Google now lets developers write apps for the Assistant on Google Home

Frederic Lardinois for TechCrunch:  Google today announced that all developers (and not just those in its private preview program), can start bringing their applications and services to the Google Assistant, starting with what the company calls “conversation actions” on Google Home. This allows developers to create back-and-forth conversations with users through the Assistant and users can simply start these conversations by using a phrase like “OK Google, talk to Eliza.”

While the Assistant also runs on the Pixel phones and inside the Allo chat app, Google says it plans to bring actions to these other “Assistant surfaces” in the future, but it’s unclear when exactly this will happen.  Cont'd...

9 things Google Home can do that Alexa can't

Taylor Martin for CNet:  Google announced its Amazon Echo competitor back at its I/O developer conference in May. Today, it made Google Home official with arelease date and price.

It also gave us a closer look at how the company plans to compete with the more established household assistant today, Alexa.

While Google has its work cut out in getting broad third-party support that includes other smart-home brands, there is already a healthy list of in-house features Google Home will be capable of out of the gate that Alexa could only hope to add in the future.

Here are nine things Google Home can do that Alexa can't.  Cont'd...

Can Google Catch Up to Amazon and Win the Smart Home Race?

Mathew Ingram for Fortune:  Google is famous for coming to the market late. The search-engine business was well established before it arrived, and yet the company managed to take the lead. It now dominates the category. But can it do the same thing in the smart home?

The web giant is expected to launch a standalone device called simply Google Home on Tuesday, a device that it hopes will become the centerpiece of the smart home, and provide some strong competition for the well-established Amazon Echo. But it will be an uphill battle.  Cont'd...

Six Google Patents describe a new Home Automation System Covering Home Security

Patently Apple:  Late last month the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a series of six Google patents regarding a future home security system that will part of a larger home automation system that will be revealed over time. 
In today's brief non-Apple patent report we cover an overview of Google's six patents relating to a future home security system that will eventually be a part of a greater home automation system. Google's first security system patent filing is titled "Home Security System with Automatic Context-Sensitive Transition to Different Modes."  Full Article:
 

Why Nest's woes are typical of the smart home industry

Hayley Tsukayama for The Washington Post:  Tony Fadell’s decision to step down from the helm of Nest last week came as a surprise but not a big one.

The problems specific to the smart appliance company — which is owned by Google — have been well-documented. But the questions that now loom over Nest aren’t isolated to this one firm, but over the entire smart home industry in general.

Nest, after all, was supposed to be the trailblazer leading the smart home revolution. When Google put down $3.2 billion to buy it in 2014, it appeared to make sense. The company was already a fixture in consumers’ online lives, and the purchase would give Google an entry point into their offline lives. The charismatic Fadell seemed to be the right pioneer, given his product experience at Apple that he could apply to Google’s more open computing vision.  But Nest proved to be a less-than-ideal poster child.  Cont'd...

Google announces Google Home smart hub and upgraded Assistant voice engine

Ryan Whitwam for Extreme Tech:  Google has let Amazon basically own the connected home assistant market for the last year and a half with the Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. Now, Google is leveraging its extensive natural language processing engine to launch Google Home, a connected hub that brings voice commands to your house. Google has also been working on making its system of voice commands more conversational, which it now calls Google Assistant.

Google has had voice search capabilities built into Android phones for years at this point. You can even trigger searches with the “OK Google” hotword. However, this is connected to your phone, which is a personal device with your own apps, settings, and data. A home assistant like the newly announced Google Home (and Amazon Echo) is intended to provide voice features to anyone in the family from anywhere in a room.  Cont'd...

EVRYTHNG Becomes First B2B IoT Platform for Product Manufacturers to Offer Nest Certified SDK

New SDK allows devices operated with EVRYTHNG to implement connectivity with Nest in less than 30 minutes

Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

The Register:  Google Nest is set to brick $300 Revolv home automation hubs after buying out staff and abandoning the project.

The software giant acquired Revolv for its talent in October 2014 and next month will drop support for the smaller company's smart home device.

The decision means that as of May 15th the Revolv hub become paperweights.

A statement on Revolv's site informs customers that their devices are no longer covered by warranties.

Nest execs say in a statement only that Revolv was "a great first step" but that Works with Nest is a "better solution" demanding of its resources.

Chief executive Arlo Gilbert of Texas-based app developer Televero and Revolv customer says the home automation company's move is a "pretty blatant f**k you" to buyers.

"On 15 May, my house will stop working; my landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working," Gilbert says.  Cont'd...

The Mess at Nest Echoes the Mess in the Smart Home

Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  In January 2014, Google (now under the parent umbrella corporation Alphabet) said it would purchase Nest for $3.2 billion, which validated the hopes and dreams of hundreds of startups that were also building connected products for the consumer home.

After the deal was announced, the VC world went mad searching for investments, while larger companies searched for potential acquisition targets. At industry events that year, everyone I ran into with a connected product or a KickStarter was in talks to sell out or score more funds.

But two years later, the reality has set in as entrepreneurs in the space are dealing with a skeptical customer base and the challenges of seeing their grand vision for a connected home get mired in rival standards. Meanwhile, economic concerns are leading tech companies to prepare for everything from a nuclear winter to a mild recession.  Cont'd...

Chromecast Audio Is Now An Inexpensive Hi-Res Wireless Home Audio System

By Leo Markus for ImmortalNews:  Google’s Chromecast Audio just became the inexpensive solution for wirelessly streaming music throughout a home or office with its latest update’s incorporation of multi-room streaming support, Google announced on Thursday. As if multi-room support wasn’t enough for one update, the small WiFi enabled device–which plugs directly into a speaker, allowing it to wirelessly stream music over the radio waves–now offers support for high-resolution audio up to 96KHz/24bit lossless audio playback. Google launched Chromecast Audio just a couple of months ago as an inexpensive way to connect speakers to streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora and obviously Google Play Music.
The device, which costs $35, now allows you to blast the same song throughout multiple rooms — effectively grouping speakers together to create an expansive listening environment. In order to do so, users employ the latest Chromecast app, which allows for groups to be setup.  Cont'd...
 

Linux's domination of home automation gizmos continues

Eric Brown for Linux Gizmos:  The Linux-dominated home automation business is still a fragmented free-for-all, but it’s also beginning to consolidate, with far fewer startups in 2015 compared to recent years.
This month we saw several major product announcements from established players related to Linux. First, Google’s Nest Labs announced the first device partners for its Weave home automation protocol using the Thread networking standard. Now Samsung, which began shipping its first Linux-based SmartThings hub last month, released a $249 sensor kit built around the hub. Meanwhile, in the larger Internet of Things world that includes industrial, as well as home automation, the Linux Foundation’s AllSeen Alliance announced a new certification program and security stack. In addition, Amazon unveiled an AWS IoT cloud platform available with starter kits based on Linux hacker boards .  Cont'd...

Nest Gets Into the Smart-Lock Game by Going Old School

CADE METZ for Wired:  Today, Yale, the company, unveiled a digital lock that taps into the “smart home” system designed by Nest. The Google-owned Nest makes Internet-connected thermostats, security cameras, and smoke detectors that also handle carbon monoxide, but that’s not all. It also offers a variety of tools that let other companies connect their own devices with the various Nest gadgets. The idea is that you can control all these devices with a single smartphone app—and that each device can talk to the others. You can, say, set your security camera to start recording when someone opens your door lock—or program your door lock to say something when you step into a house full of carbon monoxide.
But the new Yale lock, dubbed Linus, is a little different from other devices. It’s the first third-party device designed to communicate with Nest gadgets directly, via a wireless network set up inside your home. Previously, such devices could only reach Nest gear in a roundabout way, over the Internet. And this has its drawbacks.  Cont'd...

CHROMECAST AUDIO COULD ARRIVE SEPT. 29, WILL WI-FI ENABLE YOUR HOME SPEAKERS

By Chris Leo Palermino for Digital Trends:   While we reported about the Chromecast 2 earlier today, it sounds like that’s not the only Chromecast that Google will be debuting on Sept. 29. The tech giant is also working on Chromecast Audio, a separate device focused on “Wi-Fi-enabling the speakers in your home,” according to 9to5Google. Allegedly called “Hendrix” internally, the music-focused Chromecast will attach to speakers via a standard 3.5mm headphone cable.

The new device will allow users to listen to music and other audio like podcasts (and maybe even online radio?) via wi-fi from Android devices or the Chrome browser. Chromecast currently supports Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and — as of recently — Spotify. It will have ‘multi-room support,’ which means that it may have the ability to play the same audio through multiple speakers.  Cont'd...

Branto makes it possible to monitor and control your home in real-time by connecting with your smartphone and Google Glass

ANNA JOHANSSON for PSFK:  Branto is an orb that controls multiple aspects of your home through smart technology. Tired of seeing so many smart hubs that were unattractive and only worked if you bought all new gadgets and appliances, the Branto team set out to solve this problem. They created a sphere-shaped device with the power to monitor your home through a 360-degree camera and speaker.

It connects to your devices to provide full-time telepresence, video conferencing, security, infrared control, audio streaming, and smart appliance control through your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee connection.

However, you don't always need Wi-Fi in order to enjoy the perks of your smart orb. It works even if your Wi-Fi goes down, thanks to its ability to connect to your cellular data, meaning that your home will never be without security just because someone unplugged the Wi-Fi.

It can also connect to third-party devices, such as Nest thermostats, Phillips LED televisions, and your lighting systems.

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this technology is its ability to connect to Google Glass. This goes beyond the ability to control your home from your smartphone, opening the door to a future age that the world might not be quite ready for.  Cont'd...

Google's new Wi-Fi router sleek, but has a few hiccups

Most people don’t think about their home Wi-Fi router unless they are (A) installing it, or (B) undergoing severe digital withdrawal because the Internet is down and they need to hit reset.

But Google wants you to think about its new OnHub home Wi-Fi router all the time. The Mountain View tech giant designed OnHub to be proudly displayed out in the open next to your kid’s photos, not hidden in a dark, dusty spot under a desk.

Is that a reason to spend $199 on an OnHub, which goes on sale online Monday, if you don’t need a new router? Probably not. But if you are looking to upgrade a worn-out device, Google’s first entry into the router race is a compelling choice.

Not to be overlooked, the OnHub is also Google’s answer to Apple’s equally designer-friendly AirPort Extreme Base Station. With both companies battling for an early lead in the emerging market for smart-home devices, having a router that’s the center of it all could become a key beachhead.

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