The “why” and “how” to get started with smart home automation.
Normally I do a tech gift-guide every year, but I’ve received requests from other groups to put together a list for them… here they are 😉
One month, and a few bands later, I have come to love my Apple Watch. I’ve ordered the sports band in both white and black. They are uber comfortable, and don’t catch on my long hair. I’ve tried a “case” for the watch, and removed it because it makes the watch look dorky.
For the last few days I’ve been walking around the house talking to the walls expecting things to happen. This is what one does when they own devices that “listen” for commands.
The Apple Watch has been fun, and definitely a keeper. I’ve set timers, reminders, replied to texts with dictation, sent calls to voicemail, all without looking for my phone. It has added a level of simplicity to my high-tech life. Only two complaints:
- The Milanese band continues to catch my long hair. Considering it’s a feminine design, the likelihood of it bothering more users is high. If your hair is short (say two inches past your shoulders or shorter), you will be fine. But long hair will get caught throughout the day.
- You will notice notifications more often than you do without the watch. Makes no sense? Think of it this way: One rarely holds on to their phone all day long. You put in down, pop it into a purse or onto a table, leave it in another room… all these moments give you wee bits of quiet that the watch will not. A great example is when Simon and I went to the new Avengers movie. I put my phone on vibrate and kept it in my purse. Normally I wouldn’t know what was going on until after the movie. But with the watch, I’d still get notifications (like texts and calls) that lit up my wrist. I turned on Do Not Disturb mode to fix it during the movie, but throughout the day I see more of what I normally wait to check at purposeful times. It’s more distracting that you think. Again… for must-need quiet times use the Do Not Disturb mode.
The Amazon Echo is placed between our kitchen and family room. Perfect location really. We’ve used it to hear the news, weather, wikipedia information, and listen to various Amazon Prime Music Playlists. Regarding the music, it’s actually quiet fun. We were joking about our dog and I said “Amazon, play Who Let The Dog Out”… and within a few seconds the song was playing on the Echo. Echo can use your Amazon Prime account, as well as many other music accounts (like Pandora). Very cool. Shopping lists are also a fun feature, and they recently released an upgrade to work with IFTTT. I haven’t tried that yet, but will. I can see Echo fitting in nicely with home automation.
From a quality perspective, the Echo needs better error handling. If it doesn’t have a program to support your question/request the response it too generic. Simon asked for a stock price and Echo doesn’t support that. Odd, considering it’s been a stock application on all smartphones for five-plus years. Better testing would have both determined a needed feature, and a better UI response that addressed the lack of functionality. Quality is more than not having software defects, it’s also meeting and managing user expectations of said quality. Echo has failed here.
Nonetheless, these are two fun and somewhat useful purchases. If you are either a tech-geek, or have some disposable income, I recommend them. I’ll follow up in another few weeks on what living with these devices for a month are like.
Questions? Experiences? Comment below…