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Workflow for iOS gains redesigned actions gallery, easier automation discovery

Workflow iOS

Workflow for iOS is easily the best way to put automation to work for you on iPhone and iPad, and today the popular utility is out with a significant update that includes a cleaner look and better discovery. The gallery of automations within Workflow has been redesigned with search and profiles for finding new actions and seeing who created them.



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iOS 10 promotes iPad to HomeKit remote access device like Apple TV, both now run automation

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Before now, Apple’s HomeKit platform required an Apple TV for remote access control of most accessories. If you had network-connected lightbulbs or other home automation accessories, you’d need to have a new Apple TV connected to that same network to control them with Siri when out of the house. With iOS 10, Apple is giving iPad that capability too, and it’s now using multiple remote access devices to make all of your iPads and Apple TVs work together to extend your HomeKit network.



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How-To: Automate weight logging w/ the Health app using Siri, Workflow, or a smart scale


iPhone on table showing Health app screen listing out steps, weight, and water

When news came out that Apple was working on a dedicated Health dashboard app, which would offer a way to take healthcare monitoring mobile, I was extremely excited. I had been recently diagnosed with traumatic arthritis in my knees and I needed a better all-in-one system to track my steps, weight, and BMI. None of the other apps on the market at the time seemed to do any one of those three especially well. Apple’s Health app has since become my go-to app for everything I wanted to log and more. It’s not perfect, but it’s a built-in dashboard with tie-ins to plenty of iOS apps.

Within a few weeks of using Health, I soon realized I wanted a better way to automate inputting data into the system. I eventually came to a methodology that worked great for me and decided it was time to share three of the different ways you can automate quickly logging your weight into the Health app.



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iDevices adds new Siri-controlled wall outlets, switches and light sockets to its HomeKit lineup

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We’ve already seen some interesting new HomeKit accessories out of CES 2016 including the first Siri-controlled ceiling fans, and now iDevices is expanding its current lineup of HomeKit-compatible products with four new gadgets that make home automation even easier. The Apple accessory maker is showing off its new Socket, Wall Switch, Dimmer Switch, and Wall Outlet which will let you control and automate standard light bulbs and other appliances using iOS and Siri. iDevices already offers a HomeKit Switch and Outdoor Switch (plus Thermostat), and today’s newly announced gear includes hard-wired solutions and ways to turn any lightbulb into a smart lightbulb.



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Philips officially unveils Bridge 2.0, bringing Siri-powered HomeKit to existing Hue bulbs and lamps

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Siri voice control is finally coming to Philips Hue connected light bulbs thanks to promised HomeKit support and a new bridge product. Details have been surfacing over the last month with product listings going up a day early, and today Philips is ready to officially reveal how it’s bringing HomeKit support to Hue bulbs and lamps. As expected, Hue bulb owners will be able to upgrade to the new Philips Hue Bridge 2.0 to enable using Siri to control Hue lights. The new, square-shaped bridge works similar to the old, round bridge — connecting to up to 50 bulbs  only with HomeKit support included even for existing bulbs and plans to support future home platforms as well.

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Tado, Europe’s Nest competitor, adds multi-room temperature control and IFTTT support

tadoTado, Europe’s main Nest competitor in the smart thermostat field, has announced two new enhancements to its system. First, multi-room temperature control, allowing different temperatures to be set in different rooms. Second, support for IFTTT recipes to automatically trigger other actions based on Tado detecting people arriving or leaving the home.

For homes that already have different heating devices in different rooms, such as underfloor heating, adding a second thermostat is all you need for the multi-room control. Most of us, though, will need a new smart radiator valve that won’t be available until next fall.

IFTTT support – first promised back in March – has been added from today. This can do things like automatically switch on your alarm when the last person leaves your home, and turn on lights when someone returns. The company has also confirmed that it plans to add HomeKit support further down the line, enabling Siri control and more.

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If you’re considering Tado, you may want to check out my review.

Workflow iOS automation app puts its Today widget to work in latest version

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Workflow for iOS has become the go-to automation tool for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users wanting to streamline actions on mobile devices, and now the latest version is ready to put its useful Today widget in Notification Center to work. Workflow originally launched last December after a number of high profile iOS 8 apps were being pulled from the App Store for doing too much with widgets newly made available in Notification Center, but Apple has clearly cooled off and decided that widgets that do more than present information are fine. Workflow’s new version highlights this as the updated widget can now run many tasks right from the swipe down Today view without launching the full app. The latest update also adds a few new actions as well as a new sync and backup service for workflows.

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Broadcom’s SDK is first to support HomeKit for WiFi & Bluetooth accessories, hardware bridges for non-HomeKit products

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Broadcom today announced that its new SDK for the Internet of Things (IoT) now officially supports Apple’s home automation HomeKit platform, bringing us a step closer to widespread availability of Siri-controlled smart home devices.

Broadcom notes that its SDK is the first to officially support HomeKit specs for WiFi and Bluetooth Smart accessories, allowing developers to use its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform to build apps for Apple’s new Siri-controlled, home automation platform. They will also be able to build products that double as a hardware bridge for non-HomeKit accessories. 

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IFTTT’s Do Button and Do Note apps get Apple Watch, iPad support

If This Then That (IFTTT), the service that lets users automate tasks from a long list of other mobile apps and web services, is about to launch two apps for Apple Watch.

Do Button, its iOS app for controlling hardware and software connected to the service with a single tap, and Do Note, a notepad app that uses IFTTT to save and share to other services like Google Calendar, Evernote, and Twitter, will both be receiving updates for Apple Watch by tomorrow.

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Workflow bringing over 200 automated actions to your Apple Watch

Workflow for iOS was initially released back in December with a plethora of capabilities thanks to iOS 8. Now, the app has been updated to version 1.2 with support for Apple Watch. Workflow, similar to Automator on OS X, allows users to create more than 200 automated actions with a mix and match interface on the iPad and iPhone. With Apple Watch, users will be able to view and download workflows designed for Apple Watch instantly from their wrist.



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IFTTT simplifies experience with 3 new ‘DO’ apps; rebrands original app as ‘IF’

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I’m a huge fan of IFTTT, the iOS app (and web app) that allows you to do really clever things completely automatically, just by creating or downloading an ‘if this then that’ rule–which IFTTT calls a ‘recipe.’ For example, if you’d like to save a copy of a photo anytime you are tagged on Facebook, there’s a recipe for that. Want to switch on a WEMO-controlled light when the sun goes down, there’s a recipe for that too. Pretty much anything you might want to automate has an existing recipe–and if it doesn’t, you can create your own.

But while IFTTT is incredibly powerful, the developers found that some people found it so overwhelming they didn’t know where to start. The company has now addressed that by creating three cut-down apps, each of which can perform only three functions: Do Button (geared for controlling hardware), Do Camera (to automatically post, share or save photos) and Do Note (to quickly write something and save it as a note, make it a calendar entry, tweet it and so on) … 

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Popular automation app Workflow updated w/ over 50 actions, new features, more

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Leveraging the power of iOS 8 extensions and new system customization options, Workflow debuted on the iPhone and iPad last year bringing a powerful automation app to users. Today the team behind Workflow is releasing version 1.1, which adds support for over 5o new actions in addition to including new features and updating some existing actions. Check out the latest from Workflow for iOS below:

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The latest gadgets from CES 2015 to bring HomeKit automation and Siri integration to your setup

At WWDC 2014, Apple first announced HomeKit which it describes as a “framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories” around your home, and we’re starting to see the first HomeKit-enabled accessories announced. HomeKit is especially interesting as smart devices that use it can be controlled by Siri commands like “turn off the lights” or “lock the front door” and actions can even be grouped together. Below you’ll find our running list of the latest gadgets from CES 2015 to bring HomeKit automation and Siri integration to your home:

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Misfit introduces Bolt, its smart light bulb w/ sleep tracking device integration

BoltWe saw Misfit introduce a unique, luxury version of its Shine fitness and sleep tracking wearable with Swarovski at CES yesterday, and today Misfit is launching Bolt—its first smart bulb. Misfit describes Bolt as ” a wirelessly connected color-changing light bulb that lets users personalize their home lighting.” Misfit points out that its Bolt connected light bulbs won’t require a hub and actually integrate with the company’s existing sleep tracking devices (Shine, Flash, Beddit) to gently wake you up with lighting during light sleep.

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iDevices unveils first HomeKit-enabled plug dubbed ‘Switch’, iHome announces ‘SmartPlug’

iDevices Switch with HomeKit

iPhone and iPad users have eagerly awaited news in the HomeKit-connected product space since Apple announced the feature at WWDC 2014, and CES 2015 means we’re seeing a flood of new consumer electronics coming to market including the very first devices compatible with Apple’s smart home feature. The new iDevices Switch is described as “the world’s first HomeKit-enabled plug,” which allows you to control connected appliances using Siri.

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Belkin expanding WeMo smart home range with four new sensors, as BeeWi plans to compete

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Belkin has announced four new products for its WeMo home automation range, with a focus on home security. You won’t be able to get your hands on them for a while, though: they aren’t set to go on sale until the second half of the year.

All four new products are sensors, capable of sending alerts to the WeMo app and triggering other WeMo devices such as switches, plug sockets and lightbulbs … 

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Workflow brings an Automator-like experience to iOS for easy and fast automation

Workflow gallery iPad

We’ve covered automation apps for iOS in the past, and iOS 8 adds a lot of potential for what’s possible thanks to extensions for performing actions and sharing data from anywhere in the system. Today a new app called Workflow is joining the mix with a super simple and approachable way to set up actions at the tap of a button…

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Smart driving assistant Automatic partnering with Ford Motors through its in-car Sync platform

All-New 2015 Ford Edge Showcases Technology, Design and CraftsmaAutomatic Labs and Ford Motors are announcing today a new partnership to bring the Automatic Link accessory to more people and add more functionality to the platform. Ford Motors and Automatic Labs will work together to develop features to both the Automatic platform and Ford Sync, the automaker’s in-car infotainment system.

By integrating with Ford’s Sync platform, for example, Automatic users will be able to connect the in-car Sync button to the popular If This Then That automatic service. This turns the push-to-talk button into a one push button for a variety of programmable automation tasks in the car. The two companies say more enhancements will roll out soon through the partnership.

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Launch Center Pro 2.3 for iOS adds IFTTT, geolocation, and iBeacon support

Contrast today is releasing a major update to Launch Center Pro for iPhone and iPad adding support for If This Then That and location-based actions. The update includes support for sharing GIF images from within the app using Giphy search integration (fun, right?) as well as support for scanning barcodes and QR codes from Launch Center Pro.

While there’s certainly a lot of potential with connecting web services to native apps using LCP and the IFTTT automation service, the location-based actions using geofencing and iBeacons unlock some really cool use cases for me personally…

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Apple announces HomeKit API for iOS, will serve as a central hub for home automation

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Along with several other new APIs for developers, Apple has announced HomeKit which allows all home automation accessories/devices to work together. The new API will allow home automation developers to centralize all home automation in iOS without needing separate apps to access each device’s specific features. These devices include locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more.



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Report: Apple planning iOS-controlled smart home automation platform for WWDC unveiling

According to a report from The Financial Times, Apple is working on a new software platform that would “turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances.” Apple’s iOS ecosystem is of course already home to an increasing number of connected products for the home like the Philips Hue WiFi connected light bulbs, the Nest thermostat and a number of iPhone controlled appliances, but the report claims that Apple will soon unveil a new central platform that will make for a more seamless experience:

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Opinion: Five years from now, will we have given up all control of our technology?

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I know, it seems an odd question. But a few different things over the last couple of days got me thinking …

Years ago, before either Google or Apple ecosystems were really deserving of the term, I managed all my device synchronisation manually: I decided what content got synced on what devices. My music too: iTunes was allowed to play it, but not to manage it – I took care of the folder structures and meta-data myself. And the miscellaneous notes I kept were in a folder full of text files, the format deliberately chosen to be compatible with anything, not sitting inside Apple’s Notes app.

My view was that it should be me, not some piece of software or online service, that made the decisions about how things got done. Fast-forward to today, however, and things are quite different around here … 

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AT&T’s ‘Digital Life’ home automation suite goes live in 15 markets; iOS apps, pricing

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Last year, AT&T rolled out a test phase of its new Digital Life home automation and security suite. Starting today, the company will be rolling out the final product in 15 markets. The system is launching in Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colo., Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Riverside, Calif., San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and select areas of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. The company says that it hopes to reach 50 markets by the end of this year.

The home automation system includes many facets, though security seems to be the aspect that AT&T is promoting the most.

The foundation of AT&T Digital Life is complete home security with 24/7 professional monitoring. Through AT&T-owned and operated, U.S.-based monitoring centers, professionals will respond to emergencies and alert police and fire authorities. Customers can choose which alerts they want to receive and how.

Through iPad and iPhone applications, customers can also manage items throughout their home. In addition to camera, lights, and thermostats, the company offers some bonus packages:

  • Camera Package – View live video from inside and outside of the home for an additional $9.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

  • Energy Package – Control appliances, lighting and thermostats for convenience and energy efficiency for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

  • Door Package – Allow a pet sitter or repairman into your home remotely with automated door locks, or check to see whether your garage door is open or closed for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

  • Water Detection Package – Detect water leaks before damage occurs for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

  • Water Control Package – Detect leaks and shut off water at the main water source for an additional $9.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

Pricing and more below:

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dALLAS, April 26, 2013Secure your home, check in on your kids or pets, adjust the temperature, let your housesitter in the front door, or check to see if you closed your garage door, from almost anywhere all on the go.  Available today for the first time in 15 markets, AT&T Digital LifeSM makes customers’ lives easier by simplifying the management of their home.  Digital Life offers customers security, convenience and peace of mind, in a customizable and easy-to-use experience from smartphones, tablets or PCs.

AT&T* today announced the first commercial launch markets for AT&T Digital Life: Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colo., Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Riverside, Calif., San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and select areas of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area.  AT&T plans to introduce Digital Life in up to 50 markets by the end of 2013.

Security

The foundation of AT&T Digital Life is complete home security with 24/7 professional monitoring. Through AT&T-owned and operated, U.S.-based monitoring centers, professionals will respond to emergencies and alert police and fire authorities. Customers can choose which alerts they want to receive and how.

“We know how important security is to our customers, and this was our top priority when we set out to build Digital Life,” said Kevin Petersen, senior vice president, AT&T Digital Life. “People rely on their mobile devices more than ever, so Digital Life offers an easy and convenient way to secure their homes, protect their families and simplify their lives from virtually anywhere.”

Remote Access

AT&T Digital Life is an all-digital, fully integrated, wireless home management system, giving customers flexibility to manage their home from their smartphone, tablet or PC. Customers can purchase Digital Life regardless of their wireless or wireline broadband provider.  The Digital Life application is available on most web browsers and apps are available for iOS, Android smartphones and Windows Phones. To ensure customers’ privacy is protected, Digital Life has a secure log in system each time the app is opened from any Internet-connected device.

Easy to Use

In addition to security, Digital Life offers a robust suite of automation services that can be customized to meet customers’ needs.  A user-friendly application was designed to be as simple as possible, making it easier than ever to manage your home.  The AT&T Digital Life application gives customers control over cameras, door locks, lights, thermostats, small appliances and more by setting alerts or programs to manage your home.  It’s all integrated into one simple system.

Customization

AT&T Digital Life provides total flexibility so you get exactly what you want.  You can build a system with the features you want, and you can add features or make changes easily as your needs evolve. Unlike competitors, AT&T Digital Life is a major home security and automation system that can be ordered completely online, in an AT&T store, over the phone, or with an in-home sales consultant.  Pricing is competitive and transparent, making it easy for customers to understand and purchase solutions to meet their needs.

 

Pricing

Customers can choose from two base plans: Simple Security, which is our basic home security package; or Smart Security which includes enhanced security features and the option to add home automation.

  • Simple Security – Includes 24/7 home monitoring, 24-hour battery backup, a wireless keypad, keychain remote, recessed sensors and an indoor siren for $29.99 a month plus $149.99 for equipment and installation.
  • Smart Security – Includes the benefits of Simple Security plus a choice of three of the following features: motion sensor, carbon monoxide sensor, glass break sensor, smoke sensor or takeover kit.  Smart Security begins at $39.99 a month plus $249.99 for equipment and installation.

Customers who select Smart Security can add these automation packages:

  • Camera Package – View live video from inside and outside of the home for an additional $9.99 a month plus equipment and installation.
  • Energy Package – Control appliances, lighting and thermostats for convenience and energy efficiency for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.
  • Door Package – Allow a pet sitter or repairman into your home remotely with automated door locks, or check to see whether your garage door is open or closed for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.
  • Water Detection Package – Detect water leaks before damage occurs for an additional $4.99 a month plus equipment and installation.
  • Water Control Package – Detect leaks and shut off water at the main water source for an additional $9.99 a month plus equipment and installation.

“AT&T’s Digital Life service is fully featured with one of the market’s best selection of pre-packaged bundles and connected devices.  With straightforward and competitive prices, the AT&T value proposition will leave the company in a good position to capture market share in the growing connected home market,” said Larry Hettick, Contributing Analyst, Consumer Services, Current Analysis.

“We’re bringing you security and convenience features that can be easily integrated into your life, making things simpler for you and your family”, said Petersen. “We conducted extensive research, listened to our customers and worked hard to build a single integrated solution with an unmatched set of assets all built around our customer’s needs.”