The week in smart home: New Chromecast incoming and more

All the smaller stories from the week

There's a new Chromecast on the way
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Smart home ignorance season is upon us, and the only line of defence is a healthy vaccination of The Week in Smart Home, our weekly roundup of the stuff you might have missed from the past seven days.

And what a week it’s been. Amazon launched a new 4K Fire TV Stick, Google’s Assistant app got an update (as did Alexa’s), and Nest’s Thermostat E finally made it to UK shores.

But hey, what of the stuff that didn’t make the headlines? Here’s what else went down this week.

New Chromecast kit incoming

Google's holding a huge event on October 9 - calendar fans, that's next week - and it looks like a refreshed Chromecast is on the agenda. Someone on Reddit claims they were sold a new Chromecast before the embargo lifted - as spotted by Android Police. Apparently Best Buy is already stocking the new device and one store accidentally put the refreshed TV dongle on its shelf early.

GroveStreetHomie, posting on Reddit, said that the cashier sold the device anyway, despite it not being in the system. As the user was unable to set up the new Chromecast (the app will need to be updated by Google first) we don't know a lot about what's new, but it's safe to say it's not going to be a huge update. It does look a little different, with a new matte finish and more subtle 'G' logo emblazoned on the front.

Slashing the odds that GroveStreetHomie is pulling a fast one on us, someone else on Reddit posted a photo of a new Google Smart TV kit, which bundles a Google Home Mini with the refreshed Chromecast.

Smart assistants still have an accent problem

Speaking of the UK, it appears Siri, Alexa and co are having troubles with accents. Spike Digital asked 2,000 people across the UK how they get along with the current lineup of smart assistants, and found that a whopping 45.3% of Welsh people struggle to be understood.

The second most misheard group were Northern Irelanders - 29.6% of them struggled to be heard clearly. That’s, err, not great. We will point out that 2,000 people isn’t a huge pool, but certainly enough to be telling.

Read this: How people who live alone use Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant

And none of it is surprising: speech recognition tech tends to be trained on “General American” and British “Received Pronunciation” i.e. homogenous groups - but they also learn over time. The more people that speak to them, the more the data set grows and the better these assistants will become at recognizing different accents and dialects. Or at least that’s the idea.

2nd-gen Echo Dot going cheap

There’s a new Echo Dot arriving on 11 October, and Amazon is clearing some shelf space by putting the current, second-generation Dot on sale. You can head to Amazon and pick one up for $29.99, which is a $20 saving. Not bad.

It’s also $20 cheaper than the new version, so considering the smarts are the same, there’s still good reason to buy one. You won’t get the improved sound quality or design of the new Dot, but the Alexa experience is just as good. Plus, you can pair it with a better-sounding speaker if you wish.

Swann’s fighting crime with two new cameras

October is National Crime Prevention Month. That doesn’t mean you can go out and do crimes the rest of the year - but it does mean we should all spend these 31 days thinking more carefully about how we protect our homes.

Swann wants us to take a bite out of crime by buying one of its new smart cameras. It’s launched a couple of new models - one for outdoors, one for indoors - which both record full HD, 1080p video and can livestream to your phone. There’s Alexa support too, and as the company introduced Google Assistant support for its 4K camera earlier this year, we reckon it's safe to bet it will hit these eventually too.

The Indoor Security Camera costs $129.95 and the outdoor model is $269.95. Both are available now.

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    google    smart home

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