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IFTTT (If This, Then That) is an online service that allows users to string together a series of commands to perform actions throughout the home. These connected commands are called ‘recipes’ or ‘applets’, and when used correctly can give you more control over your smart home than ever before. 

While many smart home devices have built-in apps that allow for minute levels of customization and control, IFTTT makes it possible for different devices to trigger one another. For example, if something triggers your motion sensor, you can have an IFTTT recipe that in turn triggers your smart lights to flash.

Table of Contents

Despite the “then that,” you can string together more than one response. IFTTT recipes can be used to achieve true home ‘automation’ that all but eliminates the minutiae of day-to-day life. With so many options and potential skills however, it can be tough to find the best ones for your home. So we’ve scoured IFTTT and found the best recipe ideas and applets for your smart home.

The recipes are divided into different sections based on their primary function. As there are so many different applets and recipes, it’s impossible to recommend a single best recipe for each section, so instead you will find links to those recipes we feel serve as the best representation of what IFTTT is capable of.

The Best IFTTT Recipe Ideas for Home Security

Whether you’re at home or not, IFTTT can give you assurance that your home is safe and protected. At night, you can tell Alexa to arm your security system without ever getting out of bed. You can also set up an applet to automatically close the privacy shutter on certain security cameras when you get home, too.

If you worry about whether you locked the door when you left, IFTTT can handle that, too. A SmartThings-compatible smart lock can sync with an Android phone to lock the door the moment the phone goes out of range. Do you use iPhone instead of Android? Then there’s a version of this applet that works with any phone type.

The Best IFTTT Recipes for Smart Lighting

The scenes in old movies where a home’s lights come on when the owner walks through the door have inspired many people to create a similar setup in their own home. IFTTT makes this more than possible with an applet to trigger a specific Smart Life scene when you get home. If you haven’t installed smart lighting in your home, you can still benefit from it as long as you have a WeMo smart switch. This IFTTT recipe automatically turns on any light connected to the smart switch.

If you use Uber a lot, you know the painful fees that come with leaving a driver waiting. So why not flash your Philips Hue bulbs when your Uber arrives? Or automatically turn your lights on at sunset? 

On the flip side, you can also use IFTTT to create a solid nighttime routine that turns your lights a soft color before shutting them off.

The Best IFTTT Recipe Ideas For Smart Thermostats

With cooler temperatures on the way, it will soon be time to turn up the heat. But like many people, you’re likely concerned with keeping energy costs low. Use this IFTTT applet to switch your Ecobee to your preferred temperature when you get home. 

On the other hand, you don’t want your home to get too cold during the day, so an applet that sends an alert when your Nest thermostat drops too low can be useful.

Of course, the last thing you want is to lose control of your home’s temperature because the batteries in the thermostat died. Use this IFTTT recipe to know when your Netatmo thermostat is in need of a more juice.

The Best IFTTT Recipes For Smart TVs

When you get home after a long day of work, the last thing you want is to run around the room flipping off lights to create the perfect atmosphere for the latest episode of your favorite show. This applet will let you change the lights to the perfect ambience with just a quick phrase and a little help from Google Home. 

Of course, if you’re like a lot of people and struggle to keep track of the TV remote, you might like this recipe that turns off the TV with a word.

Both of the above recipes were for Google Home, but what about Alexa users? You’ll still need a Harmony Hub, but you can still turn your TV off with just a phrase. And depending on what it is you want to do with your television, Alexa can do a whole lot more.

Come Up With Your Own IFTTT Recipe Ideas

You don’t need to be a computer whiz to make your own applets. While the IFTTT site has hundreds of potential recipes for you to use, they are all user-created. If you don’t find one that fits exactly what you’re looking for, you can make your own.

All you need to get started is an IFTTT account. 

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How To Choose The Best Robot Vacuum For Your Home

While you might have been limited to just a few brands years ago, choosing the best robot vacuum for your home means comparing dozens of brands and types. Today, robot vacuums handle vacuuming, mopping, and even empty themselves. You can also pick a vacuum based on your needs, such as just hardwood floors or pets. Whatever your needs, this guide will help you narrow your search.

Types of Robot Vacuums

Despite the name, these cleaning assistants often do more than just vacuum. Before you start your search, think about the type of robot vacuum you need.

Image source: Unsplash

Vacuum only – if you’re looking for just a basic machine to get up dirt and debris, this is perfect. These are the cheapest options available to only vacuum. Some models may only work on hardwood floors, but most vacuum-only robots handle both carpets and hardwood floors.

Mop only – if vacuuming isn’t really a big deal for you, you may prefer a robot vacuum that just mops. These are usually reserved for more heavy-duty mopping and feature larger water tanks than dual vacuum + mop models.

Vacuum + mop – as the name implies, it does both. The only downside is that you’ll need to switch between modes and set zones to prevent these vacuums from trying to mop your carpets and rugs.

Self-emptying. – if you want a set-it-and-forget-it type of robot vacuum, you may want to splurge on a self-emptying model. These can clean your home multiple times before you have to empty the bin that’s connected to the charging base.

Hands-free – with standard vacuum + mop models, you have to connect the mop pad, manually switch modes when you just want to vacuum, and set up zones to ensure your carpets don’t get wet. A hands-free model like the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ can do all that without any intervention from you. It can detect carpets, automatically lifts the mop pad out of the way, and only mops on hard floors. Plus, it empties itself.

While those are the main options, you’ll also need to think about all the other features you might need to have onboard.

Common Robot Vacuum Features

Once you have the type picked out, it’s time to start looking at the various features. While some models are barebones and offer basic suction at a low price, others offer features you didn’t even know you might need.

Image source:


The best robot vacuum includes all the features you could want and maybe a few extras:

A self-emptying bin – while not a necessity, if you have a larger home or pets, you may want a self-emptying model. The number of times the vacuum empties depends on the size of the dust bin. You could go from having to empty your vacuum daily to just weekly.

Intelligent mapping – if you want the most efficient vacuuming possible, opt for intelligent mapping. This feature scans your room to create the best map for your room. After an initial mapping period, the vacuum follows its chosen map. This can enlarge the size of an area that is cleaned before the battery gets low.

Object collision avoidance – for most homeowners, this is kind of a must. The last thing you want is scuff marks and scratches all over your furniture because the vacuum bangs into it. With this feature, the vacuum identifies an object in the way and moves around it. On pet-friendly models, this can also include pet accidents so that you’re not trying to scrub excrement out of the brush roll.

Navigates different floors with ease – this feature lets your robot vacuum go from carpets to hard floors, to rugs, and back again with ease. Some of the top models don’t even roll up rug edges. This is ideal for higher pile carpets and homes where there’s a slight dip or step up to move to the next room.

In-app options – the vacuum companion app is incredibly important. It should allow you to set zones and/or rooms, set schedules, manually navigate, switch between modes, adjust suction and water levels, and see the latest cleaning times. Most robot vacuums are compatible with both iOS and Android, so that’s not really a concern anymore.

Voice control – another handy feature to have is voice assistant control. While you can always use the app, being able to tell your voice assistant you want to clean up a mess is even easier. Most robot vacuums that support voice control support both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. However, some models, such as the Roborock S7 and Roborock S4, offer Siri support.

Camera – this is most often found on robot vacuums designed for pet homes. Think of it as a roving security camera. Easily check in on your home while the vacuum is docked or cleaning.

Tangle-free brushes – some robot vacuums come with multiple rollers: one with a brush and one without, also known as a tangle-free brush. These are popular in pet homes so that you don’t have to pick tangled pet hair out of the brush.

Tip: did you know that you can use Google Assistant even with your phone locked? We show you how.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Before we start recommending the best robot vacuum for different situations, there are a few more things to consider. First, you should think about battery life. Overall, this isn’t much of a concern for smaller homes, as the average robot vacuum can easily handle several rooms before needing to return to charge.

If you have a larger home, you’ll want to look for vacuums that can handle a larger square footage per charge. Otherwise, your vacuum might spend a lot of time going back and forth to the charger each time it cleans.

Image source: Ecovacs

The second thing you’ll want to keep in mind is suction power. A general average is 2,000Pa to 4,000Pa, though some are slightly more powerful. For instance, the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni offers 5,000Pa. But the higher the suction power, the less it can clean between charges. Usually, robot vacuums let you choose between different suction levels based on your needs.

A final consideration is integration with your smart home. While many robot vacuums do connect via Wi-Fi, some cheaper models and even a few higher-priced models don’t. If you want the vacuum to work with your smart home, ensure you get a Wi-Fi capable vacuum that also works with your chosen platform, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple.

Robot Vacuum for Different Needs

While the top brands include Roomba, Roborock, Ecovacs, and Xiaomi, they’re not the only options. However, they do tend to break out the most innovative features first. In what follows, we take a look at some of the best options available on the market, based on specific needs.

Best Robot Vacuums for Carpets

If you’re mainly interested in cleaning carpets and rugs, you might want to consider the following models:

iRobot Roomba s9+

With two brushes, including one that’s tangle-free and powerful suction, the iRobot Roomba S9+ is perfect for carpets and pet homes. Featuring multi-stage cleaning and fast floor detection, it can easily change the suction power based on carpet or hardwood floors. It can also empty itself into the main bin for up to 60 days.

Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+

Powerful suction and the ability to detect carpets to avoid mopping them make the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+ a great choice. It doubles the suction when carpets are detected and empties itself. If you want a great two-in-one, this is a great mid- to high-range model.

Shark RV1001AE IQ Robot Self-Empty XL

If you have longer hair or pets and hate constantly cleaning the brushroll, the Shark RV1001AE IQ Self-Empty XL could be your best choice. It empties itself for up to 45 days and has a self-cleaning brushroll. Of course, it also has powerful suction, capable of handling both small and large debris.

If you’re looking to get a security camera instead, check out our recommendations that will complement your smart home.

Best Robot Vacuums for Mopping

If you mainly have hardwood or need more powerful mopping, you may want to consider:

iRobot Braava Jet M6

The iRobt Braava Jet M6 is strictly for mopping. It can handle ultra-sticky messes, grease, and spills with ease. Its thin size lets it go under furniture to take care of spills that leak to your chairs, tables, and couches.

Roborock S7

While the Roborock S7 handles both vacuuming and mopping, its sonic mopping technology uses the power of sound to better clean your floors. By scrubbing your floor up to 3,000 times per minute, even the toughest spills and dirt are mopped up.

Bissell SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Robot Best Robot Vacuums for Pets

Most robot vacuums will pick up pet hair, but some do it better than others, such as:

iRobot Roomba j7+

This is the vacuum-only model of the j7+ mentioned earlier. However, incredible suction and the ability to identify pet accidents make the iRobot Roomba j7+ ideal for pet homes. A three-stage clean offers up to 10 times the dirt-lifting power.

Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni

While it’s one of the more expensive models, the Evovacs Deebot X1 Omni has some of the most powerful suction around. It not only removes pet hair easily but also identifies obstacles and mops up muddy footprints.

Eufy RobotVac G30

If you need a quieter robot vacuum, Eufy has you covered with the RobotVac G30. Not only does it provide a quiet clean, but it automatically adjusts the suction based on the surface. Plus, it’s a great budget-friendly model.

Budget Considerations

Obviously, budget may be a major consideration when finding the best robot vacuum. The good news is that you can get a great vacuum starting at less than $200 if you look for deals, such as Black Friday or Prime Days.

Usually, lower-priced models don’t have quite as many features, but often they clean just as well as their higher-priced counterparts. You might have to forgo Wi-Fi connectivity and smart home integration, self-emptying bins, and less sophisticated navigation.

A few great budget-friendly robot vacuums include the Eufy RoboVac 11S for $230 and the Roborock E4 for $188. The Eufy doesn’t have Wi-Fi or an app. It’s remote control only. However, the cheaper Roborock E4 features an app and Wi-Fi connectivity. Both clean well, but the Roborock vacuums and mops.

If you’re okay spending a little more, most of the options previously mentioned retail for over $500. One of the most expensive ones we’ve listed is the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni for $1,550. The iRobot Roomba j7+ (vacuum-only model) comes in at $800.

Just remember, paying a little less doesn’t mean you’re getting a lower-quality robot vacuum. In conclusion, look for great deals and you can often score high-price robot vacuums for significantly less. Or, opt for a lower-priced model that offers most of the features you want.

Good to know: have a Google or Amazon display at home? Learn how to easily turn it into a digital photo frame.

Get Inspired

At Make Tech Easier, we’ve put a variety of robot vacuums to the test so that you don’t have to. Check out some of our recent reviews to see if any of these great options are right for you:

Frequently Asked Questions Can any robot vacuums handle stairs?

Not yet. However, most do have fall avoidance technology to prevent them from falling down stairs.

How well do robot vacuums handle corners and edges?

Some robot vacuums handle edges and corners better than others. Look for models that specifically state “edge cleaning” for the best results.

Image credit: Unsplash

Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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The Best Smart Bathroom Devices To Try Today

Imagine a luxurious bathroom that knows your perfect water temperature for your morning shower, adjusts the lighting as you walk in and a mirror that mimics natural sunlight for applying makeup perfectly. All you need are the right smart bathroom devices to make this dream a reality.

Kohler Eir Comfort Height Toilet

The toilet is where you spend a lot of your time. Why shouldn’t that toilet be smart? One of the most luxurious smart bathroom devices to consider is the Kohler Eir Comfort Height Toilet. While it’s not the only smart toilet in Kohler’s line of intelligent toilets, it does have numerous features that’ll make your current toilet green with envy. Some Kohler toilets even have Alexa integration.

Self-cleaning, heated seat, built-in LED nightlight, front- and rear- cleaning, air-drying and LCD remote are just the start of the features. If the power goes out, the Emergency Flush feature gives you up to 100 flushes.

Kohler Moxie Showerhead

The newest way to shower with Alexa was just unveiled at CES 2023. Last year, Kohler introduced an Alexa-enabled toilet. This year, the company announced an Alexa-enabled version of the Moxie Showerhead. The original Moxie is just a removable, waterproof, Bluetooth speaker. The new version is a removable speaker with Alexa built in. The speaker is designed to run for up to five hours on a charge. Charging the speaker is as easy as detaching it and placing it on its wireless charger.

One of the biggest benefits is you don’t have to change much about your shower. You just replace your showerhead and you’re done. While no official release date has been set, Kohler expects to start shipping the new Moxie Showerhead with Alexa later in 2023.

U by Moen

Want Alexa to actually control your shower? The U by Moen Smart Shower is designed to customize your entire showering experience. Naturally, you can control the system with your voice, an app, or even a wall-mounted control panel. It’s compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

SimpleHuman Sensor Mirror

The SimpleHuman Sensor Mirror is a must-have for getting your makeup just right. The tru-lux light system allows you to adjust the light to mimic natural sunlight to see all the subtle variations for more flawless makeup. The mirrors come in a variety of styles, including circular and wide-view.

Some models, such as the Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi, even have Alexa built in, so you can play music, hear the weather forecast and much more while getting ready to go. The lights around the mirror only turn on when your face is in view. They go off as you walk away.

ThermaSol Smart Shower SmarTap

SmarTap adds even more features to let you shower the way you want. While it offers the same temperature settings and remote shower turn-on features as other systems, you can create multiple shower and bath profiles.

Instead of just focusing on showers, SmarTap also auto-fills your bath using your customized preferences. Once again, you just have to ask Alexa to get started. Create individual bathing profiles for every family member, including your kids. One unique feature is SmarTap’s IFTTT integration. Tell Alexa to fill your bath and an IFTTT integration with your smart bulbs could automatically dim the lights to create a more relaxing atmosphere.

Capstone Connected Home Mirror

The Capstone Connected Home Mirror is one of the most innovative smart bathroom devices. While it looks like a mirror, it features the full power of Google Assistant. Control the mirror by touch or voice.

Play your favorite music while you’re in the shower. Catch up on the latest news while you brush your teeth. You can even use it to control other Google Home products. The best part is it’s not just for the bathroom. You can add this smart mirror to any room in your home or even in multiple rooms.

With every passing year, more smart bathroom devices are released. Upgrade your bathroom for an experience unlike any other.

Image: Kohler Design Center by MichaelSteeber, Jo Naylor

Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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10 Creative Ios 14 Home Screen Design Ideas

Going by the looks, the euphoria surrounding iOS 14 customization has taken over the internet. While developers seem to be in a tight race to launch cool home screen widgets, creative iOS users have sort of put on a show, showcasing their beautifully crafted home screen with custom app icons and eye-catching themes. Whether you are a little late to the party or wish to amp up your customization game, these are the 10 creative iOS 14 home screen design ideas using widgets and app icons lined up for you.

Creative iOS 14 Home Screen Design Ideas with Widgets

When it comes to customization, a variety of tools along with the freedom to set your own rules plays a vital role. So, what sort of tools do we need to craft eye-catching iOS 14 home screen themes?

Well, we need a solid collection of wallpapers, backgrounds, and widgets. Besides, we also need app icon changers for a more personalized experience. To make your task of creating themes a tad easier, I have mentioned all the ingredients that I have used to make a specific theme.

Also, note that instead of downloading icon packs from different sources, we have selected an icon pack that lets you customize the app icons with different colors and themes. So, they will work with almost all the themes that we have mentioned. However, if you want different set of icons, we have also mentioned a list of icons packs and websites that you can use to download different sets of icons.

1. Dark Theme

To create a dark theme, I have used the Black Lite wallpaper app, App Icon Changer, and Weather Widget, WidgetBox, and Health Widget. Give it a shot and I bet you would love every bit of it.

Wallpaper: Black Lite (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Weather Widget (free), WidgetBox (free), and Health Widget (free)

2. Vibrant Theme

Times when you want your iPhone home screen to look attractive, vibrant themes come into play. So, make sure to save them for the times where you want the home screen to catch eyeballs with ease.

To create this vibrant theme, I have used Wallpaper HD & 4K Backgrounds, Widgets Go, App Icon Changer, and Color Themes & Widgets Custom. Once you have got a vibrant looking wallpaper, creating a theme that can look eye-catching isn’t a big deal, so long as you are able to craft befiting icons and widgets.

Wallpaper: Wallpapers HD & 4k Backgrounds (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Themes & Widgets (free) and Widgets Go (free)

3. Funky Theme

The funky theme never goes out of fashion. And if you are willing to raise the style quotient of your home screen, you shouldn’t fail to try it out. To decorate my home screen with the funky theme, I have used 99 Wallpaper.s of Love, Stack Widget, icon changer, and Health Widget. Oh yes, I have also brought the cool Watch Out widget into the mix.

Wallpaper: 99 Wallpaper.s of Love (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Stack Widget (built-in), WatchOut (free) and Health Widget (free)

4. Nature Theme

For more than one reason, nature theme is considered to be evergreen. One of the reasons why I make sure to pick it in my collection of special themes is that it never fails to impress.

To make this nature theme for my iOS 14 home screen, I have used the Natural Wonders wallpaper app, Clock Gallery, stock photo widget, and icons8 that boasts a huge library of icon packs. As for the tip to create an appreciable nature theme, I would recommend you to keep simplicity at the top, while ensuring noise stays away.

Wallpaper: Natural Wonders (free)

Icons: Icons8 (website)

Widgets: Clock Gallery (free) and stock photo widget

5. Abstract Theme

When you want to have complete peace of mind or wish to make the home screen appear pretty calm, an abstract theme can seamlessly fit into the scene. And that too without exhausting your design ideas.

So, if you wish to try an abstract theme, take a peek at the one that I have created using Abstract Wallpapers & Background app, App Icon Changer, Clock Face, as well as Usage: Activity & Data Widget. Be sure not to overkill as it may take away the central aspect of the theme.

Wallpaper: Abstract Wallpapers (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Clock Gallery (free) and Usage: Activity & Data Widget (free)

6. Love Theme

A love theme doesn’t need to give ample reason why it deserves a safe spot in your kitty of special themes, does it? Well, if you want your home screen to appear lovable, you would be glad to know that creating love themes for iOS 14 home screen isn’t a big ask. To get going, all you have to do is get a nice-looking wallpaper and then adorn it with hearts/flowersand of course lovely messages right on top.

Wallpaper: Love Quotes” Daily Sayings (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Color Widgets (free) and Photo Widgets (free)

7. Superhero Theme

Well, I have specifically crafted this one for the folks who never seem to get enough of superheroes. If that’s you, the superhero theme is for you. Thanks to the presence of superhero wallpaper HD and the handy icon changer, creating a theme that can showcase superheroes in their top-flight is quite straightforward. Just make sure that your icons and widgets are able to complement your superheroes.

Wallpaper: Superhero Wallpaper HD (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Clock Gallery (free) and stock photo widget

8. Winter Theme

I am a huge fan of the winter theme. What appeals to me the most in it is the cool feeling that it tends to offer. The beautiful scenery coupled with the ageless ice makes the entire sight appear fascinating.

If you wish to adorn the home screen with a theme with a touch of winter, I would like to tell you that making a winter theme had never been so simple before. Keep in mind, winter themes demand matching icons to look at their very best. Therefore, make sure to keep the noise at bay without sacrificing the appearance of the scenery.

Wallpaper: Winter Wallpapers (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Battery Widget & Usage Monitor (free)

9. Offbeat Theme

As to how you can create an unusual looking iOS 14 home screen, pick out a suitable background, and then design it with unconventional stuff. It’s one of the smartest ways to steal attention.

Wallpaper: WOW Pixel (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: WidgetCollage (free), Widgets Go! (free), Launcher With Multiple Widgets (free)

10. Christmas Theme

When Christmas approaches, I like to decorate everything – from my phone to home screen – in line with the festival. It kind of makes the countdown more exciting. If you also belong to the same school of thought, the Christmas theme would be a great pick.

Crafting a theme that can amp up your Xmas euphoria is much easier than you think. So, if you are willing to get into the Xmas swing a bit early, either pick this ever-ready theme or craft a new one based on your own taste.

Wallpaper: Christmas Wallpaper HD (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Photo Album (free)

Bonus: Halloween Theme

As Halloween is just around the corner, I thought creating a Halloween theme would be great. So, whether you are already into the Halloween mood or preparing to give your home screen matching quotient, you would be pleased to have it at your disposal.

As for designing a Halloween theme, I have used a Halloween wallpaper and then decorated it with matching app icons and widgets.

Wallpaper: Monster Mash Mania Halloween (free)

Icons: App Icon Changer (free)

Widgets: Photo Album (free)

List of App Icon Packs for iOS 14

While we have used App Icon Changer for most of our themes as it reduces the work for users and prevents them from installing dozens of apps, getting specific icon packs for specific themes is recommended if you want to create a truly custom home screen. So here are some of our favorite icon packs that you can download.

Monochrome Icon Pack by Traf ($28)


App Icons – beige/black edition ($5.78)

Pokemon Themed iOS 14 App Icon Pack ($6.34)

Disney Icon Pack (Free)

Gray Neutral Aesthetic iPhone ($7.08)

Among Them – Among Us Style Icon Pack (£10)

Choose the Top Creative iOS 14 Home Screen Design Ideas Widgets

But before you get deep into the customization, don’t forget to share your top picks. Besides, also let us know the name of the designs that deserve to find a permanent spot in this collection. 

What Happens When Your Smart Home Is Obsolete?

A recent controversy sparked by smart speaker maker Sonos illustrates the dangers of building a smart home. What happens when the technology you build your home on is suddenly obsolete? That’s the quandary that many Sonos customers are facing this week after the company announced the end of support for its oldest products, some of which have been in use for more than a decade.

Sonos says those older devices are too limited to continue to support with new updates. There’s no need for me to recap the Sonos controversy here – read our coverage for more details.

Sonos got in trouble for initially suggesting that its newer devices won’t be updated if the older devices remain in use, but it’s since walked that back. And it’s also worth noting at the start that this isn’t the first time a smart home appliance maker has aged out a product or service they offered, either. Just the latest high-profile example.

But the issue reminds us of one of the big perils these days of rigging out a home or office with “smart” technology. What happens when the makers of that technology decide it isn’t worth supporting anymore?

Smart home upswing

Smart home tech is on the rise. The annual revenue from smart home platforms – already in the billions – is expected to grow in double digits for the next several years. If you walk into any home improvement business like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or even your local hardware store, you’ll see smart home products almost as soon as you walk in. New home builders are enticing customers with built-in new smart home features. In fact, studies show that as many as half of all new home buyers expect to see smart home technology when they’re in the market for a new place.

There’s also a lot of interest from consumers in adding smart tech to existing homes. Homeowners have myriad reasons for incorporating smart technology into their homes. Convenience. Security. Economy, in the cases of learning thermostats and smart outlets.

The obsolete smart home

What makes all of these devices different from their dumb counterparts is that the technology that makes them work is constantly evolving. Apple, Google, Amazon, and others are all competing with each other and clamoring to bring new features and functionality to their products, even as consumer tastes change and as the technology evolves.

Smart home appliance makers are flooding the market with sophisticated technology that makes it easy to do things we couldn’t dream of a decade ago. But there’s no guarantee that any of these devices will continue to work after a few years.

Amazon, Apple, and Google and the companies in the Zigbee Alliance understand this, too. Their Connected Home over IP effort is an attempt to stabilize the smart home marketplace with a baseline technical standard for interoperability and compatibility. That doesn’t mean that smart home appliances won’t keep aging out, though.

Hopefully they’ll continue to work, though. Certainly it isn’t novel that the devices we depend on eventually age out of being updated with new features. Look no further than your pocket or desktop for an example. Every year Apple exposes new features in iOS and macOS that make use of new hardware technology. Older devices fall by the wayside. If you’re still using an iPhone 6, for example, you can’t run iOS 13. And an iPhone 6s is going to be very different with iOS 13 than an iPhone 11.

In praise of the DIY ethic

All this reminds me that there’s something to be said for “dumb” products. Say what you want about the cheap vinyl mini-blinds I put in my bedroom when we moved in 18 years ago – they work without any firmware updates. I may not be able to rise and lower the shades from my bed, but at least the windows still open even if my iPhone is in the shop.

That’s not to say that I haven’t added smart home technology in where it makes sense, either. But so far I haven’t backed any products or services that have been abandoned yet, either. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky on that count.

Situations like this remind me that I have to be careful when I’m making those decisions about what smart home devices and services to add, though. I’m worried about being overdependent on technology whose ultimate operation is something that’s still up to the manufacturer, not me.

I’d never consider myself a handyman, nor would anyone who’s ever seen my handiwork. But I’m also solidly in favor of the Do It Yourself ethic. That’s why I was interested to learn more about how Raspberry Pi users have been adding HomeKit support to their products. Using a framework called HomeBridge, they’re able to interface HomeKit devices with Raspberry Pis. For folks who’d rather roll their own gear, it’s a cool option.

Anyway, regardless of whether I roll my own or buy a finished product, I have to constantly remember not to overautomate myself, and be wary of backing into dead end technology.

Or just being happy with what I have, no matter how antiquated.

Blackberry Makes China Push As The Os For Xpeng Smart Cars

The once-pioneering BlackBerry is pretty much out of the smartphone manufacturing game, but the Canadian company has been busy transitioning to providing software for connected devices, including smart cars. Now it’s brought that section of its business to China.

This week, BlackBerry declared it will be occupying the Grade 3 driving domain control of Xpeng, among those most-funded electric car startups in China and Tesla’s neighborhood challenger.

Founded in Xpeng’s smart cockpit is BlackBerry’s operating system known as QNX, which competes together with the likes of Android and Linux to input automakers’ next-gen versions.

Constructed between BlackBerry and Xpeng’s tie-up is middleman Desay SV, that specializes in automotive system integrators such as Aptiv.

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The kernel of all Xpeng’s domain is NVIDIA’s Xavier cockpit processor for automatic automobiles, so a fantastic amount of hardware and software at Xpeng’s new automobile relies on international technologies.

The mass-produced Xpeng version from the spotlight is an electrical sports sedan numbered P7. It sports a processing unit which may compute”the vehicle’s driving position and supplies 360-degree omnidirectional understanding with real-time tracking of the surrounding environment to make safe driving decisions,” according to the statement.

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“To this end, it is a real chance to possess BlackBerry technology powering the smart driving system in Xpeng Motors revolutionary new P7 system”

The venture arrives as Alibaba and Xiaomi backed-Xpeng is eying to increase around $1.1 billion in its first public offering at New York. Its Chinese competitions Li Automobile and NIO increased similar numbers in their U.S. IPOs.

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