ecobee4 HomeKit Smart Thermostat Teased Ahead of May 5 Unveiling

Smart thermostat maker ecobee is teasing its upcoming ecobee4, which is set to debut on May 3rd. The new model is rumored to include a built-in microphone and speaker with Amazon Alexa voice control built-in. ecobee4 will reportedly have a sleeker, yet familiar, design and the separate room sensors are said to be silver instead of white. The company also lowered the ecobee3 price ahead of next week’s announcement from US$249 to $199. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a full-features smart thermostat that’s also HomeKit compatible. If you want to follow along with ecobee’s announcements next Wednesday you’ll need to head over to the company’s Facebook page.

Apple Updates HomeKit Automation Webpage

Apple updated its HomeKit page with a fresh, new look. It includes a brief video that shows the power of HomeKit automation with iOS 10. Examples in the video include lights, window shades, coffee makers, door locks and thermostats. Apple also has several sections that give details of different areas of the Home app.

Apple and Worker Visas, HomeKit Falls Behind in the Smarthome Game - TMO Daily Observations 2017-01-31

Work Visas for the tech industry may be changing thanks to an executive order that’s said to be coming from the White House. Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join Jeff Gamet to look at the draft order and the impact it could have on Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. They also have some thoughts on the rapidly changing smart home market and Apple’s apparent lagging position.

Sylvania Announces Smartbulbs for Apple HomeKit, No Hub Required [Update]

Sylvania announced Tuesday it was launching an LED smartbulb in its LEDVANCE product line with support for Apple’s HomeKit (yay!). Better yet, the Smart Multicolor A19 doesn’t require a hub—just plug it in, find it with Apple’s Home app, and you’re good to go. Sylvania said the device will be sold through Amazon and ship in “early 2017.” This will be a great addition to the HomeKit ecosystem. To that end, I’ve been seeing more HomeKit stuff in my inbox during the last few weeks for CES 2017. It’s almost as if Apple’s smarthome platform is finally coming alive. Let’s hope, at any rate. I’ve left messages with Sylvania reps asking about pricing, which wasn’t announced. Sylvania also didn’t release images of the new bulb—the image below is of current products in the company’s smartbulb line. [Update: Sylvania’s PR folks got back to me—pricing is definitely unannounced. I also added a rendered image of the A19. We’ll be visiting with the company next week at CES. – Bryan]

Apple Fixes Two-Factor Authentication Setup Bug

HomeKit in iOS 10 requires Two-Factor authentication if you plan to remotely control or monitor your smarthome devices. That isn’t a big deal, unless you’re one of the unlucky few who were blocked from switchting to Apple’s more secure password authentication system. The good news is that Apple finally fixed the issue, so HomeKit can be more that your in-home personal assistant again.

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