If you've been waiting to upgrade your home with the latest gear, this weekend might be the time to do so. From robot vacuums to Instant Pots, there are a number of great sales for connected appliances and kitchen gadgets for Memorial Day this year. As you can imagine, there are quite a lot of them, so we've collected some of the best ones below. Anker's Eufy RoboVac 11S is one of our favorite budget robot vacuums thanks to its slim profile, smart features and affordable price. It doesn't have WiFi, but it does have a remote control.
Google announced on Wednesday at its I/O 2022 convention that it plans to finally launch Matter, its new but delayed smart home industry standard later this year, and has explained how it will work in home ecosystems. Matter, developed in collaboration with Apple, Amazon, and the Zigbee Alliance among others, will let users connect all enabled devices to Google Home and control them both locally and remotely with the Google Home app, including smart home controls on Androids and Google Assistant. Matter controllers will include the original Google Home speaker, Google Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, Nest Audio and Nest Wifi. Devices will connect using Fast Pair and will feature multiple compatible voice control systems and networking protocols, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, as well as Thread. While the Fast Pair feature has previously been used for headphones and audio gear, Google announced that it will soon be able to sync lightbulbs and smart plugs with Android and Nest devices. "With Matter, there's no need to build multiple versions of a smart home device to work across different ecosystems.
Google plans to finally launch its new smart home industry standard called Matter this fall. Devices will all connect quickly and easily using Fast Pair and the platform will support a variety of voice assistants and networking protocols. Those include Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri as well as WiFi, Thread and Bluetooth LE. While Fast Pair feature has been used for headphones and audio gear, the company is working to use it for more things, including syncing lightbulbs and smart plugs with Android and Nest devices. You'll be able to scan a code with your phone to get things rolling, which should be quicker and easier than the current method for adding new gear to your arsenal.
The smart home ecosystem is getting a little more integrated: Google just updated its Amazon Alexa Skill to work on its latest Nest cameras. So if you already own a variety of Nest and Alexa devices, they'll work together more seamlessly moving forward. Now, you can stream live feeds from your Nest cameras, doorbells and other devices to anything from your Amazon Fire TV to any Echo device. Amazon made a similar gesture to open up its own smart home ecosystem last month, when it announced that its doorbells and security cameras would work with Google Nest, Ring, Abode and other third-party devices. Amazon's Ring doorbell already works with Google Home and Apple Homekit.
You know what Alexa does. She turns on your lights. She answers your math questions. She's your canister of helpfulness wherever your voice can be heard in your house. She does everything you need, that you should be able to do yourself. And, as long as she doesn't wake up one morning, decide to take over the world, and murder us in our beds, she'll be a friend to us all. But Alexa is more than the Echo, that black Pringles Can of Doom we met back in November 2014. Since the Echo was introduced, Amazon has been fielding a plethora of Alexas, a veritable Alexapalooza of devices. Since Alexa answers "Sorry, I don't know that one," to "Alexa, which Alexa should I buy," we figured we'd help out.
If you missed the sale last month on the Nest Thermostat, you have another chance to grab the smart home gadget for even less now. Amazon has the snow colored WiFi thermostat for $93, or 29 percent off its normal price. This isn't an all-time low -- the device briefly dropped to $80 during Black Friday weekend last year -- but this is the best price we've seen since then. Google debuted the Nest Thermostat in 2020 as an affordable alternative to the Nest Learning Thermostat. You'll notice a big difference in the design of the two gadgets: the Nest Thermostat is slimmer than its Learning counterpart and has a mirrored display, along with a touch-sensitive bezel that you can use to manually adjust temperature settings.
While we saw Amazon's new smart thermostat go on sale earlier this week, now you can get the more advanced Google Nest Thermostat for less, too. The smart home gadget is down to $99 at Amazon right now, which is 24 percent off its normal price and close to its all-time low. All colors have been discounted and you can get the device with a trim kit for only $114, or 21 percent less than usual. Normally $130, the Energy Star-certified Nest Thermostat came out in 2020 as an affordable alternative to Google's Nest Learning Thermostat. The standard model doesn't have the luxury materials or the hi-res display that the Learning model does, but the biggest selling points remain the same.
Looking back at 2021 it was a different kind of year for voice AI than in the past. We could have said that in 2020 as well, but that was true on every societal and economic level due to the pandemic. However, we saw the seeds of change in the voice AI industry in late 2019 that was paused briefly and then accelerated in 2020 which set up 2021 to be the year of enterprise adoption. Voice AI news, innovation, and investment were largely driven by consumer applications in the period 2016 – 2019. Amazon, Google, and Apple (and occasionally Samsung) dominated the headlines related to the technology.
Your Amazon Alexa has the ability to say some creepy things, but what one told a 10-year-old girl is outright disturbing. Twitter user Kristin Livdahl took to the social media platform on Sunday to break down what happened. Her daughter asked Alexa for a challenge, and the response wasn't only surprising, but dangerous. "The challenge is simple," said Alexa. "Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs."