. It takes substantial effort, and we have to weed out false reporting, but it’s working. This year, our suppliers have achieved an average of 93% compliance with our 60-hour limit. We can still do better. And we will.
Our auditors were the first to identify and crack down on a ring of unscrupulous labor brokers who were holding workers’ passports and forcing them to pay exorbitant fees. To date, we have helped workers recoup $20 million in excessive payments like these.
We’ve gone far beyond auditing and corrective actions by creating educational programs for workers in the same facilities where they make our products. More than 750,000 people have taken advantage of these college-level courses and enrichment programs, and the feedback we get from students is inspiring.
I will not dive into every issue raised by Panorama in this note, but you can rest assured that we take all allegations seriously, and we investigate every claim. We know there are a lot of issues out there, and our work is never done. We will not rest until every person in our supply chain is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
If you’d like to learn more about our Supplier Responsibility program, I encourage you and our customers to visit our website at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.
Thanks for your time and your support.
When Apple released iOS 8.1, the company included beta access to its new iCloud Photo Library service. With iCloud Photo Library, you can store all your photos in iCloud with no limits, unlike the traditional Photo Stream we’ve been accustomed to for the past few years. As long as you have enough iCloud storage, iCloud Photo Library will save all your photos. But what happens to your regular Photo Stream when you enable iCloud Photo Library? And more importantly, where did all your synced albums go? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more!
An overview of the differences between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream
There are a few key differences between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream that you need to remember. Before we start: It’s important to note that at this time iCloud Photo Library is still in beta form; as such, we recommend always backing up any photos you plan to store on the service. Okay, that caveat over with, it’s time to break down what each service offers and how they differ. Here’s a brief overview:
Regular Photo Stream:
Only stores your most recent 1000 photos or the last 30 days of images, whichever is greater
Does not use your iCloud storage allotment
Compatible across all devices including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC
Stores web-optimized versions of your photos, which may degrade quality
Does not upload and sync videos
You can still sync photos and albums from your Mac or PC via iTunes when Photo Stream is enabled
iCloud Photo Library:
Stores all your photos and personal video and has no limits as long as you have the iCloud storage space to support it
Uses your iCloud storage allotment
Accessible on iPhone, iPad, and online via iCloud.com; a new Photos app for Mac is coming in early 2015, and presumably iCloud for Windows will receive access around that time as well
Stores full-resolution photos on the server and on your devices and supports many file formats including JPG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and others
Uploads and syncs videos as well as photos
You can not sync albums and photos from your Mac or PC via iTunes when using iCloud Photo Library, and any existing albums will be removed when you enable the service
I’ve enabled iCloud Photo Library, my Photo Stream is completely gone! Why?!
Your Photo Stream isn’t technically gone. Since iCloud Photo Library now stores all your photos instead of just the most recent 1000 or last 30 days, it’d be confusing to divide up your Photo Stream and Camera Roll. As such, anything that appears in All Photos is backed up to iCloud Photo Library and available on any iOS device with iCloud Photo Library enabled.
A good explanation from Allyson on the new Photo changes iOS 8. The key here is really to switch all devices to iCloud Photo Library and discard the old Photo Stream way of managing your photos.
If you’ve ever dreamed of using an Xbox One controller to play games on your Mac, today is your lucky day — thanks to a new application which recently appeared on GitHub.
Created by user Guilherme Araújo, all you have have to do to use the controller is to open his code in Xcode and run it.
However, the company is introducing a range of new features, including a new built-in music player that allows Shazam users who subscribe to premium streaming services such as Rdio and Spotify to play the tracks they have identified within Shazam itself. The new Spotify integration – which is available immediately to iOS users and will be rolled out to Android users in the coming weeks – also allows users to have all their Shazams automatically added to a Spotify playlist, or choose a specific playlist to add tracks to.
Very useful feature for Spotify users – to automatically add the track to a playlist. I like this.