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Best 19 smart home assistant-ready devices for 2020 – NBC News

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Turn on and control your TV with Logitech Harmony, Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast

5. Logitech Harmony Elite with Harmony Hub

I like to watch TV while I make lunch. I used to have to walk into the living room, turn the TV on, wait for it to start up and then pick a show before I could start making lunch in the kitchen. With the Logitech Harmony Hub, I can just tell my smart assistant to turn the TV on and control it with my voice. The Harmony Hub comes on its own or with the universal Elite Remote Control to let you simplify your remote situation. I can ask it to switch the input to a smart TV hub and then use that through a smart assistant.

6. Amazon Fire Stick

If I was using the Amazon Fire Stick, I’d be asking Alexa to turn on my latest show.

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7. Google Chromecast

If I was using the Google Chromecast, I’d ask the Google smart assistant for it.

With either of the above options (or additional alternative like the Apple TV, Roku TV and others), I’d be choosing the day’s streaming content all while I’m making a sandwich.

Smart thermostats from Google and ecobee allow you to control, schedule or just tweak the temperature

8. ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

The biggest draw of a smart thermostat like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat or Ecobee SmartThermostat is automation: If you program it right, you’ll rarely have to touch it again. It can automatically change the temperature in the morning when you leave for work, in the evening when you come home, at night when you go to sleep and on a mix of these while you’re off on vacation or out of town. Such automation can also go a long way in saving you on your utility bills since you can keep heaters or the A/C off when you don’t need them working.

But sometimes you still need to adjust the thermostat by a degree or two in the moment, and I can’t tell you how convenient it is to do so with a simple voice command — especially when the lone, wall-mounted thermostat is on the other side of the house from you or you just don’t feel like getting up. Bonus: The Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with an Alexa-ready microphone built-in so you don’t actually need a smart assistant for it to work.

9. Google Nest Smart Thermostat E

Google Nest’s more budget-friendly option is another good way to get started on your smart home temperature control.

10. ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat

And the similarly priced ecobee3 lite is your budget-friendly and Alexa-centric option.

Clean your home — and maintain it — with a smart vacuum from Roomba, Eufy and others

11. iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum With Wi-Fi Connectivity

I always dreamed of having a robot butler and the Roomba brings me one step closer to my imaginary utopia. If you spring for one of the Wi-Fi connected models — like the Roomba 675 or Roomba 960 — you’ll be able to start a cleaning job with a simple voice command. You’ll also also be able to easily find it if it goes missing under a bed or couch or tell it to “go home” — that is, return to it charging dock — when company unexpectedly arrives at the door.

12. eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 35C Robot Vacuum Cleaner With Wi-Fi

Some relatively budget-friendly vacuums like the Eufy RoboVac 35C also support Alexa commands as well.

Turn any appliance into a (somewhat) smart device with smart plugs from Belkin, AUKEY and more

13. Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug

When there isn’t a smart version of the product you want — or you already have a perfectly good non-smart version at home — a smart plug can help bridge the gap. With a simple voice command, you can turn on a lamp, fountain, space heater, or any other plug-in device. Belkin’s WeMo Mini is one of the more popular, brand-name products.

14. AUKEY Wi-Fi Smart Plug 2-Pack

AUKEY has a solid budget-friendly option for about half the price of the Belkin WeMo.

Smart home devices: endless possibilities for your doorknobs, yard, music and more

I could go on forever. These days, just about any smart home device worth its salt will support Alexa and Google Assistant Whatever you’re looking to control with your voice, there’s probably something out there for you

15. Smart locks

16. Smart speakers

17. Smart sprinkler systems

18. Smart garage door openers

19. Smart security cameras

Look for legitimate tags like “Works with Alexa” or “Works with Google Assistant” labels on the box (or product page), and you should be good to go.

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Apple hires former BMW executive for car project

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Apple Inc has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help its vehicle initiatives, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kranz will report to Apple veteran Doug Field, who led development of Tesla Inc’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, the report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when Apple first started designing its own vehicle from scratch.

In December, Apple said it was moving forward with its self-driving car technology and targeting to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology by 2024.

 

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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Amazon SideWalk in Canada

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Amazon is ready to initiate the sidewalk throughout the world including Canada. So many people are concerned about what exactly is a sidewalk and should you be concerned in any way?

Well to put it simply amazon sidewalk is a new way of communication where amazon creates a network by using its echo devices and other devices. What is going to happen is that these devices would be using your home’s internet connection and creating a small network for communication. Using the ring and echo devices this will be executed where they would be forming a bridge (as the company calls it) between the two devices. While these various bridges would be used to create networks.

Amazon said this is done for easier connections and simpler setups even when your wifi goes out. Which would allow you to use title trackers and find pets easily. You would not have to spend 500 dollars on those devices but rather just use this to get updated information on your belongings. This is going to get a lot of people hooked on the devices. Using your ring and echo devices without your own internet connection sounds pretty good but is there a hidden reason for amazon to become an ISP on its own well that is something only time will tell.

So now the question is should you be concerned about this?

Well if you own an amazon echo device you will have to ask Alexa to opt you out of it because this is going to come in as activated by default. This means that you will need to put in some effort to change this if for any reason you don’t want to be a part of this program.

There are tutorials online that would help you to opt-out of this by using your Alexa app on your phone.

Another concern is that this is not the first time a company has done something like this. Apple has enhanced the find my network in a similar manner with the introduction of air tags and have responsibility for finding phones, and things using other users devices that might not know that their device is being used in the process.

Well most common people that are using the internet nowadays are more concerned about the data that is being used by these huge corporations and who are they gathering and using the data for their personal and private benefits. Additionally are data sharing policies being used and met with proper standards. Creating a rule is one thing and following it is completely another.

What bodies are placing a check on whether the huge tech giants are following these steps or not? These are the big questions with few answers and to think that now the internet is being owned by one of these giants. I mean the real question everyone should be asking is how big can these giants become and what kind of influence they hold onto our lives in the future?

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Big tech supports global tax, but wants digital services levies axed

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U.S. tech giants could benefit from the agreement of the Group of Seven rich countries’ agreement to create a global minimum 15% corporate tax rate if the final deal also scraps increasingly popular digital services taxes, according to industry lobbyists.

The deal, reached Saturday, was designed to reduce companies’ incentives to shift profits to low-tax offshore havens and could bring hundreds of billions of dollars into government coffers.

The statement on the U.S. Treasury Department website touting the deal also discusses the “removal of all Digital Services Taxes, and other relevant similar measures, on all companies.”

Facebook Inc was quick to praise the deal, and Alphabet Inc’s Google followed suit: “We strongly support the work being done to update international tax rules. We hope countries continue to work together to ensure a balanced and durable agreement will be finalized soon,” said spokesman Jose Castaneda.

The industry wants levies like France’s 3% tax on certain online revenues removed. In 2019, France applied a 3% levy on digital services revenue earned in France by companies with revenues of more than 25 million euros there and 750 million euros worldwide. It suspended collection in early 2020 while negotiations were underway on international tax rules.

Levied on revenue rather than profit, the taxes have become an increasingly popular way for countries to balance their budgets, said Matthew Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association. CCIA members include Facebook, Google and Twitter.

He noted that the communique over the weekend set expectations that digital services taxes will be repealed. “Companies are supportive of these global tax talks and the minimum tax is the price of tax certainty.”

Adam Kovacevich of the Chamber of Progress, whose partner companies include Amazon.com Inc, Facebook and Twitter Inc, agreed, saying that big companies had been targeted for the past five to 10 years by “discriminatory digital services taxes” and wanted a different system for taxing corporations.

NetChoice, which also has Facebook and Google among its members, had a different view.

“More taxes means higher costs for consumers and less R&D spending, at the same time the administration and Congress are clamoring for more R&D to compete with China,” President Steve DelBianco said in a statement.

DelBianco was unimpressed with the possibility of the deal scrapping digital services taxes. “That 15% tax is a floor — not a ceiling, and it’s not likely to stop European governments from enacting new digital taxes and taking antitrust action to hurt U.S. companies.”

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Paresh Dave; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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