USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Summer is winding down and that means the return to the classroom just around the corner, however, the school supply list isn't the only way to prep for the upcoming academic year. Outfitting your residence with smart home gadgets can make the busy back-to-school-season easier for the whole family. Does your student walk home from school? A digital smart lock can be a lifesaver if your child ever loses his or her house keys. Don't want your child fiddling with the air conditioner after coming home from soccer practice?

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: The battle begins


Editors' note, October 4, 2016: This piece has been updated after Google's event showcasing new details of the Home. Google announced the Google Home in May. After its October 4th launch event, the company showed the always-listening virtual assistant in detail, complete with lots of highlights of how Google Home can best its primary competition -- the Amazon Echo. Just like with Echo, you can use your voice to tell Home to add an event to your calendar, set the temperature of your thermostat, or stream your favorite song. Google's three part strategy to take Alexa down a peg.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: The best AI for home security


Amazon's Echo has long ruled the smart home market, but Google Home's recent updates make it a contender for the top slot. The smart home market is evolving faster than you can say "third-party device," and the competition between these heavyweight companies is good for your wallet. Understanding the pros and cons of each platform is essential, especially when integrating home security devices.

10 things to make you feel like you're living in HGTV's Smart Home

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Since 2008, HGTV has built--and given away--12 brand new houses outfitted with the latest smart home products. Located in Roanoke, Texas, a 33-mile drive from Dallas, the 2019 HGTV Smart Home is valued at over $1.2 million. Step inside of the Old World oasis, and the home you'll find is anything but archaic. The impressive smart home is loaded with dimmers, switches, light bulbs, shower systems, toilets, and more--all of which can be controlled by voice, tablet, or smartphone. Although a winner for the latest HGTV Smart Home has already been selected, there's no reason you can't create your own "smart home" with the help of the right products.

Google Assistant now works with over 5,000 smart devices, but Alexa is still far in the lead


The smart home assistant battle has shifted. No longer is it about how well your speaker can understand what you're saying, it's about how many devices can understand what it's telling them to do. And Google Assistant just made a big leap in that department. Google has announced that Assistant can connect with more than 5,000 devices for your home, an increase of nearly 250 percent from January's 1,500 devices. That includes many of Google's own devices such as Chromecast, Nest thermostats and cameras, as well as popular smart home devices from a variety of manufacturers.