Thunderbolt 3 Dock helps you get the most out of your MacBook Pro

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Accessory maker Elgato unveiled its new Thunderbolt 3 Dock at CES, offering a way for users to connect a pair of 4K displays to their new MacBook Pro, in addition to plenty of other legacy connection options.

Costing $299, it promises to stand in for the plethora of dongles you’ll need as the tech world makes the jump to Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.

It comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a single DisplayPort, three USB 3.0 ports, microphone jack, headphone jack, a gigabit Ethernet port and more.

At its price point, this is probably going to be aimed at higher-end “pro” consumers, but it’ll certainly save you the hassle of having to sort through a ton of adapters to get the most out of your new MacBook. There’s sadly no SD card reader, though.

Elgato’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock is set to arrive in Apple retail stores this month.

HomeKit extender

The Thunderbolt 3 Dock isn’t the only nifty Apple-related product Elgato is debuting at CES. Its Eve Extend device also offers a means by which to extend the Bluetooth range of HomeKit devices by connecting to your home Wi-Fi.

That’s particularly useful if you have a big house, or simply want to place HomeKit-compatible devices on the edge of your Wi-Fi network. You can operate multiple Eve Extend devices at the same time — and even use them to control connected devices outside your home, provided that’s not out of range.

No pricing has yet been announced.

Philips Announces New Hue Bulbs, Hue Bridge 2.0 With HomeKit Compatibility

Philips today announced its first HomeKit-enabled product, debuting the Hue Bridge 2.0, an updated version of its original Hue Bridge. With the Hue Bridge 2.0, its line of Philips Hue lights are able to work with Apple’s home automation platform, allowing all existing and future Hue bulbs to be controlled with Siri voice commands.

Commands like “Turn lights red” can be used for specific colors, while commands like “Set the lamp to 30 percent” can be used for dimming. Lighting scenes that have long been available in the Philips Hue app can now be turned on using Siri. With HomeKit integration, an entire household of lights can be manipulated with a single command.

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While most HomeKit apps support other HomeKit products, the Hue app will work differently. It can be used to control the Hue line of lights and set up light-specific scenes, but it is not able to incorporate other HomeKit products. Hue lighting scenes will be made available in other HomeKit apps, however, so it is possible to group the Hue lights with other products, using one command to do things like unlock a door and turn on the lights at the same time.

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“Lighting is the most accessible aspect of the connected home, and as the lighting expert for the Internet of Things we are taking connected lighting to the next phase,” said Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer at Philips Lighting. “By integrating Philips Hue with Apple HomeKit, we are broadening people’s experience of light beyond what has been previously possible, providing seamless interoperability with other connected home devices.”

The new Hue Bridge 2.0 looks similar to the existing Hue Bridge, but it is square like the Apple TV rather than round. Along with the new bridge, Philips is also debuting a new set of lights. The new Hue bulbs are somewhat brighter at 800 lumens instead of 600 lumens.

The original Hue Bridge will not be updated with HomeKit compatibility as it does not have the necessary hardware, but Philips plans to continue to support it with software updates. Original Hue Bridge owners will need to purchase a Hue Bridge 2.0 to access HomeKit, but will get a discount of $20 on the product.

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The new Hue Bridge 2.0 is priced at $60, but customers who own an existing Hue Bridge can get it for $40. The full lighting kit with new bulbs and the new bridge is priced at $200. All new Hue products are available beginning October 6 from  Amazon.

This is Philips’ $60 bridge to connect Hue lights to Apple’s Siri-controlled HomeKit platform.

Following confirmation from Philips that it plans to support Apple’s HomeKit platform for its popular iPhone-controlled Hue lighting system, images of a bridge device that will let existing Hue products work with Apple’s platform have leaked online.

Accessory makers can’t add support for Apple’s HomeKit to products with software alone, but earlier this year we detailed Apple’s specs for building HomeKit hardware bridges that will allow existing home automation products to tap into the platform. Philips appears to be planning an imminent launch of such a device as images leak online through a lighting retailer in the Netherlands that jumped the gun on an official launch. 

philips-hue-bridge-voor-homekitIn the image to the right we get our first look at the small Apple TV-looking “Hue Bridge” device that will allow the current lineup of Philips Hue lights to interface with HomeKit. In exchange, Hue users that invest in the bridge will gain access to Siri voice commands for controlling lights and likely other HomeKit features for grouping devices through an update to Philips’ companion app. 

No word yet on an official launch from Philips on the Hue Bridge, but the retailer listed a sales price of 60 euros before removing the listing earlier today (pictured below).

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We’d expect Apple will talk more about HomeKit at its upcoming press event on September 9th later this month. We reported that Apple is planning to introduce a new Apple TV, which acts as a hub for remote access to the Siri-controlled HomeKit platform, alongside new iPhones and an official launch for iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.

GE announces Siri-controlled, color-changing LED lighting with support for HomeKit.

GE announced today that it’s introducing HomeKit enabled LED lighting products offering Siri-controlled solutions for both the home and enterprise. With support for Apple’s new HomeKit framework, users will be able to control the lights from their iOS device using Siri.

The company noted that the new line of GE HomeKit lighting will also include its GE Align technology that “tunes the light spectrum to help promote the body’s natural sleep cycle by controlling the blue concentration of light output.”

Embedded with GE Align™ technology, GE’s HomeKit-enabled LED bulb takes smart home technology a step further, giving consumers the ability to automate lighting according to the body’s natural sleep circadian rhythm. Lighting impacts our sleep patterns, and GE Align tunes the light spectrum to help promote the body’s natural sleep cycle by controlling the blue concentration of light output. In the morning, GE Align produces a bright, bluer tone that suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, and in the evening it produces an amber light, reminiscent of candlelight and campfires.

After announcing HomeKit with iOS 8 and beginning to accept product plans through its Made-for-iPhone accessory licensing program, a number of companies began showing off upcoming solutions using the platform at CES. The majority of accessories were planning a launch for later in 2015 and that includes GE’s new lightning products announced today. 

Earlier this year we detailed Apple’s specs for accessory makers when it comes to compatibility with competing home automation platform as well as restrictions for security in the home.

Smart home is about to blow up thanks to Apple.

HomeKit Hardware is coming soon. Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple’s splash into home automation with addition of HomeKit to iOS 8 is expected to have a huge impact on sales of smart home devices in 2015 according to a Park Associates report that found 37% of U.S. households plan to purchase one or more devices next year.

The rising popularity in smart home device sales has been aided by both Apple and Google introducing new solutions in 2014. The research firm discovered retailers are getting ready for smart home devices to hit the mainstream by expanding shelf space for items like Nest thermometers, Philips Hue bulbs, smart door locks and other items.

“Best Buy in particular is devoting over 800 square feet in some locations to its connected home initiative. The entry of big brands like Apple, Google, and Honeywell is also increasing consumer awareness and making smart home devices popular as gifts.”

Apple began its push into the smart home market by allowing developers to use the HomeKit framework in iOS to control smart accessories in the home. HomeKit lets iOS device users to discover, configure and control accessories, as well as use Siri to trigger actions.

Smart thermostats are the most popular smart home purchases right now, accounting for 27% of device sales in the first three quarters of 2014. About 32% of smart devices were bought as gifts in 2013, but Parks and Associates analysts expect the shopping season to push 2014’s final numbers past last year’s mark.

After surveying 10,000 households, the firm found that smart lights will be the most popular purchase in 2014, with programmable thermostats dropping to fourth place now that competing products like smart appliances are becoming popular.

Here’s the full breakdown on what consumers intend to buy next year:

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iDevices talks working w/ Apple to fast track HomeKit product development w/ its own SDK.

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Apple introduced HomeKit during its WWDC Keynote presentation last June. Since then we’ve heard HomeKit-enabled chips are on the move, but you still can’t buy a HomeKit-certified device. They are on the way, however, as Apple just started accepting product plans from manufacturers following a yearly summit for companies in its Made-for-iPhone program.

iDevices, maker of the iGrill, is hoping it’ll help push HomeKit into the mainstream. Since early last year, the Connecticut-based company has invested over 10 million dollars into HomeKit development and has been closely working with Apple to create its own HomeKit SDK. We recently spoke with the CEO of iDevices to learn more about how the company is working with Apple to build its own HomeKit SDK meant to help fast track hardware product development for the platform.

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The purpose of this SDK is to enable other companies to bring HomeKit-certified devices to market much quicker. Chris Allen, CEO of iDevices, describes how his company’s future SDK complements Apple’s HomeKit support:

Apple’s done a great job of putting the framework together – of how to build this home automation space, but there’s still a gap. It [iDevice’s platform] looks like a bridge… from where Apple leaves you in their existing product SDK … and where it has to go to be a fully in-market product. And that middle layer of software is what we’ve created.

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iDevices will be the first company to offer a service of this kind. The goal is to help other companies who may lack the money or know-how to meet Apple’s strict HomeKit requirements, to bring a home automation product to market without going bankrupt or taking an exorbitant amount of time.

On average, iDevice’s partners can expect to bring a HomeKit compliant product to market 9 to 12 months faster, but it’s possible some quick-moving companies could get the job done in as little as 6 months thanks to iDevices’ platform. Allen thinks it’s key for his company and others to embrace HomeKit:

I’d rather be on the back of an 800 pound gorilla, integrating, playing nice with them, then being the nail under their foot trying to force integration.

In addition to the iDevices Platform, Allen says iDevices is on track to unveil its first HomeKit-enabled product and several high-profile partnerships next month during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. We’ll be on hand at CES to bring you all of these announcements and more.

iDevices’s HomeKit SDK is available now for partners.

Apple’s HomeKit partner Honeywell launches Lyric smart thermostat Nest competitor.

Just like the Nest smart thermostat, you can control your climate remotely from the mobile software without having to interact with the display, automate your thermostat to adjust to the right temperature, and let it learn from your schedule to save you money and be more efficiently.

Unlike the Nest smart thermostat, however, it’s not owned by Google. This alone makes it prime for Apple to promote and an option for iPhone and iPad users that don’t trust the new Google-owned Nest.

Apple, of course, still sells the Nest thermostat through its retail channels, but you have to imagine Apple will be pleased to offer a smart thermostat option that isn’t owned by one of its
direct competitors. Apple’s SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller even went as far as unfollowing Nest CEO and former Apple iPodfather Tony Fadell following the purchase from Google; there just hasn’t been a prominent competitor to the Nest smart thermostat thus far.

In terms of differentiating itself from the Nest, Honeywell says its Lyric thermostat includes a Fine Tune feature can intelligently adjust the temperature based on “indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, and weather” as part of its algorithm, something it says others do not do

Source: 9to5Mac.