CARROT Weather Update Sees Redesigned Weather Maps With 12 Layers, Storm Tracking, More

Michael Potuck:

Popular iOS app CARROT Weather has released an update that brings users more features, including a refreshed weather maps design with a dozen layers, storm tracking, forecast sharing, and more.

First up is a totally new redesign of the weather maps. Altogether there are 12 layers including: future radar, tropical storms, lightning strikes, visibility, wind speed, snow depth, and more. The developer notes that some of the features require an Ultrapremium subscription.

Another update sees ten new secret location missions, with the difficulty being dialed down just a bit. Users will also be able to redact their location when sharing CARROT’s quirky forecasts with others.

HomePass for Storing Homekit Setup Codes

Zac Hall:

Deciding how to manage all of those eight-digit setup codes is one challenge every HomeKit enthusiast faces. Accessory makers warn that misplacing codes can make it impossible to set up devices again in the future, and not all accessories include a copy of the code on devices.

HomePass is a brand new iPhone and iPad app designed to solve that problem by easily storing all of those eight-digit codes for you, and creating new entries in the app is super easy.

Simply grant HomePass access to your HomeKit configuration and the app can detect what smart home accessories are already connected. From here you can find the correct accessory description which includes the room assigned through HomeKit, then reference your setup label to manually type in the eight-digit code.

HomePass includes built-in iCloud, too, so your codes are synced between iPhone and iPad and automatically backed up in case you lose your iPhone. After accumulating over 40 HomeKit accessories over the years, locating all of those setup codes was a pain after resetting my HomeKit configuration and starting over after moving last year.

Seems worthwhile indeed.

Amazon Acquiring Ring

Michael Potuck:

GeekWire shared today that Amazon has come to an agreement to buy Ring. This will fast track Amazon in branching out its smart home products, but Ring has just confirmed that is will still be bringing HomeKit support to some of its products! Statements from Ring about incoming HomeKit support go back to 2016.

As for current HomeKit enabled smart cameras, options are pretty limited. Logitech’s Circle 2, D-Link’s Omni (review), and Netgear’s Arlo Baby Camera (review) are some of the top picks.

Amazon is expected to retain the Ring branding, but will be able to deeply integrate its Alexa digital assistant among other key services. Ring products already had Alexa support, but this acquisition will no doubt only increase that functionality.

HomePod Diary

Ben Lovejoy:

Siri commands I find particularly useful with HomePod:

Who is this?
Add this to playlist X
Play more from this artist
Play more like this
Like this
Dislike this

Useful to know especially add to playlist and like and dislike.

The Telegraph’s Apple HomePod Review:

James Titcomb:

At the moment, there’s no support for two speakers in stereo, or multi-room, but Apple says this is going to come later this year with a software update. I experienced two speakers together in a demo, and the sound was truly spectacular.

Great little tidbit here suggesting the software update coming later this year could be better than expected.

Shazam with Siri on HomePod to identify songs playing in the room

Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

On HomePod, I think these same phrases are supposed to work. However, because the HomePod is almost always playing tracks, asking Siri on HomePod ‘what song is this?’ will just tell you about the song that the device is currently playing.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to unambiguously get Siri to use Shazam. Just walk over to your HomePod and say ‘Hey Siri, Shazam this’.

The HomePod will then say something to the effect of ‘I’m listening’. After a few seconds, as long as it can hear the song in the room, it will reply by saying ‘It sounds like [sound name] by [artist]’.

What’s really nice is that the HomePod will remember the context for the follow up. With a successful match, you can then say ‘Hey Siri, play it’. It will then start playing the matched track from your library or from Apple Music, assuming you are subscribed.

I tested this just by holding up my iPhone playing a track from YouTube and it worked perfectly. Thanks to the array of microphones inside HomePod, you don’t have to be super close to it either.

In party situations, this is kind of a handy feature to know about if you just want to get a certain track playing from someone else’s device that doesn’t necessarily have an iPhone or isn’t streaming from Apple Music.

Using Shazam is probably the quickest way to go from watching a VEVO music video from YouTube on your phone to playing the song on the HomePod.

Good tip for when another device is playing music near the HomePod.

The Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy

Sarah Buhr for TechCrunch:

According to Cardiogram founder Brandon Ballinger’s latest clinical study, the Apple Watch can detect diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease with an 85 percent accuracy.

The study is part of the larger DeepHeart study with Cardiogram and UCSF. This particular study used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users and was able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes by using the Watch’s heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor other fitness bands using Android Wear also integrate into their systems.

In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study showed that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension. This led to the impetus to use the Watch’s heart rate sensor to see if it could accurately detect a diabetic patient.

It’s studies like these that show that the Apple Watch has a massive future in monitoring individual health for the wearer like no other product has and the fact that you can respond to messages and notifications from your iPhone is secondary to this breakthrough device. Where has there ever been a mass-market device that monitors your health like this that more and more people are wearing from an everyday wearable accessory like your Watch? Fitbts are similar but not to the extent of the Apple Watch especially when it comes to how popular they are.

HomePod Likely to Support HomeKit Scenes for Muting Siri, More

Michael Steeber:

New icons discovered in the latest build of iOS 11.2.5 have revealed some of the functionality that may arrive with the release of the elusive HomePod in upcoming weeks. Specifically, users may be able to create custom scenes with support for muting the speaker’s “Hey Siri” capabilities.

In an image shared by Filipe Espósito on Twitter, iconography buried in the assets for Apple’s Home app for iPhone seem to show a HomePod next to a muted Siri glyph. Some of the icons contain the text “siri-off” in their filenames, giving further weight to the discovery.

Like other modern Apple devices, HomePod contains always-on voice functionality that allows users to simply speak to activate Siri at any time. However, in certain situations, users may want to disable the function for privacy. One could imagine a “party” scene where your home’s lights change colors, the room temperature changes, and Siri is muted for the living room HomePod.

In addition to the ability to mute Siri, Espósito suggests that strings found in the app’s code indicate that HomePod will be capable of supporting multiple unique voices, meaning that more than one person could control Siri and expect personalized results.