According to reports from the Verge, work is underway at Microsoft on software expected to do everything you can do with other virtual assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Called Microsoft HomeHub, it will enable Microsoft’s own virtual assistant Cortana to control smart devices and perform voice queries. It is rumoured that it will support Phillips Hue, Samsung SmartThings and Nest among others.
So, all Windows 10 PCs will, in the near future, be able to perform like the Echo and Home.
I would expect HomeHub to be part of the next major release of Windows 10 in September of this year.
HomeHub will feature a new welcome screen that will display shopping lists, to-do lists, calendar appointments and the ability to wake Cortana from the welcome screen.
It seems that this is a response to Amazon’s Echo Show which is due for release on June 28th.
Expected to be primarily aimed at Kitchen PCs with small screens, Microsoft is thought to be working with HP and Lenovo to have these all-in-one PCs ready for Christmas.
Before we get into which of the devices we’ve reviewed below is the best Smart Home Thermostat currently on the market, I’d like to breakdown some of the features that Smart Thermostats provide and the advantages they can provide to you.
The first obvious benefit of these smart devices is convenience. There is no need to go to the controller to manually configure your heating or hot water schedule or status. You can configure them from the comfort of your couch using your smart phone or from the office using a web browser.
The Tado 3rd Gen is a smart thermostat with similar features to Nest and Hive.
Apart from the usual smart feature of remote management using mobile or web it can also learn from your usage and automatically schedule your heating system to accommodate when you leave or arrive home.
As with any thermostat, it can turn on or off your heating and hot water and schedule these actions. But it can also learn your habits and adjust to them to increase the efficiency of your home heating. It will even make a schedule for you.
The system will actually learn how long it takes to get your home up to the desired temperature and will start the boiler accordingly, in order to stick to the schedule.
A leaf appears on the display when you set the system to an energy efficient temperature.
In an effort to stave off competition from Google and others, there had been rumours for quite a while that Amazon had been working on the predecessor to the Echo.
The rumours of the Amazon Echo 2 have proven true. On May 9th Amazon announced the upcoming release of the Amazon Echo Show.
What is it?
Essentially it is a smart speaker with Alexa built-in, just like the original Echo, but with the bonus of a touch-screen. It has a 7 inch touch-screen that now lets you visually interact with, as well as control the device using touch. It also has a 5 megapixel camera to facilitate video calling.
What is Google Home? In a nutshell Google Home is a voice activated virtual assistant that can answer questions using Google Search, play music, and read books through its own speakers. It can also control your smart devices throughout your home network.
Music services on the Google Home are better than the Amazon Echo’s, in my opinion. Home allows you to use services from Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and TuneIn.
Although it has no Bluetooth, it does have Google Cast which will allow you to send music from your phone to the device’s speakers.
As revealed at CES 2017, from the summer we will see Ford include Alexa in it’s SYNC 3 infotainment system.
Ford owners with SYNC 3 will be able to use voice activation to play music, get weather reports, check the news, as well as use their Echo at home to ask Alexa to remote start, lock/unlock doors, and get general vehicle information.
They also have the functionality to accept locations from Alexa directly into the navigation system. This means, for example, you can ask Alexa to find the nearest McDonald’s drive through and the location can be sent directly to the embedded navigation system in the car, bringing you straight there. Really cool!
So, to answer what is Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo is a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speaker that also contains Amazon’s competitor to Apple and Google’s virtual assistants. If you don’t already know, Amazon’s virtual assistant is called Alexa.
The Echo connects to a dedicated voice service hosted in the cloud. When you want to ask Alexa to do something you, speak the wake word “Alexa” and after the tone speak your question.