Welcome to our round up of the top smart home stories of the week. This is where we round up some of the week's biggest happenings you might have missed, as well as point out the best deals on smart home tech, and some nifty tricks to try out as well.
As ever, if there' something you'd like to see from us, drop us a comment or an email.
This week's top stories...
Apple HomePod goes on sale
The long-awaited Apple HomePod finally went on-sale this week, as it hit markets in the US, UK and Australia. We have our HomePod and are preparing our special The Ambient look at its mix of features, but early reviews from Apple’s inner circle of reviewers certainly point to consistent themes.
The Loop waxed lyrical on the HomePod’s sound quality, which is certainly key to Apple’s pitch. But how does it fare as an alternative to Amazon Echo or Google Home? Early signs about Siri’s suitability as a smart home speaker aren’t too positive – the NYT called it “embarrassing.” We’ll certainly be examining this area closely in our own Apple HomeKit set-ups.
Alexa "exceeds" sales expectations
Alexa is exceeding even the most optimistic sales targets at Amazon, according to Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s head honcho was speaking on an earnings call this week, and wooed analysts and investors with tales of immense sales:
"Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them," Bezos said this week, before telling investors that the company was ready to “double-down.” If doubling down means going big on marketing, then Amazon has already gotten started. It has prime-time at the Super Bowl last weekend with a star-studded advert, with a cameo from Bezos himself.
“There are now over 30,000 Amazon Alexa skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa,” Bezos continued. And with such huge support, it’s currently leading the charge against Google Assistant and Siri. It’s a huge start for Amazon, but with Google starting to leverage its enormous install bases of Android smartphones and TVs, it’s game on for control of your smart home.
Check out our essential guide to Amazon Alexa.
Nest rejoins Google – what does that mean?
It’s been an up-and-down relationship between Google and Nest, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the search giant paid a whopping $3.2 billion back in 2014. Nest has been a leading light of the smart home world, way back before Alexa.
Google never really leveraged Nest, annexing it under its Alphabet umbrella in 2015 and allowing Tony Fadell to leave in 2016. But now Nest is back in the company’s good books – back under Google and part of the company’s hardware division.
Check out our ultimate guide to the Nest ecosystem.
So what does it all mean? Well, there’s no evidence much will change, but we’ll be watching the alignment between Google Assistant and Nest closely. Relationships between Amazon and Google haven’t been great recently – YouTube has been pulled from the Amazon Echo Show – so let’s hope that the experience of Alexa+Nest users isn’t negatively affected.
Deal of the week...
Our pick of the week over in the States is this deal at Amazon to save $50 on an Amazon Echo Show. Alexa with a screen is a great addition to the home, and this is a great saving, bringing the total price to an attractive $150.
In the UK, the most attractive deal was 20% off the price of an Amazon Echo Dot. If you're looking to add Alexa into more places in your home, or get started with a voice assistant, chances don't come cheaper than this.