LG Announces Additional TVs With AirPlay 2 and HomeKit Launching Between April and June

LG today detailed upcoming availability of its 2019 NanoCell LED 4K Ultra HD smart TVs with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support.


The new NanoCell lineup is divided into the Nano 8 and Nano 9 series, with 11 models in total ranging in size from 49 inches to 86 inches. Seven models will be available starting in April, followed by one model in May and three in June. Prices range from $799 to $4,299 in the United States.

LG detailed availability of other AirPlay 2 TVs coming to its lineup last week and says more will be announced later this year.

AirPlay 2 support will allow users to stream videos, music, photos, and more directly from an iPhone, iPad, and Mac to compatible LG smart TVs, complete with lock screen controls. HomeKit support will enable users to easily control the TVs using Siri voice commands or the Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Samsung, Sony, and Vizio also plan to release AirPlay 2-enabled smart TVs this year. Last month, Samsung's new 2019 lineup of QLED 4K and 8K TVs with AirPlay 2 support became available to pre-order in the United States. MacRumors also reported that Roku is in talks with Apple about AirPlay 2 integration.

LG's 2019 TVs will also feature Amazon Alexa alongside Google Assistant.


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First LG TVs That Will Support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit Support Coming in April

LG today announced that its first 2019 OLED TVs with AI ThinQ will be debuting in April. These models, like other TVs in the 2019 lineup, will support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit later this year.

The 65-inch E9 and C9 models will be the first to launch, with additional models and screen sizes coming in May or June. Other LG OLED models will be announced later in the year.


LG's 2019 lineup, first revealed at CES, will be available in screen sizes ranging from 55 inches to 77 inches.

Along with TVs from Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, LG's newest TVs will include AirPlay 2 support. With AirPlay 2 support, LG TV users will be able to beam photos, videos, and music from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the LG TV, similar to how the Apple TV works today.

HomeKit support will let users control their television sets using Siri voice commands or the Home app on the iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Siri will be able to be used to do things like play a specific TV show or movie to be AirPlayed to your smart TV.

All of the LG OLED, NanoCell SM9X, NanoCell SM8X, and UHD UM7X television sets from 2019 will work with Apple's services according to Apple's HomeKit website.

Neither TV manufacturers nor Apple have provided a specific timeline for when AirPlay 2 and HomeKit will be made available on smart television sets, but LG recently said that it expects to enable the features through a mid-year upgrade.


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Fibaro’s HomeKit-Connected Flood Sensor Notifies You When Leaks Are Detected

Fibaro has been making smart home devices and HomeKit-compatible products for a few years now, and the company has several sensors that work with HomeKit, including the Flood Sensor.

The Flood Sensor, along with the Button that we reviewed last year, are the two Fibaro branded HomeKit accessories available for purchase from Apple.


Fibaro's Flood Sensor is designed to detect water, which sounds super basic, but it's something that has the potential to save you a lot of money because if you've ever had a flood or a water leak, you know the kind of damage that water can cause to your home.

Design


When I saw the Fibaro Flood Sensor online it looked like a rather sizable device, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually small, unobtrusive, and able to go anywhere.

The Flood Sensor, made from a white plastic material, fits in the palm of my hand. It's round in shape with three corrosion resistant gold feet at the bottom that are designed to detect liquid. The feet are retractable at the ends which makes sure the sensor's feet are in contact with the ground even if the surface is a bit uneven.


"Flood Sensor" is written on one side of the device, and there's a Fibaro logo at the top. Inside the Fibaro Flood Sensor, there's a CR123A battery, which can be accessed by twisting the top of the cover counter-clockwise. This is also where the serial number is located.


You can put the Flood Sensor just about anywhere it will fit. It's just about an inch thick at its widest point, so you can tuck it into some tight spots. I have it located underneath a shelf in my living room, a spot where rain water has come in during heavy rains when the gutters outside of my apartment get full.


The feet on the Flood Sensor are small enough that it can detect even a small amount of water right away, which is useful for catching a leak before it gets too bad. If there is a lot of water though, it does float.
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Eve’s HomeKit-Enabled ‘Eve Flare’ Offers Awesome Mood Lighting, Long Battery Life, and Water Resistance

Eve Systems, formerly known as Elgato, has been making its Eve line of HomeKit products since HomeKit was first announced, and it was in fact one of the first companies to come out with HomeKit devices.

Eve recently expanded into lighting, launching the Eve Flare and the Eve Light Strip. I tested the Eve Light Strip earlier this year, and now that its sister product the Eve Flare has come to the United States, I thought I'd take a look at it to see how it measures up to other available HomeKit lighting options.


Design


The Eve Flare is a sphere-shaped LED lamp that reminds me a lot of the white FADO lamps from Ikea. I've used Ikea's lamps for years with my Hue bulbs, so I expected the Eve Flare's sphere-shaped form factor to look great with colored and white light alike and I was not disappointed.


Ikea's FADO lamps are made of glass with a plastic base, but the Eve Flare assembly is all plastic because it's meant to be portable. A plastic design makes it lighter weight and safer to move around than glass. There is a seam that I can feel at the top of the Flare where the two halves come together, but it's not very visible when the light is in use.


There's one flat side on the base of the Eve Flare that allows it to sit flat on a table and charge on its included charging base. You can use the Eve Flare while it's on the base, but you can also pick it up and take it with you outside, in the bath, next to the pool, in the kitchen, or wherever else you might want portable mood lighting. It's kind of similar to the Hue Go in regard to portability, though the Flare is larger and not as bright.


The Eve Flare has impressive battery life. Eve says that it will last for up to six hours, but I assume that's at maximum brightness. I set the brightness to about 40 percent and the Eve Flare lasted well over 24 hours. I took it off the charger at 9:40 a.m. and when I got up the next morning, it was still on. It didn't die until the next day at 6pm. Battery level can be checked in the Eve app.


Eve designed the Eve Flare to be IP65 water resistant, which means it's able to hold up to multi-directional low-pressure water jets for at least 15 minutes. This basically means that it can be used in the rain, poolside, near the bathtub, and in other areas where it might get splashed or a bit wet, but you're not going to want to submerge it.

I don't necessarily recommend it, but I took the Eve Flare in the shower to test it a few times, and it had no problem with the moisture and splashes in there.


The Eve Flare is on the larger size, which make it a little inconvenient to carry, but at the base, there's a little metal handle you can use for both carrying and hanging the light up on a hook if you want. The handle isn't particularly comfortable to hold because it's metal, but it's sturdy when hung up on something like one of those 3M adhesive hooks.


There are no physical controls on the Eve Flare, so you have to use your iPhone or Siri commands to change its colors. I think it would have been nice to have a button to cycle through the available presets, but you can set something like that up with automations.

You could conceivably charge the Eve Flare at night and then use it somewhere else for the entirety of the day where there's no power available.

Setup and Reliability


While Eve's other lighting product, the Eve Light Strip, connects to HomeKit using WiFi, the Eve Flare uses a Bluetooth connection. Connecting it to HomeKit was a matter of opening up the Eve app, making sure the lamp was turned on using the power button at the bottom, and then scanning the code. The connection is quick with no WiFi steps since it's Bluetooth.
Continue reading "Eve’s HomeKit-Enabled ‘Eve Flare’ Offers Awesome Mood Lighting, Long Battery Life, and Water Resistance"

Hunter Douglas PowerView Window Shade Motorization System Gets HomeKit Support

Hunter Douglas has finally brought Apple HomeKit support to its PowerView Motorization system, which is designed to control Hunter Douglas motorized window shades.


The PowerView Motorization Hub lets users control, time, and set their window shades to raise, lower, and tilt on an automatic schedule. Originally released in 2017, the system only supported Amazon and Google services out of the box, but the company said at the time that support for HomeKit would come later the same year. However it appears to have only just surfaced.

After applying the update, users with the Powerview Hub Gen 2 should be able to enjoy HomeKit integration and control their window shades and blinds via Siri voice commands. If the support works as it was originally promised, users should also be able to incorporate shade settings into HomeKit scenes for full-home automation.

(Thanks, Jeff!)

Tag: HomeKit

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LG’s Latest Smart TVs Will Receive AirPlay 2 Update in Mid 2019

LG today announced that its new smart TVs will receive a software update in mid 2019 with support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.


LG first revealed plans to add AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to its latest smart TVs at CES in January. At the time, it said the features would arrive in 2019, and today's announcement narrows down the timeframe to the middle of the year.
New LG TVs will receive an upgrade mid-year to support Apple AirPlay 2 and Apple HomeKit for easy streaming of video and audio content and connectivity to Apple's smart home products. 2019 LG TV owners can also expect to receive a firmware update that will add Amazon Alexa support to complement Google Assistant which is included out of the box…
AirPlay 2 support will allow users to stream videos, music, photos, and more directly from an iPhone, iPad, and Mac to eligible LG smart TVs, complete with lock screen controls. HomeKit support will enable users to easily control the TVs using Siri voice commands or the Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

AirPlay 2-enabled TVs from LG will include its 2019 OLED, NanoCell SM9X, LG NanoCell SM8X, and UHD UM7X models, according to Apple's list.

Samsung, Sony, and Vizio also plan to release AirPlay 2-enabled smart TVs this year. Last month, Samsung's new 2019 lineup of QLED 4K and 8K TVs with AirPlay 2 support became available to pre-order in the United States. MacRumors also reported that Roku is in talks with Apple about AirPlay 2 integration.


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Gardena Smart System Gains Apple HomeKit Support

The Gardena Smart System is now compatible with Apple's HomeKit, thanks to the availability of a software update that brings HomeKit integration to Gardena devices like the Smart Water Control, Smart Irrigation Control, Smart Sensor, and Smart Power.


Originally announced at CES 2019, the update pushed out today should automatically apply to existing Gardena Smart System owners, enabling their systems to work with the Apple Home app and Siri voice commands.

If your Gardena Smart System gateway hasn't yet received the update, you can manually trigger it via the Gardena Smart System App. The individual components (sockets, sensors, and so on) can also be manually updated with the new HomeKit firmware via the app.

Gardena's Smart System products include watering sets for hedges and bushes on balconies, irrigation controls for controlling multiple irrigation zones, a control set for managing water usage, a water controller for automatic irrigation, sensors for measuring soil moisture and other parameters, and a smart power adapter.

(Via Macerkopf.de)

Tag: HomeKit

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Review: First Alert’s Onelink Safe & Sound Packs HomeKit, a Speaker, and Alexa Into a Smoke Detector

Back in mid-2018, First Alert launched its Onelink Safe & Sound smoke and carbon dioxide detector that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker and Wi-Fi connected Alexa assistant while also including HomeKit support to integrate with the rest of your smart home products in the Apple ecosystem.


I've been using the Safe & Sound for a few months now, and I must say, it's turned out to be more useful than I'd initially thought it would be.

Installation


The Onelink Safe & Sound is a hardwired smoke detector, so you'll have to use this in a location that's tied into your home's electrical system rather than being able to rely on battery power. But if you've already got hardwired smoke detectors, swapping them out for Safe & Sound units is simple and straightforward for anyone with a modicum of do-it-yourself experience. Just make sure you turn off power to your existing detector at the breaker, unscrew the detector from the ceiling, and disconnect the wiring.


Once you've got the bare wires hanging out of the ceiling, it's just a matter of attaching the Safe & Sound's mounting plate to the ceiling (likely by simply screwing it directly into the existing junction box in the ceiling), plugging in the proper wiring harness to the back of the Safe & Sound, connecting it to the house wiring with included wire nuts, and attaching the body of the detector to the mounting plate with a twist.


Turn the power back on at the breaker, run through the setup for Onelink, HomeKit, and Alexa in the Onelink app on your iOS device, and you're good to go. It sounds like quite a few steps, but they're all pretty easy and quick to accomplish.

Setup


The Onelink app makes it easy to set up the Safe & Sound, walking you through a series of illustrated steps to ensure your device has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth active, configure Wi-Fi for the Safe & Sound, and pair it to your device with optional notifications for various events. From there, you can scan the HomeKit code on the body of the alarm to allow the Safe & Sound to show up alongside your other HomeKit devices, while also assigning it a name and location within the house and setting a name Siri will recognize.


If you have multiple detectors, you'll need to set them up one at a time in the Onelink app, but as you add them to the same home in the app it will automatically interconnect them so that an alarm activated in one area of the home will be repeated on all other alarms to ensure everyone in the house is alerted in the event of an emergency.

Verbal Cues


When the alarm activates, it includes both loud alert sounds and voice instructions urging residents to evacuate the premise. Using names given to the various locations for the alarms, the voice instructions will say, for example, "Smoke detected in the hallway." A carbon monoxide alarm trigger will include the location of the detected danger and the peak level of carbon monoxide detected.

Onelink App


Once the detector is set up, the app continues to be used as the place to manage it. The app lets you adjust various settings on the Safe & Sound, as well as activate a testing mode to ensure everything is working properly. First Alert recommends the alarms be tested weekly, although most people likely won't do it nearly that frequently once the novelty wears off.


The app can also be used to set the color and brightness of the nightlight feature of the detector, which I've found to be a nice addition considering its location in the upstairs hallway where my children and guests may need to find their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.


Beyond the alarm and nightlight functions, the app is also where you can manage the Alexa and speaker functions of the Safe & Sound, which are the more unique aspects of this product.

Speaker Functionality


A distinguishing feature of the Safe & Sound is its ability to function as a Bluetooth speaker, allowing you to stream music to it directly from your phone, computer, or other Bluetooth-enabled sources. The sound is actually fairly decent with a surprising amount of depth considering the limitations of putting a speaker in a smoke detector. It's not going to win audio awards, but it's good enough if you just want some tunes or a podcast beamed to a centrally located speaker for background sound.


Following my original installation several months ago, I did notice a bit of choppiness over Bluetooth, particularly at the beginning of tracks as they were buffered. Performance improved the closer I got to the speaker, but given the fixed placement of the Safe & Sound, it's not always convenient to get closer to it. That choppiness has, however, improved significantly in recent months, presumably through firmware updates to the Safe & Sound. I can now reliably stream audio from my phone to the Safe & Sound from at least 20 feet away in another room with no choppiness.

Alexa


Not only does the Onelink Safe & Sound act as a Bluetooth speaker, but it also supports direct access to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. My kids in particular have found it handy to use Alexa as an encyclopedia or dictionary, as it's the only Alexa-enabled device on our second floor.

I've found the Safe & Sound to be quite sensitive to the Alexa wake word, to the point where the Safe & Sound in our upstairs hallway will activate instead of the Amazon Echo in our living room even when I'm speaking in the living room. As with other Alexa products, we do experience the occasional spurious activation of the voice assistant, which isn't helped by having a kid named Alex, but aside from that, it will occasionally wake up in response to speech that isn't obviously close to the intended wake word.


If you've got Alexa set up to handle other functions in your house such as phone calls, smart home control, and more, you can also access those functions from the Safe & Sound.

If you're listening to audio content on the Safe & Sound over a Bluetooth connection, you can still access Alexa. The Safe & Sound will reduce the Bluetooth audio to a whisper for the duration of your interaction with Alexa, returning it to normal volume when you're done.


With Alexa, you can also access a variety of music services, letting you stream songs and other content from Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartMedia, Audible, and TuneIn. Playback can be controlled via voice and a simple info/control screen in the Onelink app, or in the Amazon Alexa iOS app to some degree. You won't have full app support in the Alexa app, but if you just need to access a playlist, album, or song, it's easy enough to get it going on the Safe & Sound.

For Apple fans with Alexa devices around the house, a welcome recent addition is support for Apple Music, letting you play content from your Apple Music subscription right from your Alexa devices. Unfortunately, the feature is currently limited to Amazon's own Echo devices, so Apple Music isn't supported on the Onelink Safe & Sound at this time. Amazon has, however, said it plans to extend support to third-party Alexa devices in the future.

HomeKit and Siri


With HomeKit support, the Onelink Safe & Sound detectors become part of your larger home automation ecosystem, meaning you can organize them into Rooms for grouping various HomeKit items in the same location. The detectors will also show up in some other apps such as the Eve and iDevices Connected apps, enabling you to see all of your connected devices and check on their status.


HomeKit support also means First Alert's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work with Siri commands. Given that these detectors are generally passive devices that primarily only need to be interacted with on rare occasions, it's not a critical feature, but can be a handy one for those times. Available commands include variations of:

- How is my [location] CO detector?
- How is my [location] smoke detector?
- Do I have a smoke detector?
- Is the [location] smoke alarm tripped?
- Is the [location] CO alarm tripped?
- Change the brightness on my [location] smoke detector to [x] percent.


Even though I don't use HomeKit and Siri controls very often with the Safe & Sound, it's nice to know they're available and that I can quickly use Siri or the Home app to check on my alarms while away from home if the need arises.

AirPlay 2


From the time of the Safe & Sound's original announcement at CES 2018 and launch in mid-2018, First Alert has promised future support for AirPlay 2, which would let the Safe & Sound's speaker functionality integrate with other devices and speakers in the Apple ecosystem for synchronized multi-speaker playback, Siri music support, and more. Unfortunately, a firmware update to add AirPlay 2 support to the Safe & Sound has yet to appear, and First Alert has not committed to a timeframe for a launch, so we're still waiting for that feature to make its debut.

Reliability


When I first had the opportunity to test the Onelink Safe & Sound, I was skeptical about how it would perform. I had a pair of first-generation Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (one hardwired and one battery) back in 2016 that simply failed to perform well, and that's a major issue when these detectors can be a matter of life and death. Despite being rated for a ten-year lifetime, my original battery-powered unit began chirping a low-battery warning within a matter of weeks. A replacement unit died within a similar timeframe. It wasn't clear whether something with my network setup or some other factor was causing excessive battery drain, and First Alert later issued a firmware update intended to address the battery life issue.

When it came to my original hardwired Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, that detector performed a bit more reliably than the battery-powered version, although it did lose its connection to the app and HomeKit and have to be reset a few times. And after a year, it stopped accepting firmware updates, with the app reporting the detector's firmware was up to date when it definitely was not. First Alert did replace the detector free of charge (as it did with the battery-powered ones that failed), and the replacement had no similar issues.

Those experiences gave me significant pause when considering the Onelink Safe & Sound, but in over six months of testing, I've had absolutely no problems with its reliability. It's maintained a connection to my HomeKit setup ever since the initial configuration, and I've had no trouble connecting to it via the Onelink app.

Besides the Safe & Sound, First Alert recently launched second-generation versions of its basic Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, so hopefully lessons learned from the original version and incorporated into the Safe & Sound have also made their way to the new standalone detectors.

The Future


Just last month at CES 2019, First Alert announced its second-generation Onelink Safe & Sound that includes built-in mesh Wi-Fi technology as part of First Alert's push into home Wi-Fi with an upcoming Onelink Surround Wi-Fi system that will be able to use second-generation Safe & Sound units as nodes for a mesh network.

Wrap-up


I thankfully haven't had an opportunity to test out First Alert's Onelink Safe & Sound alarm capabilities in a real-life scenario, but I've been pleased with the easy setup and solid reliability in connecting to the Onelink app and HomeKit.

The Alexa and speaker capabilities are a nice bonus, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it's able to produce decent sound, certainly sufficient for casual music listening and providing assistant functions like answering questions, setting timers, and more. Music service integration through Alexa is rather basic with only barebones app support, but Bluetooth gives you another option for piping music straight from another device.

If you're okay with being part of the Alexa ecosystem, it's a convenient package, but the Onelink Safe & Sound's price tag will undoubtedly give many potential customers pause. It carries an MSRP of $249.99, although it can regularly be found through some retailers such as Amazon for around $199.

Granted, the technology packed into the Safe & Sound necessitates a premium price, but this probably isn't something you're going to want to buy a six-pack or more of and scatter all around your house wherever you need a smoke detector. But if you want to put one or two in central areas of your home to supplement your more basic smoke detectors, it's an interesting product.

AirPlay 2 could really be a game-changer for the product, delivering a lot of extra value to those in Apple's ecosystem by helping deliver whole-home audio through an array of speaker products. Unfortunately, the long-promised feature has yet to appear and we don't have an estimate of when it might show up. So at least for now, I'd recommend making any buying decisions under the assumption that AirPlay 2 may never arrive, and if it does, it'll be a nice bonus.

Note: First Alert provided MacRumors with a Onelink Safe & Sound for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.


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Vizio Offers Beta Signup for AirPlay 2 SmartCast TV Software

At CES this year, Vizio announced that their SmartCast TVs would be receiving support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit in a free over-the-air update later this year. This would allow iOS and Mac users to stream music and video to SmartCast-enabled Vizio TVs, as well as allow users to control the TV from their Home app on iOS or via Siri voice commands.


Vizio promised that beta testers would be allowed access to the software in the first quarter of 2019. Vizio has now posted a blog post (via Engadget) describing the upcoming features as well as a link to sign up for beta access (scroll to bottom).
If you have a SmartCast-enabled VIZIO TV and an updated iOS device, you could be selected to participate in the beta. Provide your email, and we’ll get back to you soon with more details on how to get started.
Vizio has said that specific models as far back as 2016 will be getting the update.


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Vizio Says 2016 4K SmartCast TVs Will Support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit

AirPlay 2 and HomeKit functionality will be available on all of Vizio's 2016 4K UHD SmartCast Displays, the company recently confirmed on Twitter.

Vizio's Twitter account for support questions supplied the information in response to a question from a MacRumors reader.


Apple recently shared a list of all AirPlay 2-enabled television sets on its HomeKit website, but only 2017, 2018, and 2019 Vizio models are listed.

From Apple's list:
- Vizio P-Series Quantum (2019 and 2018)
- Vizio P-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
- Vizio M-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
- Vizio E-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
- Vizio D-series (2019, 2018 and 2017)

2017 SmartCast models feature the same hardware as earlier 2016 models, which means the integration will work with 2016 TV sets as well.


Vizio is one of the only companies implementing AirPlay 2 support on older television sets. Sony, Samsung, and LG are also enabling HomeKit support, but only on 2018 and 2019 models.

Samsung, for example, will support HomeKit on its 4 to 8 series TVs from 2018 and 2019, while LG and Sony are limiting the feature to new 2019 models.


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