The week in smart home: Facebook's smart speaker to launch next week

A look back at the last seven days

Facebook Portal ready for launch

Alexa, Alexa, Alexa. It's all we've been hearing about this week, with Amazon unleashing an army of new devices at its big Seattle event. We were there to see it all happen, and if you've lost track of all the announcements, fear not - we have you covered.

But while this week was a bit of an Amazon-fest, other things were happening: Sophie checked out the smart home tech on show at the London Design Festival; OnePlus vowed to shake up the smart TV; and we learned Amazon and Google have a new competitor to watch out for.

And plenty more besides. Below, we've rounded up some of the other stories and rumors doing the rounds this week. Enjoy.

The week in smart home: Facebook's smart speaker to launch this week

Facebook smart speaker set for announcement next week

The Facebook Portal smart speaker may at long last surface, with a report from Cheddar claiming that the “Portal” video chat device will be revealed next week.

As you might recall, the video speaker - said to be similar to Amazon’s Echo Show - was supposedly going to get its big entrance at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in May. But the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as revelations of Russia interfering with the 2016 elections, caused the company to rethink plans to rollout a smart speaker with so much fear around its user privacy.

According to Cheddar, Portal will now come with a privacy shutter for the camera, in response to increasing suspicion towards Facebook’s privacy. The Portal camera will be able to recognize people in the frame and follow them around the room, Cheddar claims, while there’s Alexa integration too for watching videos, getting news briefs and, by the sound of it, doing all the things you do on the Echo Show.

Apparently employees have been testing Portal in their homes for several months and have even shown it to major retailers.


The week in smart home: Facebook's smart speaker to launch this week

Kids are driving the smart home

A new study commissioned by the Home Depot has found that having a kid will influence your smart home purchase decisions. More than three quarters of the people asked said that kids were their biggest reason for purchasing smart home gadgets. Not just kids, either: millennials and baby boomers apparently too spur their parents to buy smart home tech, reports Digital Trends.

Security was the second biggest driving force after kids, with more than one in four people buying smart home tech to keep their home secure, while nearly 20% bought devices for the sake of having more convenient control over their home.

90% of people surveyed said that they believe smart home devices make life easier for aging adults by automating tasks around the home.


The week in smart home: Facebook's smart speaker to launch this week

Audi adds Alexa to E-Tron and other car models

Amazon’s new Echo Auto can make any car Alexa-enabled, but certain automakers are also baking the assistant into their cars. Audi joined the growing list of car makers this week announcing Alexa voice control is coming to select models in 2019.

It will start with the new E-Tron electric SUV in North America and Europe next year, with other models to follow. Alexa will be integrated into infotainment system so you won’t need to connect your phone as you will with the Echo Auto. You’ll be able to ask Alexa to play music, audiobooks, or to add things to your shopping lists. Ford, BMW and Toyota have also been adding Alexa to their cars, and we expect more manufacturers to follow.


The week in smart home: Facebook's smart speaker to launch this week

Siri can now track your Tile

With the arrival of iOS 12 this week came Siri Shortcuts, a new way for Apple's assistant to work with third-party apps. One of those is Tile, with Siri now joining Alexa and Google Assistant in being able to locate your lost keys (again).

To get it set up you'll need to go to the Tile iPhone app and select Siri from the options screen. You can then record a phrase to command Siri to find your lost valuables. Just make sure you're running iOS 12 and the latest version of the Tile app.


Top smart home deals

Every week we scour the web for the best smart home deals – check out our pick of this week's biggest bargains below.


TAGGED   smart home

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