LAS VEGAS – TiVo has been making a lot of changes to its user interface lately, and it’s not all just on the surface. Under-the-hood they’ve added some hooks and been hard at work putting all the pieces together for some pretty impressive third-party integrations. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integrations are pretty far along, and TiVo is close to getting certifications for both of those, likely being available before the end of February. More than just turning TiVo on and off, these voice assistant integrations allow for fairly granular controls, including channel changing, play/pause, rewind, and even commercial skip. IFTTT integrations take this one step further, allowing bidirectional communications. This means TiVo could tell IFTTT that the “press D to Skip” icon is on the screen, and that could trigger an IFTTT skill to send the “skip” message back to TiVo. Yep, auto-skip is available and I’ve seen it in action! Even better news: IFTTT integration will work all the way back to Series 4 (Premier) units and doesn’t require the new Hydra UI (except auto-skip actually will require Hydra, at least at launch). Look for more from TiVo soon.
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Catalyst is still one of the only companies to offer a case for your AirPods, and now have won a CES Innovation Award for it. They were showing off the case and its new colors at CES Unveiled on Sunday. With most people just now having finally gotten AirPods, I figured this was a good time to call this a Cool Stuff Found for you all.
LAS VEGAS – Ring, maker of video doorbells and security cams, added an entire home security kit to its lineup today. The US$199 Ring Alarm Home Security System starter bundle includes a keypad, Base Station (with siren), motion sensor, and door/window sensor. Additional motion and door/window sensors can be added to the system, of course. On its own, the Ring Alarm will send alerts to your iPhone, but it can also be paired with an optional professional monitoring service and cellular backup service for $10/month. The nice part is, if you’re comfortable doing your own monitoring with your iPhone, you don’t need to ever pay a monthly fee. Just set the Ring Alarm system up, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and let it do its thing and alert you when something is awry. The Ring Alarm system will be available coming in 2018.
LAS VEGAS – At CES this week JBL announced the new Link 500 voice-activated, multi-room speaker at the top end of the Link line. Link is JBL’s Wi-Fi-enabled, voice-controlled line of speakers, all with Google Assistant built-in. Besting it’s smaller sibling, the Link 300, the new 500 adds a second woofer and second tweeter and boosts the total output to 60 watts. We recently discussed the Link product line on Mac Geek Gab 685 and it’s the first set of speakers that makes me think someone could have multi-room audio from a company other than Sonos. Supporting both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Link has some options many smart speakers don’t, including portability: the Link 10 and 20 both have batteries that can power them each for hours of synced, wireless playback. The JBL Link 500 is available today for preorder for US$399.95, and is expected to ship on February 1.
LAS VEGAS – Reliefband Sunday released Reliefband 2.0, their updated wrist-worn nausea-prevention device. Showed last year at CES under the “Reliefband Neurowave” name, it’s now been retooled and is ready for purchase this week as Reliefband 2.0. This adds a stunning new form factor and includes hypoallergenic 316L surgical steel contacts, wrapped in a latex-free band with a battery that lasts for 24-26 hours of constant nausea relief. Reliefband targets a nausea-reducing acupressure point on the underside of your wrist, and combines this with TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to trigger both the median and vagal nerves, resulting in nearly immediate, drug-free relief of nausea in most users. Users (or at least this user!) will experience tingling electrical impulses, the strength of which can be controlled on the band itself. Reliefband 2.0 looks like a fitness tracker and is targeted at anyone with nausea, including cancer patients, cruise-ship passengers, post-op care, and others. Reliefband 2.0 was released Sunday and will be available for purchase for US$175 this week.
LAS VEGAS – Kwilt Shoebox was showing off their private cloud storage device at CES Unveiled Sunday, giving iPhone users an easy way to back up, offload, and view all your photos and videos.
LAS VEGAS – Homeowners (and probably insurance carriers!) can rejoice at the Guardian automated leak prevention system, shipping today. The system is entirely do-it-yourself and requires no plumbing to be done at all. Simply clamp the main unit onto the pipe where your water main control valve is, and then set the Wi-Fi-connected sensors in strategic locations around the house. When one of the sensors detects a leak, the system’s automated motor closes the valve to prevent water damage from a constantly-fed open pipe. Each sensor has a 15-year battery inside it. We think that’s long enough to get your money out of the system and move on to something else cool in 10 years! Guardian also includes a temperature sensor to help prevent against water damage from frozen pipes. At 45F the system starts sending alerts to your iPhone; at 40F it shuts off your water. The iOS app can also be used to control and monitor the system remotely. A kit with the battery-backed base unit and three Wi-Fi sensors is priced at US$399, and you can add more sensors whenever you like.
Apple’s macOS High Sierra introduced enough performance enhancements that my dual-core, 2011 MacBook Air felt like it had new life breathed into it. Occasionally, though – and more and more frequently recently – events would cascade such that my CPU would run at full tilt for 5-10 minutes before finally settling in. When that was happening, Activity Monitor and/or iStat Menus would show two system processes chewing up CPU: tailspind and spindump. Thankfully, we now know how to stop that.
This is the time of year when package deliveries are happening every day. It can be helpful to know when something’s coming so that you don’t miss it, but sometimes you don’t get a tracking number ahead of time. Sometimes you don’t even know that a package is coming at all. In today’s Mac Geek Gab Highlight, listen to this short segment to learn how to get notifications about incoming packages… and then how to track them once you know about them!
Sorting through the mesh wireless systems available today can be tricky. Read on, and we’ll teach you how to decide which one is best for you. [Update: Added Orbi’s new Ethernet backhaul, Orbi’s change to using Disney’s Circle for parental controls, and Google Wi-Fi’s LAN IP customization. Also added KRACK patches for Orbi, Google Wi-Fi, Luma, Deco. – Dave]
John Martellaro and Bryan Chaffin join guest-host Dave Hamilton to discuss Jony Ive’s returned focus on products at Apple. Also: Bitcoin surged… why?
It is my pleasure to welcome Timing as this week’s sponsor here at TMO. I am an efficiency freak. I have a lot to get done, a lot I want to do, and yet I often get to the end of my day and wonder, “where did the time go?” For the past week I’ve been using Timing and this problem is 100% solved. You can start using Timing, too, and by visiting TimingApp.com/MacObserver you not only get a 14-day free trial, you also qualify for a TMO-exclusive 10% discount when you purchase!
Starting December 2nd, there’s a bug that causes some notifications to crash your iPhone. iOS 11.2 is the fix, and we’ll show you how to apply it and avoid these 12/2 crashes.
Are you someone who finds Live Photos on your iPhone annoying and turns the feature off? If so, listen to this Mac Geek Gab Highlight, to learn how I had my mind blown when presented with the concept of using Live Photos as a form of “permanent burst mode”. Doing this means the best picture is almost always there on your iPhone, even long after the fact!
We’re keeping an up-to-date list of KRACK-related router firmware updates so you can find out if one is available for your router. (Update, 22-Nov-2017, 1:30pm EST: Added info from Linksys about their recent KRACK updates)
During this week’s Mac Geek Gab 679 we discussed how many people have emailed us asking for a macOS Sierra 10.12 installer download link… and no one can seem to find one. Searching the Mac App Store yields nothing and, thus far, there’s no Apple knowledgebase article with a link to it (Update: that KB article now exists). MGG Listener “Kirk van” came to the rescue with this Mac App Store download link to the macOS Sierra 10.12.6 Installer.
The movie studios let you add digital movies to your library for two dollars, and Apple’s reality distortion field is still strong – and perhaps self-inflicted – and that’s what Kelly Guimont and John Martellaro discuss with guest-host Dave Hamilton on today’s TDO. Press play… and enjoy!
Sonos’s new Alexa support doesn’t offer full control for Apple Music, but next year’s AirPlay 2 integration might just provide Apple Music subscribers full voice-control of their Sonos sytems.
NEW YORK CITY – Similar in size and form to Sonos’s popular PLAY:1, the Sonos One adds a six-microphone array to give it far-field voice recognition capability, and will ship on October 24th with support for Alexa baked right in.