The week in smart home: It looks like Spotify is building a smart speaker

Spotify secrets, Assistant upgrades and some tasty deals

The week in smart home news
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Last week it was Facebook rumours, this week it's Spotify - is there a tech company on the planet that isn't building a smart speaker? (Bet Snap has something suitably hipster planned).

In this week's instalment of smart home news, we dig into what the streaming service might be working on as well as rounding up the biggest news from around The Ambient and the rest of the web; throwing out some suggestions for Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant users and shaking the Amazon tree to see what smart home deals fall out.

The week in smart home: It looks like Spotify is building a smart speaker

Spotify's semi-secret speaker plans

Spotify is hiring operations and project managers for its hardware plans and the internet is getting all excited. We first thought to expect some sort of music-based wearable but with Spotify's deal with Samsung for offline playback on Gear watches, this might now be counted out.

Instead, we can get our hopes up based on a namecheck of Amazon Echo in April 2017 when Spotify first starting hiring its hardware teams to build a new category "akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles." All we know is that it will be "internet connected hardware" and that Spotify is "on its way" to creating it.

That's not it in the main pic, by the way, that's a pair of Nocs NS2 speakers which support Spotify Connect. With the recent release of the Apple HomePod, many reviewers pointed to the lack of voice controlled Spotify - via Spotify's own Connect technology which the Echo uses - as the fatal flaw.

Spotify's streaming service still has more paying subscribers and users than Apple Music, which is baked into the HomePod, but Apple Music could take over in the US this year. If Spotify were to launch a smart speaker which could control any Spotify Connect speakers in a multi-room setup, then we'd really be talking as Spotify has already done the legwork of getting high end speaker makers on board.

The week in smart home: It looks like Spotify is building a smart speaker

Archos joins the smart display fray

It's MWC next week AKA Mobile World Congress, a big technology show in Barcelona (poor us). We're not expecting too much big smart home news but we do now know that we'll be seeing at least one more Google Assistant powered smart display in the form of the Archos Hello.

Now, Assistant voice controls aren't specifically confirmed yet but it's always listening, runs on Android Oreo and it looks very similar to the Lenovo Smart Display we've already seen this year - complete with a kickstand. The essential idea is that these are smart speakers with screens for video chat, displaying information (maps, recipes) you've requested etc. The Archos Hello will come in both 7-inch (€129.99) and 8.4-inch (€179.99) sizes and go on sale this summer.

The week in smart home: It looks like Spotify is building a smart speaker

New skills for Google, Cortana & Hive

If you already own smart home kit, the most exciting news isn't what's being launched but how your speakers, cameras and lights are being upgraded. So this week we got a whole dump of upgrades for Google Assistant to look forward to - specifically support for languages and multi-lingual use plus location based reminders on Google Home so you'll soon be able to say "Hey Google, remind me to get Mini Eggs when I get to the shop". Routines are coming very soon too which is another biggie.

Also getting a shot in the arm - the Nest Cam IQ Indoor which now doubles as both a smart security camera and a Google Assistant smart speaker.

Elsewhere, Microsoft's Cortana platform got an IFTTT update as well as the roll out of support for devices from TP-Link, Honeywell, Lifx and Ecobee. That'll help it narrow the gap, if not catch up, with Alexa in the smart home.

And finally, Hive announced a revamp to Hive Actions, its neat recipe builder which can link together smart bulbs, sensors and environmental conditions.

The week in smart home: It looks like Spotify is building a smart speaker

Deals of the week

Here's our hand picked deals on The Ambient recommended smart home kit.

US: 15% off Ring Video Doorbell 2 - Shave some money off a really popular smart home device which our co-founder Paul Lamkin says is our top connected doorbell pick for its ease of use, 1080p streaming and removable battery option. Check out our Ring Video Doorbell 2 review.

UK: 30% off Lumie Bodyclock Go 75 down to £49.99 - If you read our in-depth feature on the hidden powers of smart lighting this week, you'll know that the lights in your home can affect your sleeping patterns - for better or worse. Alarm clocks like the Lumie can wake you up with gradually increasing natural light.

UK: 20% off Netgear Arlo Pro security system with Siren 5 down to 774.99 - We haven't tested the whole Netgear Arlo Pro security system yet but it's a trusted name in smart home tech and the fact this deal could save you hundreds of pounds makes it worth a look. This price is for the full five camera kit but there are currently deals on the cheaper packages too.

TAGGED    smart home    speakers

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