How Your Kids Can Use Google Home   

Photo via Google and StoryCorps

Sometimes, I’ll hear the voice of my four-year-old daughter in the other room, and I’ll wonder, who is she talking to? And then I’ll realize, oh, it’s Google Home, the wifi-connected, voice-controlled smart speaker that has become her little buddy. (Yes, I realize how weird that sentence sounds.)

The future is now, and there are many ways that Google Home can help and entertain kids. They just need to begin any command or question with “Hey Google” or “OK Google.”

Here are some ideas to get started. (Note: Look out for similar guides for other smart assistants soon.)

Call Grandma

Home can make phone calls, which is handy for kids who don’t yet have phones. Grandma and grandpa would so thrilled. Also, if they have their own Google account with contacts, you can add it so that when they say, “Hey Google, call Dad,” Home will distinguish their voice and ring their dad, not your dad.

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Get Homework Help

Google Home is able to … Google. Kids can ask questions they’re stumped on, and it will find answers from trustworthy sources. For instance: Hey Google, who has the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence? Hey Google, what’s the capital of Arkansas? Hey Google, how many different shark species are alive today? Hey Google, how far aways is the moon? Hey Google, how do you spell ‘extraterrestrial’? It even tackles questions you might not hear every day. Hey Google, what’s the gestation period for camels? (It’s around 410 days, in case you’re curious. Oof.)

Play Games

We played Mad Libs with Google Home and it was silly fun, resulting in a story about nuns with sticky armpits. There are also other simple games kids can play: Hangman, Ding Dong Coconut (a memory game where you associate words with sounds), the Name Game (you start with a name and then come up with words that rhyme with it), Magic Door (a choose-your-own adventure game), Akinator the Genie (a character guessing game) and Magic 8 Ball.

To further stretch kids’ brains, Home has loads of quizzes, including ones on American Presidents and math. The most elaborate game seems to be “I’m Feeling Lucky,” a trivia show complete with a buzzer, audience reactions and quippy one-liners from the host. It supports multiple players, making it a fun family night activity.

Hear Stories

Saying, “Hey Google, tell me a human story,” or “Hey Google, tell me a summer story” will play an interview with a real person from a StoryCorps collection. A great way to introduce kids to those with experiences different from their own.

Settle a Sibling Argument

Kids can’t decide who gets to choose the night’s movie or test the new scooter first? Flip a virtual coin. Just say, “Hey Google, flip a coin.” Done. No more complaining that it was a trick spin or that it bounced off Mom’s hand. There’s also a virtual dreidel and virtual dice if you want to get fancy.

Be Entertained

Home knows how to (mildly) party. It can tell jokes (“What is a sea monster’s favorite snack? Ships and dip.” Da-dum-bum, chhhhh.) It can also make animal noises, sing songs and beatbox (or, well, it tries.)

Turn on Captions

If your kid is watching TV, say, “Hey Google, turn on subtitles (or captions).” An easy way to help them gain reading skills.

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Meditate

When kids need some down time, ask Home to open Headspace. It will play one of three different free meditation sessions that are only two-minutes long.

T3 Agenda: Protect your home with the Motorola Focus 72 Connect cam. Brew up a storm with the Coffee Gator. And more! ..

In today’s T3 Agenda – stream live footage from your home for free – for life! – with the Motorola Focus 72 Connect camera; brew yourself the perfect filter coffee with the Coffee Gator; and more…

Turn your phone into a 24/7 security monitor with Motorola’s new outdoor camera

Motorola has just launched the Focus 72 Connect security camera, which offers a versatile, weather-resistant way to monitor your home from near or afar. The camera turns any compatible Android or Apple device into a fully functional video monitor and can stream live feed in HD for life. The camera has a 110° wide angle field of view, giving users a good view of their property and beyond. 

It also features infrared night vision and night vision range to up to 20 metres, helping monitor around the property day or night. The Motorola Focus 72 Connect can detect motion from up to 10 metres away ensuring that nothing is missed.

The Motorola Focus 72 Connect is available from Argos for £99.99 each or two for £149.99.

Become a home-based barista with the pour-over power of the Coffee Gator

If you’ve ever wanted to recreate that barista-style pour-over process in your home, we have just the gadget for you. Using a slow, steady stream of water at the right temperature, the Coffee Gator Pour-Over System makes the best use of the natural aromas, oils and flavours of your brew.

You’ll get a brighter and cleaner taste than the typical French press method, and it’s far less dangerous than a stove-top percolator. It’s also in a different league of taste to machine drip, so it’s going to change how you enjoy a cup of Joe at home forever.

You can order one today direct from Amazon for only £29.97.

Sooth and monitor your newborn baby all at once with the Suzy Snooze smart nightlight

This Suzy Snooze, an all-in-one Smart Nightlight, Sleep Soother and Baby Monitor that’s been co-created with the UK’s biggest parenting community, Mumsnet.

Using the latest in sleep science and with guidance from leading sleep academics, Suzy Snooze has been engineered to help babies and young children learn healthy sleep routines as early as possible, to help create good sleep habits in early life lead to a lesser chance of insomnia and sleep disorders later on.

Built and co-designed by BleepBleeps, Suzy Snooze can also be controlled from the BleepBleeps app making it simple for parents to schedule and log sleep routines for their children while in another room. You can pre-order one now from Kickstarter for only $99 (£72) as part of an early bird deal. 

Keep warm (and look rather swish) in the winter months with Zakti’s new autumn and winter range

When the clocks go back next month, you’re going to need a brand new jacket to keep your warm as the temperatures plummet. Outdoor apparel maker Zakti has just the thing – a range of reflective active wear that will illuminate to keep you safe in the darker hours of winter.  

There’s the Zakti’s Flash Forward Reflective Running Jacket for women, which uses light reflective technology and a 100% Polyester design that’s both lightweight and showerproof. You can even team it with a neon Airbrush Mid-layer which will glow in the dark for extra visibility. 

For men, there’s Zakti’s Infinity Run Jacket (£50) which has reflective features, a lightweight ISODRY design, mesh ventilation panels and a detachable hood for winter showers. To fill your basket full of high-tech winter gear, head on over to zaktiactive.com now.

How to Add Users to Google Home

Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

Sometimes all I need in this crazy world is a brisk walk to clear my head and some good music bumping through my headphones. But when that simple pleasure is interrupted every morning by my partner issuing voice commands while I’m out of the house, silencing the music in my headphones, it can be a tad frustrating. It’s especially irksome when the root cause is the multiple user preferences of my Google Home, a voice assistant that is there to, ostensibly, make my life a little easier.

If you share a voice assistant with another person in your home, you might have run into the same music playback peeve, wondering if you’ll ever find peace when your partner decides to play Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic for the fifth day in a row. Fortunately, the problem can be easily solved.

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Enable Multi-User Support

When Google Home debuted, anyone could ask it about about the weather, or traffic on the way to work, but it would only provide answers based on the registered user’s information. But plenty of people don’t live by themselves—or they have guests who might want to use Google Home for their own purposes. That’s why an update in April to the voice assistant enabling multi-user support was so important. It allows Google Home to distinguish your voice from your partner’s. It added support for up to six registered users, giving everyone the ability to ask when their next meeting is, or tell Google Home to play more Michael Jackson.

The person who wants to add themselves as a user will need to use their own iOS or Android device and install the Google Home app. (Before you open the Home app, be sure you’re on the same Wi-Fi network as your assistant.) In the Home app, log in with your Google account, and select your Google Home from the device list. Select the blue “Link your account” or “Multi user is now available” banner. You’ll be asked to perform a voice calibration test—be prepared to say “Hey, Google” a few times. According to the company, your voice is fed to a neural network, where Google identifies its unique characteristics, making it easier to distinguish between multiple users.

State Your Musical Preferences

Congratulations, your voice assistant can now separate you from your partner! Now, you’ll need to pick your music preference. Google Home supports free music streaming from Spotify, Pandora, and Google Play Music services. You can also use the premium versions of Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, YouTube Red, and Google Play Music to request whatever tunes you’d like. Google’s YouTube Red and Google Play Music services should work automatically, while Deezer, Spotify, and Pandora users will have to go through a few extra steps.

To connect your streaming account (individual or family accounts work just fine), you’ll have to drill down into your Google Home profile settings. In the menu, select Account Preferences, then scroll down to “Music” located in the Services section. Select the Link option for your streaming service of choice, and sign in with their respective accounts.

Accommodate Your Guests

Got visitors that love to hijack the stereo? You can prevent them from accessing your personal information while still letting them issue voice commands thanks to Google Home’s guest mode.

In your list of devices, tap the options button in the top right of your Google Home icon and select Guest Mode, where you can toggle the feature on and off. Guests can still send content using Google’s Cast functionality, though they’ll need to be on a Wi-Fi network. Select “Nearby Device” when attempting to cast content, and look for the voice assistant, which will attempt to pair with your phone via audio cues or a 4-digit pin.

Now, when any user requests a particular song, Google will identify the user and use their account’s preferences and services to serve up songs or videos.

Amazon has 76% smart home speaker U.S. market share as Echo unit sales reach 15M, new study finds – GeekWire

Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo and Echo Dot speakers. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon still has a tight grip on the U.S., home smart speaker market.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) published a new report today from its latest “home automation devices” study that shows Amazon and its Echo products with a 76 percent U.S. market share, compared to 24 percent for Google and its Google Home device. That’s in line with a study earlier this year from eMarketer.

Google Home.

CIRP also estimates 15 million Amazon Echo units sold across the U.S., which is up from 10.7 million in March and 5.1 million this past November, according to data from CIRP.

Amazon first entered the smart home speaker scene two years ago with its original Echo device; it now also sells different models like the $49.99 Echo Dot, which accounts for more than 50 percent of Echo products in the wild, CIRP noted.

Google released its Google Home device in November. It retails for $129.99; the flagship Echo sells for $179.99. Apple also has its own smart home speaker, the HomePod, which sells for $349 starting in December.

“Google captured meaningful share, yet Amazon’s two-year head start allowed Echo to establish the dominant market position,” noted Josh Lowitz, co-founder of CIRP.

CIRP surveyed 300 U.S. owners of an Amazon Echo or Google Home device (as of June 30) for its report. Its methodology also includes a proprietary model of Amazon consumer behavior based on quarterly survey data.

The firm found that across all smart home speaker owners, listening to music is the most frequently used feature, followed by asking questions, setting timers/alarms, and controlling home automation technology.

Amazon nor Google reports unit sales for the Echo or Home. Amazon said this past December that Echo sales were up 9X compared to previous holiday season.

Google Home is powered by Google’s search engine, while Amazon Echo is powered by the company’s Alexa platform. Alexa is finding its way onto devices built by other companies — for example, check out GE’s new Sol lamp that GeekWire reviewed today.

Wirecutter just published a detailed review comparing Echo vs. Home.

“Both products are pretty good at playing music when you ask them to, but the Echo’s two-year head start means it can do more things, especially for controlling smart-home gear,” it noted. “But the best smart speaker for your home can vary depending on your priorities, the stuff you already have, and the services you already subscribe to.”

$50 Google Home Mini leaks online ahead of October 4 Pixel event

Why it matters to you

If you’re looking for a Google Assistant speaker to place in all your rooms, the Google Home Mini might be the affordable option for you.

The Amazon Echo has been well received for a number of reasons, including the fact that you don’t necessarily always have to buy a full Amazon Echo for each room. Google has already launched its full-sized Google Home speaker, but now it’s launching a more affordable speaker that you can put in each room — rumored to be called the Google Home Mini.

The Google Home Mini has been rumored for some time now, but the latest leak gives us a pretty good look at what the speaker is supposed to look like. The leak, which comes from Droid-Life, shows off a puck-shaped speaker in three colors — which happen to match the leaked colors for the Google Daydream headset.

According to the leak, the speaker will be available in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral colors, and it seems as though the speaker will be powered — not wireless — based on the leaked images. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — the idea here is that you’ll be able to get a speaker for each room.

Of course, if you’re buying one for each room, you’ll probably want something pretty affordable, and thankfully the Home Mini reportedly will be. You’ll be able to get one for $50.

The Home Mini should be able to do pretty much everything the standard Google Home can. It’ll come with Google Assistant, and will allow you to schedule things, set reminders, and so on — like Google Assistant on the Home speaker and on an Android phone. The speaker in the device may not be as loud as the standard Google Home, but it will be great for those who don’t necessarily need a loud speaker or those who simply want things like smart home control.

The Google Home Mini isn’t the first non-Home speaker to be launched with Google Assistant. In the past few months, we’ve seen a few devices launch from the likes of JBL, Mobvoi, and even Panasonic, coming in at different price points and with different focuses. The thing that really brings them all together, however, is Google Assistant, which powers all of the speakers. Check out our full list of the Assistant-powered speakers to be launched so far.




Nest Expands Into Home Security With First Security System Designed to Be Easy on Residents, Tough on Intruders

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

nest.com), architect of the thoughtful home, today announced a home security solution that includes the Nest Secure alarm system, Nest Hello video doorbell, Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera, and corresponding software and services.” data-reactid=”23″>Nest Labs, Inc. (nest.com), architect of the thoughtful home, today announced a home security solution that includes the Nest Secure alarm system, Nest Hello video doorbell, Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera, and corresponding software and services.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170920006136/en/ ” data-reactid=”24″>This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170920006136/en/

  • Nest Secure alarm system – A home security system designed to be tough on intruders and easy on you. The Nest Secure starter pack includes these products:
    • Nest Guard is an all-in-one security base that provides the alarm, keypad and a motion sensor, along with a friendly voice.
    • Nest Detect is a category first: a sensor that detects both motion and open or close movement in one compact, battery-powered product. Put it on a window and it will know when it opens. Stick it on a wall and it senses motion in a room. Place it on a door and it can do both.
    • Nest Tag is a convenient fob that can attach to a keychain, allowing you to easily arm and disarm Nest Secure without a passcode. Nest Tags are easy to share with family members and trusted people who regularly enter the home, like dog walkers.
  • Nest Hello video doorbell – Nest’s first video doorbell combines the trusted security and intelligence of a Nest Cam with the familiar convenience of a doorbell.
  • Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera – Purpose-built outdoor security camera that protects homes with best-in-class imaging and intelligence, and tamper resistant, weatherproof components.

“Today, Nest is delivering on the next phase of our strategy to create the thoughtful home,” said Marwan Fawaz, chief executive officer of Nest. “We’ve had quite a year so far, expanding into 11 more countries, growing our product portfolio with the successful launches of Nest Cam IQ indoor and the Nest Thermostat E, and today we’re disrupting yet another product industry: home security. By building product experiences our customers love, Nest has experienced more than 60 percent growth on devices shipped in recent years and continues to expand to millions of homes around the world.”

Nest Secure is the first alarm system that is actually enjoyable to live with, designed to be convenient for homeowners as they come and go.

Everyone in the family has a different routine, so Nest provides multiple ways to arm and disarm: by tapping Nest Tag onto Nest Guard, through the Nest app, or by entering a code on the Nest Guard keypad.

Nest Secure makes it easy to monitor from anywhere, sending a notification if something needs attention. Customers have the option to add additional monitoring and deterrence by adding Nest Cams to their system, which are all controlled from the same Nest app.

Nest Detect sensors combine both motion and open/close detection so they can be placed on either doors, windows or walls. They also provide the option to temporarily bypass the alarm on the way out, with the press of a button, thanks to a feature called Quiet Open. And if someone forgets to turn on the alarm? Nest sends a Remind Me notification to arm it directly from the app.

Nest Guard is designed to remain on guard – with battery backup and an optional cellular backup service – even if Wi-Fi is down or the power is out. And with an easy, voice-guided setup that doesn’t require tools, screws or wires, it’s simple for either the customer or a Nest Pro to install.

Today, Nest is shipping intelligent and powerful cameras. But there is one important area of the home not completely addressed by Nest Cams – the front door. It’s the place people come in and out. Where the action happens. And one of the first places burglars check for occupants.

Nest Hello can detect a person, then send an alert and a snapshot, even if that person doesn’t ring the bell. With Nest Aware, customers can get alerts when strangers or suspicious activity like people talking or dogs barking are detected.

Nest Hello customers can engage with guests and strangers at the door from anywhere and have a natural conversation with HD Talk and Listen. Echo suppression and ambient noise cancellation ensure it’s easy to hear each other, even on noisy streets. A list of pre-recorded responses makes it easy to quickly and effortlessly answer visitors with one tap from the app.

Buying a security camera is driven by the peace of mind that comes from knowing the home and family are protected. But when it comes to keeping an eye on the home, we know people don’t want more information, they want better, actionable information.

Earlier this year, with the launch of Nest Cam IQ indoor, Nest introduced one of the most intelligent and powerful cameras on the market to bring better security to the inside of your home.

Now, Nest is extending that intelligence outside. Featuring a brand new design, Nest Cam IQ outdoor is a camera that does more and requires less time from customers. Instead of just showing what’s happening, it will deliver critical, actionable information via an alert – like spotting someone unfamiliar in the yard – so users know that the alert is important.

Not only is Nest bringing new hardware to its camera portfolio, but will provide customers the option to add the Google Assistant to Nest Cam IQ indoor. It’s the first security camera to have the Google Assistant built in, and will be available via a free software update for all current and new customers this winter. The Google Assistant adds a new level of intelligence to Nest Cam IQ indoor, including the ability to ask questions, control the home, and manage tasks.

Through the Works with Nest program, Nest has been working with partners to create integrations with its portfolio of new security products.

As previously announced, Nest has been working with Yale, which brings 175 years of expertise in locks, to build a modern take on a secure deadbolt. The new lock, as well as Nest’s own products, leverages both the Thread and Weave technologies to securely communicate with Nest Secure and other Nest products, even if the power is out or there’s no Internet connection. The Nest + Yale lock will be available early next year.

Customers can disarm the Nest Secure alarm system when they unlock the Nest + Yale lock, and they’ll be able to unlock the door when they notice a friend (or delivery person) through the Nest Hello video doorbell.

Nest will also launch a new accessory, called Nest Connect, that will ensure Nest Secure will work in large homes, as well as enable the Nest + Yale lock, and similar products, to connect to the Internet and be controllable via the Nest App.

When it comes to security, making a home seem like it’s occupied can provide powerful deterrence. Works with Nest products including lights, switches and plugs from companies such as Lutron, LIFX, and Philips can connect with Nest security products to make it look like you’re home when Nest notices you’re away. That can help prevent break-ins from happening.

And with Chamberlain’s MyQ-enabled garage door openers, users can get a notification if they’ve left their garage door open. Then they can close it from wherever they are with a tap on their phone.

The Works with Nest program, using technologies such as Thread and Weave, enables Nest products to work seamlessly with products from other manufacturers as a complete system.

Nest Secure can be pre-ordered beginning today on nest.com and will ship in November, when it will become available at leading retailers in the U.S.

  • The Nest Secure starter pack, which includes Nest Guard, two Nest Detects and two Nest Tags, has a suggested retail price of $499.
  • Customers will be able to purchase additional Nest Detects for $59 and Nest Tags for $25.
  • A Nest Secure starter pack plus Nest Cam Outdoor will be available on nest.com and at Best Buy for $598, a $100 discount versus the standard bundle price of $698.
  • Cellular backup service will be available on nest.com for $5 per month or $50 per year.
  • Nest has partnered with MONI to offer its award-winning, 24/7 professional monitoring service in the coming months.

And we’ll be launching Nest Secure in Europe and Canada next year.

Nest Cam IQ outdoor will be launching in the United States, Canada and all Nest European markets in November at leading retailers, and can be pre-ordered on nest.com beginning today.

  • Nest Cam IQ outdoor is available at a suggested retail price of $349 or in a two-pack for $598.
  • To get more details about when it will be available, please visit www.nest.com.

Nest Hello page for more information.” data-reactid=”72″>Nest Hello will be available in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of 2018, and Europe later next year. Visit the Nest Hello page for more information.

Nest’s mission is to create a home that’s thoughtful – one that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it. The company focuses on simple, beautiful and delightful hardware, software and services. The Nest Thermostat E™, Nest Learning Thermostat™, and Nest Energy Services keep you comfortable and address home energy consumption. The Nest Protect™ smoke and carbon monoxide alarm helps keep you safe, and Nest Safety Rewards lets you save money through participating home insurance providers, while Nest Cam™ keeps an eye on what matters most inside and outside your home.

nest.com.” data-reactid=”75″>Nest products are sold in 18 countries across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific and are installed in every country in the world. The Nest Learning Thermostat has helped save approximately 14 billion kWh of energy to date, enough electricity to power New York State for 100 days. Through the Works with Nest program, third-party products can securely connect with Nest devices to make homes safer, more energy efficient and more aware. For more information, visit nest.com.

*Source: Nationwide “Brand New Belongings” survey 2013.

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How to link and unlink smart device services from the Google Home app

Some things seem more complicated than they should be.

The Google Home app does more than setting up the Google Home itself. You use it to set up Chromecast devices and smart “things” in your homes, like Hue lights or a Nest. Because you can use the app for so many different things, there is a good chance that eventually you’ll need to unlink one of them from your Google account. At the beginning of September, Google sent out an update for voice control on some of those smart devices which also requires you unlink them to update everything.

More: These products and services work with Google Home

Linking and unlinking a device service from Google Home isn’t difficult, but it’s certainly not the most intuitive process you’ll come across. We can make it a little easier.

Linking a device

  • Open the Google Home app, and tap the Menu in the top left corner of your screen.
  • If you have more than one Google account on your phone, check to make sure you’re using the right one.
  • Scroll halfway down the page and tap the entry marked More settings.
  • Make sure you’re on the Devices tab and not the Rooms tab. They are labeled at the top of your screen.
  • Tap the blue button with the + to add and link a device.
  • Choose your device from the list.
  • Follow the instructions that open from your device manufacturer.
  • When the pairing is complete, click Done in the upper right.
  • Set a name for the device.
  • Assign it to a room.

A word or two on naming and room assignment. You’ll be prompted to give your device a nickname, and the name you choose is what you’ll be calling it if it uses voice commands. Try to make it an easy one or two syllable name that you’ll remember. It doesn’t have to have the same name your manufacturer assigned it or the name you chose during the manufacturer’s setup.

Room assignment is important when you’re using voice to control the things in your house. You might have a Chromecast, some Hue lights, and a smart thermostat in your living room, and have another Chromecast and smart lamp setup in the bedroom. Assigning a room means you can say “Dim the lights in the bedroom” or “Play the Beatles in the living room” and Google Home will do the rest. If you don’t tell it where your stuff is, you’ll have to remember the device names each and every time.

Unlinking a device

  • Open the Google Home app, and tap the Menu in the top-left corner of your screen.
  • If you have more than one Google account on your phone, check to make sure you’re using the right one.
  • Scroll halfway down the page and tap the entry marked More settings.
  • Make sure you’re on the Devices tab and not the Rooms tab. They are labeled at the top of your screen.
  • Tap the blue button with the + in it.
  • You’ll see the same list of devices as you did when you linked one. Your linked devices are at the top of the list labeled Linked services
  • Find the device you want to unlink and tap it.
  • Tap the label marked Unlink account in the window that opens.
  • Confirm your choice

This process removes the permissions the manufacturer had to access your Google account. That means the service itself is removed, but if any data is stored on the device will remain. Follow the instructions from your manufacturer if you need to wipe a device clean so somebody else can use it.

Your account with the manufacturer will also remain in place. You can keep the account in case you need it again or delete it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

All finished!

You’ll notice this is very different from the process used to add a Google Home or Chromecast device. You won’t need to do this very often, but when you do you’ll have all the directions in one place to get you started!

Your Google Home will now help you find dates

Dating apps have always been very hands on — full of swipes and texting — but now some of them are making the move to be hands-free.

Plenty of Fish announced on Tuesday that it’s launched an integration with Google Home, which will read your messages aloud to you and allow you to compose and send replies. The point of this, according to a statement from the company is to make “the process of sending a message easier by allowing a user to speak freely, rather than type – more in line with a natural conversation.”

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If anything involving a robot and romantically-charged messages can ever be considered natural, then sure. This moves comes on the heels of eHarmony announcing a similar partnership with the Amazon Echo last week. So why the sudden rush to add home assistant integration among these dating apps?

Well, Plenty of Fish told Mashable that it’s about starting a dialogue. They’ve positioned themselves as “the leader in conversations,” and they recently launched Spark, a feature which lets you start a chat based on a specific element of someone’s profile. They’ve seen an almost 25 percent rise in replies to messages for Android users and nearly 40 percent on iOS. This Google Home initiative is intended to build on that. 

The company’s CEO, Hesam Hosseini, explained in a statement, “We’ve found that a good conversation is the number one indicator of a great date, so both Spark and the Google Assistant integration were created to help people easily connect and get the conversation started.”

Managing your dating life while also making dinner or cleaning your house sounds like a win for the busy single person. The reality, though, is a little more complex. For one thing, you’re letting an already invasive device even deeper into a very private aspect of your life. 

Speech-to-text dictation is also still a clumsy enough affair that you may not actually save yourself any time in the end. Though it, of course, depends on your particular lifestyle. There’s also the issue that technically you’re conversing with a machine, not an actual love interest. 

Only you can decide if this integration will help you convert those matches to IRL meetups even faster, but just be careful you don’t fall in love with your Google Home or Alexa along the way.

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August upgrades smart home lineup with ‘Pro’ lock and doorbell cam, DoorSense, more

August is upgrading its connected home lineup with two new smart locks including a new design and an updated doorbell cam with more features. August is also introducing a clever new technology called DoorSense that delivers several benefits to smart lock features.

Sony A6500

The latest August Smart Lock is a new entry-level solution that sports an all-new design and a $149 price tag. The taller, oval-shaped smart lock features a traditional thumb turn rather than a rotating knob design of the last two generations. August Smart Lock is still easy to install and replaces the inside door lock without changing the outside lock (ideal for renters).

The cheaper third-gen August Smart Lock doesn’t feature HomeKit support like the more expensive second-gen, but you can add August Connect separately to gain Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. August Connect also adds remote access to the third-gen August Smart Lock.

The new August Smart Lock Pro features the familiar round knob design with a new exterior pattern and improved internals. Smart Lock Pro also retains HomeKit support, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration, and now Z-Wave Plus compatibility. Smart Lock Pro also comes with August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge bundled to enable remote access right out of the box.

Both new smart locks work with a new feature from August called DoorSense. This proprietary technology lets August smart locks know whether or not a door is closed. This adds an extra layer of security because you can know that your door is both locked and closed (since a locked door left open is not secured).

DoorSense can work with features like Auto-Lock to lock as soon as the door closes or avoid locking while the door is still open. And with Active Monitoring, DoorSense can send notifications if a door is left open for too long or send alerts for activity during a specific period of time (like when the kids come home from school).

Both Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro are available in silver and dark gray starting today. Smart Lock retails for $149 and Smart Lock Pro with August Connect included retails for $279.

August is also introducing Doorbell Cam Pro. The new and improved hardware brings a new feature called HindSight which captures video seconds before motion is detected to offer better video recordings.

Doorbell Cam Pro features an improved design that enhances usability at night thanks to a new LED ring and a built-in floodlight that lets you view video in full color at night. The new video doorbell also includes an improved set up process thanks to a new USB dock that lets you test Doorbell Cam before you install it over your old doorbell.

Doorbell Cam Pro will be sold in silver and dark gray for $199 and ship starting October 10th. Check out August.com for more details.


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Amazon Echo Dominates Google Home In Connected Home Spekers

Amazon Echo, the home speaker that doubles as a virtual assistant, dominates its emerging category with an estimated 15 million units sold, according to new research.

That represents 75% of the U.S. market for these Internet-connected devices, which people can use with their voices to order take out food, check their bank accounts, check the weather, and play music.

Google Home came in second with 5 million devices sold, accounting for 24% of the market, according to numbers released Monday by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, (CIRP).

CIRP based its figures on 300 U.S. homes that have connected assistants. In May, the Chicago-based researcher put the number of Echos sold at 10 million. Amazon itself does not disclose sales numbers on its Echo devices.

Amazon (amzn) Echo, and its Alexa virtual assistant which provides speech recognition smarts, debuted late in 2014 with Google (googl) Home following two years later. But they won’t have the market to themselves much longer: This fall, Apple (aapl) HomePod is set to debut while Microsoft’s (msft) Invoke is due at around the same time.

Related: Amazon Echo Exec Exits

CIRP partner Michael Levin told Fortune that it will be hard for new entrants to gain traction at this late date. “Amazon and Google have what amounts to a significant head start in a market where we think there’s room for only one home operating system,” Levin said via email.

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In his view, the home assistant market is very different from the mobile device arena, in which one user could well have both an Android phone and an Apple iPad running iOS—and perhaps even more devices.

“Amazon and Google have started to occupy valuable real estate—literally,” he said.