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Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance and Board Members Form Working Group to Develop Open Standard for Smart Home Devices – AiThority

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Project Connected Home over IP Intends to Simplify Development for Device Manufacturers and Increase Compatibility for Consumers

Seattle and Cupertino, Mountain View and Davis, California — Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also onboard to join the working group and contribute to the project.

The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

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The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol. The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol, and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.

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The project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. The planned protocol will complement existing technologies, and working group members encourage device manufacturers to continue innovating using technologies available today.

Project Connected Home over IP welcomes device manufacturers, silicon providers, and other developers from across the smart home industry to participate in and contribute to the standard.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Could Cause Problems For Apple, Google – Forbes

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Samsung has a penchant for doing too much with its hardware. Over-ambition usually gives way to sobering, buggy, reality.

The roll-call of failed gimmicks is too long to list to keep your attention, but the company has improved in recent years and the extras it likes to throw-in are slowly becoming more useful. Nowhere is this more evident than with the new Galaxy Buds Pro. 

The Korean company’s earbuds are bustling with new features. Smarter features. High IQ hardware is something most associate with Google and its increasingly terrifying Assistant technology. But as I hold both the Pixel Buds 2020 and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro in my hands its hard not say the latter comfortably beat the former in smarts. 

Several neat touches give the Samsung buds an edge over competition from Apple and Google. One of the standout features of the Buds Pro is the new ambient sound mode that automatically turns on when it hears you speaking. The idea is that the buds will switch between active noise cancelling (ANC) and ambient mode (digitally pumping out outside sound) when it detects your voice. 

Music isn’t paused when a chat is detected, instead the volume is dipped and your surroundings come more into focus. There’s a slight delay between detecting your speech and engaging the ambient mode, which can be awkward with a natural conversion. But it works well once going and eliminates the ‘hurriedly popping your earbud out’ dance we all do.

For the outwardly excessively polite, but inwardly resentful of all social interactions, this is a godsend. You can be polite enough to respond to people, whilst sending a clear message by keeping your buds in and not tapping to pause the music. 

But one new feature issues a direct challenge to the competition and solves a long standing problem. Samsung has ostensibly found a way to fix the issue of Bluetooth interference with its new proprietary scaleable codec. For the uninitiated, Bluetooth interference occurs when physical objects block signals or the frequency of the signal is overcrowded. This is a problem for all wireless earbuds and wirelessly connected devices. It was a particular problem for Google’s Pixel Buds.

Samsung’s solution solves this by changing the bit-rate depending on the strength of the Bluetooth connection. It works by automatically encoding “the audio information with a higher compression ratio”, which keeps the music streaming. It’s difficult to test how effective this is because you have to wait for interference to occur, but in the many hours I’ve logged with the Buds Pro, in different locations, I haven’t suffered any connectivity dips.

All of these new smart features add up to an accomplished pair of headphones that demonstrably do much more than the competition. The Bluetooth interference protection in particular shows Samsung is further moving towards genuine improvements and away from its history of gimmicks. 

Despite the fact that the Buds Pro sound very good, raw audio performance isn’t the sole metric to consider when buying. Products like the Galaxy Buds Pro make that clear.  I personally think the Jabra Elite 85Ts sound better. The bass is richer and more detailed, and the overall sound is more expansive and punchy.

But the Galaxy Buds Pro are more useful (and they sound good). The additional audio features that you won’t find on other products like the AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds (not yet, at least) are hard to lose after they’ve become a core part of the earbud experience. It will be interesting to see what Apple and Google do with their new audio devices this year, but Samsung has set the bar very high.

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How Samsung's SmartTag Bluetooth trackers work (and how to buy them) – CNET

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The SmartTag is small enough it won’t get in the way. 


James Martin/CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

Samsung on Thursday held its first Unpacked event of the year, where in addition to a trio of new Galaxy S21 phones, the company also introduced the SmartTag and SmartTag Plus. The products are a direct competitors to Tile, the small Bluetooth trackers that help locate lost items like keys, your phone, pets and anything else you routinely misplace or would like to attach the tag to. Samsung is bundling a free SmartTag with Galaxy S21 preorders

There are several things to know about the new product. For a start, SmartTags connect to SmartThings Find, a service that’s already built directly into Samsung Galaxy phones — SmartThings is Samsung’s hub for smart home devices. There are also two different types of SmartTags, which makes things confusing right off the bat (don’t worry, we’ll explain below). 

Here’s everything we know about Samsung’s SmartTag so far (and what we don’t), from the price and way it works, to how to figure out which SmartTag to buy.


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Samsung SmartTag: What does it do?

Samsung’s SmartTag is a small, battery powered device that you can attach to things like a wallet, backpack or even your pet. It isn’t clear what kind of battery SmartTag uses, what the battery life is, or how to replace it. We’ve asked Samsung for more details.

Once it’s set up and linked to your Samsung account, the tag can be found using the SmartThings Find app on your phone. 


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How do you use a SmartTag to find a lost item?

After you realize you’ve lost an item, open the SmartThings Find app on your smartphone. Next, you’ll tap on the Find card, pick the device you want to locate and wait for it to load. 

If you’re close to the lost item, you use the gauge on the screen to show how far away the item is. The fuller the gauge gets, the closer you are. To help you find the tag, you can make it play a sound.

If the tag isn’t close to you, don’t worry, it can still be found. Other Samsung devices near the tag will anonymously locate it for you, and then let you know where it is, all without the owner of the device doing a thing. It’s done in the background and is encrypted to ensure privacy. 

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SmartThings Find is the app you’ll use to track down list items.


James Martin/CNET

Why are there two different types of SmartTags?

In a classic Samsung move, there are two different types of SmartTags. The first, which is available alongside the Galaxy S21 lineup, uses Bluetooth Low Energy as its connection standard. The other version, called SmartTag Plus, will use ultrawideband connectivity (UWB)

There are two versions of the SmartTags, because not all Samsung Galaxy phones support UWB, but they do all support BLE. Only the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 Ultra support UWB. 

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Samsung’s Galaxy S21 is a good-looking phone, right? 


James Martin/CNET

What’s the difference between the two SmartTags?

Using the SmartThings Find app to locate tags that are equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy, you won’t be able to see a tag’s exact location, but an estimate of how far away or close it is. It’s the same kind of tech that’s used to stream music from your phone to your wireless earbuds or allow your phone to act as a key with a smart lock. 

With ultrawideband, your phone and the tag are able to talk to each other and estimate a more precise location, within a few inches. Using a series of short pulses, a UWB device can communicate measuring how long it takes for one of the pulses to be received and answered by another UWB device. In short, UWB is far more precise than BLE. 

We’re seeking more information about the expected range difference between the two. We have a far more detailed explanation here of what exactly UWB is, how it works and other ways it can be used. 

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All the color options for your Bluetooth Samsung SmartTag.


Samsung/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Will both Bluetooth and UWB SmartTag models be available at the same time?

No. Samsung is launching the standard SmartTag first, with the UWB version SmartTag Plus launching later. The company didn’t say when, just that it’s coming. Since a SmartTag is being bundled with Galaxy S21 preorders, we assume the BLE version is what’s included. 

How much do SmartTags cost?

The SmartTag that’s available for the Galaxy S21 launch is $30 for one, $50 for two and $85 for a four-pack. The UWB version will launch at $40 for one and $65 for a two-pack.

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Samsung revealed two new SmartTags and their pricing.


Samsung/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

What is this bundle deal with a Galaxy S21?

If you preorder a Galaxy S21, you’ll get one SmartTag for free, along with a credit that ranges from $100 to $200, depending on which S21 model you order. 

Will both tags work with every Galaxy phone?

No. Currently, the Galaxy S21 Plus, S21 Ultra and last year’s Note 20 Ultra support the UWB SmartTag technology. All other Galaxy phones only support the BLE version of the SmartTag. 

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It’s too bad you can’t use a SmartTag to track down the new S Pen for the S21 Ultra. 


James Martin/CNET

What else should I know?

The extra features of UWB mean that you can use a dedicated augmented reality mode in the SmartThings Find app that will help you pinpoint a tag’s location in the real world, instead of using a gauge that fills in as you get closer to it. 

Using AR, you’ll be able to hold up your phone and view exactly where the tag is, using a combination of your phone’s camera and a graphic in the app to see the world around you. 

Battery life is expected to last months, but it’s unclear if the battery is replaceable. We’ve asked Samsung for more details and will update when we learn more. 

Once we get our hands on SmartTags and the S21, we’ll update this post with more information. Until then, make sure to check out our initial impressions of the S21 Ultra. If you want to preorder an S21, here’s everything you need to know. We also take a deep dive and look at the S Pen capabilities of the S21 Ultra

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Here's the top Canadian mobile news from the past week – MobileSyrup

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Every week we bring you the latest in Canadian mobile news. Listed below is a quick overview of the top stories from the past seven days.

Toronto’s dotmobile shares plan pricing following CRTC MVNO approval
Xbox shows off the most Canadian-themed controller ever
British Columbia doubles EV incentives for businesses
Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Sound quality over comfort
Contest: Win a Bell Google Pixel 4a 5G!
Samsung Galaxy S21 series Canadian specs, pricing and availability
Google fixes issue affecting its COVID-19 Exposure Notifications System
NHL Live and Sportsnet Now+ is almost the perfect NHL streaming bundle
Shaw reports 31 percent increase in postpaid net additions in Q1 2021
COVID Alert exposure notification app surpasses six million downloads
François-Philippe Champagne sworn in as new Innovation Minister as Bains steps down

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