All over the internet there are four issues that keep arising with regards to false information about the Apple Watch. I’m a REAL Apple Watch user and I would like to dispel them below.
1. You can’t use the Apple Watch without being near Bluetooth range of your phone
False. The Apple Watch uses WiFi when not connected directly to your device. Yes, you need to first pair your device with the phone and then you can walk all over as long as you are connected to a previously setup WiFi network (on the phone).
Apple Watch uses Bluetooth® wireless technology to connect to its paired iPhone and uses the iPhone for many wireless functions. Apple Watch can’t configure new Wi-Fi networks on its own, but it can connect to Wi-Fi networks you’ve set up on the paired iPhone.
2. The battery will not last a day
False. I have had an Apple Watch for three weeks and not once has it gone into reserve mode. I usually end up with 30-50% of my battery left over. I also use the watch a lot using Siri, ‘Workout mode’ for 30 minutes a day (it uses the heart rate monitor to calculate calories), get a ton of emails and texts etc. I’m not quite sure why this is still talked about.
3. The Apple Watch doesn’t do much
This is quite hilarious to me as I literally can almost do everything on my watch that I can do on my phone. Right now, my phone stays in my pocket unless the Apple Watch Siri doesn’t quite translate what I’m asking it to do so well. In conjunction with this Siri hack, I can make it do anything. Things that people don’t realize that it does are as follows:
- Check the LIVE view on an IP camera
- Control iTunes on your PC through the native Remote app
- Check my current nutrient levels through MyFitnessPal
- Pay with Apple Pay
- Make calls on the watch
- Messaging is definitely the best part. Using a button for Siri and then texting messages makes communication extremely easy
- Reminding yourself becomes extremely easy with the Reminders Nano app (with the Glance enabled).
- Take it for runs and use it as my Music Controller (it holds music) and can Bluetooth to it’s own devices.
- Home Automation is awesome with the Home Remote app. I have been in direct contact with the developer and he is extremely responsive and is in the middle of making some awesome changes to the app to enable smart iBeacons (the ability to click notification actions based on hyper-location)
While Apple said that it’s not officially waterproof, there are countless people out there that are making swimming apps and hoping that Apple approves them.
We hope that clears up some confusion about the Apple Watch. Most of the major concerns people have with regards to the above issues aren’t issues. The biggest issue I have with it is going to be fixed with WatchOS 2.
AutoIt is an amazing tool for home automation or any Windows automation for that matter. Below we discuss some sample scripts to integrate your PC with most API’s and services with some sample scripts to get you started. Remember that if you are looking to get started with AutoIt and your own automation hub please look at their API. We have listed all the API links on the hub page.
Recording Your Tasks
This is the most powerful tool with regards to AutoIt. You can simply click the toolbar ‘Tools’ option and click AU3Recorder and begin doing the task that you would like to run.
Task Scheduler to Run Commands
Task Scheduler Tutorial
AutoIt Favourite Links
UDF’s are a way to interact with programs using AutoIt’s simple scripting language. We will list a few of our favourites to help get you started.
- iTunes UDF: This UDF allows you to add automation techniques to your AutoIt scripts within iTunes. I use this one to play playlists from my Pebble watch, change the volume, pause and play music.
- Gmail Remote Monitor: I love this one as you can send an email and then launch commands locally on a PC. As long as the syntax is a certain way it can launch commands. Great for IFTTT integration.
- Spotify:Spotify is an awesome music service and software platform to control your music.
Let Us Know Your Favourite Ways To Use AutoIt
IFTTT is an incredible tool. You can do almost anything from creating fancy lighting recipes that once you email yourself it can turn on your HUE lights. We talk about the most useful recipes that you won’t find on other automation websites.
All of these you can do yourself:
We cover some of the least common DIY home automation recipes found on the net. We give you the power to do things that plain old automation hubs can’t do at this moment. These recipes require software either on your Android, Windows PC, iPhone, iPad or MacBook. All these recipes usually help tie in lots of capabilities into your already available automation system. If we display a recipe that isn’t exactly like your system we suggest that you use the same idea and apply it to your own. Most automation systems have an API that differ slightly and can easily be adapted.
Latest DIY Recipes
- Recipe: Turn LED Strip Red Before an Appointment (10/8/2014) - Software Used Zapier, AutoRemote, Tasker, Smart Remote(app) Hardware Required IR android device, LED Strips Steps Begin with creating a new Zapier task that has: Trigger: Google Calendar and Event Start Action: AutoRemote and New Message Under #4 Only trigger an event start from Google Calendar when:Time before: 45 minutes #5 Enter the text that you will create a new filter
- Talking Tablet Recipe (10/12/2014) - Software or Services Used Tasker, AutoNotification, IFTTT Hardware Any > 4.0 Android Device Possible Uses Welcome home “Hello Rod” Tell you the weather Tell you what’s happening around you Notify you of any earthquakes There is motion in another room Warning This can get annoying for the people around you if this feature isn’t used
- Connect iOS and Android Together for Home Automation (10/21/2014) - What is this? Android is a lot easier when doing home automation tasks and this appears to be the best way to link your devices together using a little trick. Software AutoRemote, Now Now, Google Search, Tasker, Activator, GooGiri Hardware iOS 7 with Jailbreak and an Android with AutoRemote and Tasker installed. Steps Setup GooGiri,
Apple makes amazingly intuitive products. It also restricts the capability of them to limit the ‘options’ users have to make it easy for just about everyone to pick it up and use it. When using your iPhone with Home Automation you’re limited in what you can do without opening that up.
Step 1: Jailbreak and then keep reading
Don’t want to? You’re going to need to link Siri to an Android device.
Home Automation on an iPhone without a jailbreak (learn how) is pretty painful as there is far more interesting things you can do with your device that you need to unleash.
Top 10 Automation Tweaks
Just having activator is a good start but you also need to get some tweaks to make your system more integrated. There are a few MUST haves and we break them down for you.
Best Products for iOS
iOS has a lot of accessories and we breakdown the best accessories for automation that will improve your iPads functionality and make your iPhone double as a wallet/key etc.
Automating your home and phone can be a tedious task. Depending on how you do it, it can be a waste of time or if you backup you can have your ‘profiles’ and info forever.
There are two major brands which we will discuss:
The single most common question I get asked is:
Question: Which is the better platform for home automation?
Answer: Before iOS 8 and without jailbreaking the iOS 7 device it’s hands down the Android ecosystem. There is EVERYTHING you could want with android 4.2 and above. The only thing that Android is missing is a good iBeacon native code to interact with.
Now that iOS 8 has arrived with ‘intent’ style accessibility between applications, HomeKit, HealthKit, iBeacons etc. there shouldn’t be that big of a difference if all the same tweaks are developed from iOS 7 to iOS 8 for jailbreaking. A jailbroken device in the iOS ecosystem is a must if you want to take advantage of the full potential to what is possible. Click on your ecosystem below to find out how to optimize your system.
Join the discussion on which platform is better below
There are several ways to automate your music at home. There are several purposes for this:
- You wake up in the morning and want the local radio station to play while you’re getting ready.
- You want weather news/radio while getting dressed.
- You want new spotify workout music play when you enter the gym at 730pm
- You want the music to lower volume (or turn off) when your wife enters the room.
- You want a scene for a dance party to play all over your house.
- You only want your living room and basement playing music.
There are many options to do it. They are:
- Control4, Crestron
- Multi-room Receiver with amps built-in
- XBMC and Airplay
- Bluetooth Receivers to Speakers
Each provide unique advantages and ease of use along with different levels of quality. It goes without saying that using WiFi to sync audio around your house is pretty much a bad idea. WiFi can be spotty at times, routers can get slow and things aren’t reliable. Always aim for a wired solution.
Option 1: Sonos with their speakers
For comparison of all the products we will use an example of 6 rooms.
Calculation: (219 (speakers) X6 +50 (bridge))=$1364 (depending on source)
- Sonos is the easy way. Plug them in and download the app and begin.
- You can easily integrate Sonos with most automation systems very easily.
- They have several options for integrating your system with the major hubs. There are plugins available.
- This one works well with Tasker: Macronos for Sonos
- Easy to plug into Connect, Play:5 and Connect AMP to listen to another source
- A lot more expensive than Airfoil, Moxivo and on par with some Multiroom (craigslist) amp solutions
- Can’t be in the wall (not a clean install)
- Not really easy to expand VS using a CPU with airfoil or XMBC to locally play video files to the same speakers
Option 2: Control4 and Crestron
These solutions are by far the most expensive and are very hard to really compare to these others. A 6 room system will definitely cost you $XXXX.00. You will not have to think about the technical aspects of it. You get get a Rep to come in and do it for you.
- It gets done for you.
- The sound is great and integrated perfectly the way YOU want it right from the install.
- If you have a problem you call someone in to fix it (also a disadvantage).
- The huge downside to this is integration with other products you want to add to your system you can’t unless you get one of their reps to do it.
- The three people I know with these systems are extremely happy with the results but they all don’t want to call a rep back in for extra work. This is for the automator with cash.
- From my knowledge there is no GET API to integrate third party products. To me this is a deal breaker but I already thought that by the price.
Airfoil | A great AirPlay app for every platform
What is it?
Airfoil is an app you can install on your PC or Mac and have it transmit any audio source from your PC to any AirPlay or Airfoil Speakers. You can install Airfoil speakers on almost every platform. Therefore you can have an instant multiroom audio setup almost instantly if you have tablets, phones and PC’s already in each room.
- This is where it gets tricky. You need a license for your Windows and Macs. Once you purchase those you can download the free airfoil speakers apps and begin.
- Approximately 50-80 dollars in apps/licenses + Your cost in purchasing other tablets, PC’s etc.
- Depending on the type of AirPlay device there is latency time that can make or break the audio experience. Using Airfoil and Airfoil Speakers keeps that in check.
- Great support
- Very easy
- Easy to select different sources on the PC (spotify)
- Has an API to create scene based selectors for certain airplay devices
- Can also then send audio TO any speaker easily using an iPhone since they are all airplay speakers.
- If you could hardwire all your PC’s and MAC’s to and use Airfoil Speakers then it could be slick.
- If you have a busy wifi network and are using wifi only with this you will not be happy
- Different AirPlay speakers have different timing to output and you can hear it
Option 4: Moxivo | MultiRoom Audio through your Phone System
What is it?
It’s a cable to use your regular old school phone jack as an audio network throughout your house. You plug your source into the wall using the RCA or HEADPHONE to rj-45 and then plug in any powered speakers throughout the house anywhere there is a phone plug. Most houses have them in everyroom which makes this a really easy solution.
How would we make this smart?
Logitech computer speakers once plugged and powered on (with the button) in will stay on as long as there is power. The goal would be to power off the speaker that you are not using a AC Z-wave Switch. That way you could easily create scenes which control the rooms just by turning power on and off to each ‘speaker’.
Cost of 6 rooms
- 7 cables (40 bucks)
- CPU (you probably have one that you already control your music with)
- Logitech speakers (30 each on craigslist for decent 2.1 sound)
- Z-Wave AC 6 pack (100)
- Total: $320
- Using already there phone system
- Easy to create audio scenes as you just control the power to the speakers in your automation hub
- Use your existing app to control the CPU music
- You could get premium speakers and also double up them for other uses in each room.
- No automatic control of audio sound level as you have to manually change it by the physical dial in each room. It’s either ON or OFF.
- If there is noise on your phone line network it’s going to come through on your speakers.
- Not digital sound straight to the speakers (digital to analog).
Option 5: Multi-Room Amplifiers with 6 zones and Remote Control of them
A sample can be found on craigslist to control 6 zones. This one is $800 and then you’ll need to buy speakers. Since you do not need an amplifier you can just get any speakers you want to use and thus the sound will be of much higher quality and also has the potential to be a cleaner finish than say having stereos (with amps everywhere). MonoPrice.com in ceiling speakers can run around $50 each for the pair so you’re looking at $300+800+60(for cable)=$1160.
- Potential to have the best sound VS the Sonos, Airfoil and Moxivo
- Cleaner in-wall finish if you choose to go this route
- There are more expensive models but this one is a reasonable solution.
- New builds should go this route
- Can be controlled with an app, or IR tablet
- More expensive
- Need to run the speaker cable everywhere where you want speakers from the source.
- Not really a retrofit solution.
Option 6: XBMC/KODI with Airplay
XBMC (Or Kodi) is an amazing open sourced media solution. It allows you to share the same media source throughout the home. It also has an Airplay feature so you can turn any XBMC server into a speaker that can be selected.
The cost is all in the devices that you choose to run XBMC and if they have speakers you’ll need to get some.
- 6 XBMC Amazon FireTV‘s will cost 600. These will get you six locations around your home that you can then run a screen on and have a sound bar to.
- Can have one shared server with a shared database to combine your audio and video solution. It will be seamless and it’s what I use for my video.
- Your audio should be synced properly as long as all your devices are wired to a decent router.
- Easy to setup the Airplay solution.
- Can then stream any source form an iOS device to any room. Could also use the video option this way.
- This is my favourite solution since Tasker can be added to android boxes making this very easy to control.
- Might be expensive if you have to purchase 6 screens, 6 sound bars along with 6 android boxes
Option 7: Bluetooth Speakers
This option is very flexible and can retrofit any situation into a multiroom setup. The basics are as follows:
- Add Bluetooth receivers or Bluetooth speakers around where you want to have music
- Pair them to your audio source (will need Bluetooth) and then select where you want the music to play
- Retrofit any situation
- Moving around speakers is easy
- Doesn’t need a complicated API
- Could easily integrate with Tasker to turn the bluetooth connection on at any moment
- You could use a Bluetooth receiver and then plug in a more expensive audio system.
- Most Bluetooth speakers don’t usually have good bass
- Could not sync properly with all your rooms. You are at the mercy of the devices Bluetooth transfer rate and timing.
There are a lot of options and I probably missed a few but those are the majority of the decently priced options. There are always more expensive options with the multiroom receivers but based on the above my current solution is a combination of XBMC and AirFoil. I need the ability to display any video in any room and having a screen in each room with a media center there is easy to interact with using all the apps Android has. Airfoil gives me the ability to use iTunes as my server app and I can use AirFoil and scripts to select speakers when I walk into rooms (using iBeacons). I have a friend who uses the amp route and his sounds far better than my current Airfoil setup. It comes down to what your situation is and thinking about what you want to do with it. If you are looking to extend into one or two extra rooms you might want to go with the bluetooth option and see if that works for you.
Either way, let us know what you think in our forums below and if you think there is a better solution. Don’t forget to signup for our newsletter and Facebook page to get the latest updates and deals.[bbp-single-topic id=3920]
SmartThings VS Wink VS Vera VS Insteon VS Aeon USB Stick VS Tasker
Below is a comparison of the current major players in the home automation world. Since this is just getting competitive now the prices are still somewhat high. Prices will drop with the more entrants into this game. Ideally you have a box that isn’t dependant on a server but if price is an issue than you can try a different route (such as a USB stick or Tasker). Things to look for: Open API’s, Apps, Plugins, Z-wave, Wifi, Zigbee, Google Now or HomeKit Integration (iOS), Android Wear and iOS ‘Watch’ apps. Technologies: Z-wave is the technology you should be looking for as it has the biggest product catalog support and it’s extremely secure. BLE may be the future but right now the current future isn’t as developed as it should be. Zigbee is great but you are limited in the type of products you can purchase. WiFi only hubs such as a Tab 3 can be used to control your Philips Hue lights but there are far more Z-wave products to purchase.
Update Oct 18th, 2015:
There has been a lot of changes in the past year and the items below reflect the changes.
Above is V1 and the price is very low to reflect the older technology inside. It’s a great start if you’re looking for something cheap to get into the smart home technology.
- Open Platform
- Samsung purchased in 2014
- Works with X10, Zwave, BLE (V2 only)
- No monthy fees
- Easy visual builder
- Battery backup V2
- Need to open app and ‘clunk’ around to turn things on.
- Last time I checked they didn’t have a dimmer option. It was just turning lights on and off
Version two of the Smartthings hub have added bluetooth, an battery as a backup incase the power goes out, better processor and more RAM. It improves the speed of actions and provides a more reliable connection to your smart home. It also supports more video cameras (not just DropCam).
Here is a comparison image between V1 and V2: [/plan][plan title=”Vera Edge” featured=”true” price=”$99″ color=”teal-lite”]
- Newest Model (Late 2014-2015 Design)
- Best API and Plugins
- Biggest community
- Decent Apps
- Integration with Tasker
- Easy setup
- Great support
- Good design
We replace the VeraLite with the Vera Edge as it is a newer model with possible device connections (can connect up to 220 devices), more video camera controllers, latest gen technology.
We purchased this model and had some issues but their support team quickly rectified the issue and got it working. [/plan][plan title=”Insteon Hub” price=”$99-150″]
- SmartLinc has an API
- Apple, Android
- Been around for a long time
- X10 Compatible
- Can find cheap products on craigslist
- Not Z-Wave device compatible
- Not ZigBee device compatible
Why not the new Smart Hub PRO and a HomeKit Solution?
HomeKit isn’t ready yet for home automation; everything on your network has to be HomeKit compatible for Siri to see it. I wouldn’t recommend it yet and there are far better solutions (see Beecon voice technology) to control your system from your voice.[/plan][plan title=”USB Stick S.S. 2 ($35) or Gen 5 ($49)” price=”$35-50″]
- Need a windows PC to host software like InControl
- Cheap solution to integrate Z-Wave
- Lots of flexibility
- Integration with EventGhost
- Apple and Android Apps you can use
There is also a Generation 5 device (2015) like the one below
This model allows for all Aeon gen 5 products like their new LED’s. It will hopefully provide a more reliable connection than their Series 2 stick as well. [/plan][plan title=”Tasker with Wifi Solutions” price=”4.99″]
- Too many features to list with a ton of plugins
- Great app
- Cheapest Solution
- Software Based
- NO Z-wave or Zigbee
- Easy to learn
- Tons of tutorials
- Great for WiFi Only devices
- Need to be willing to learn
- The most flexibility
- Can be integrated with all these other hubs
- Can use Philips Hue (lights), Lockitron, or any other BLE connected device and skip the Z-Wave system products.
Sample GET request with Tasker[/plan][plan title=”Wink Connected Hub (NOTE!!!! Wink went bankrupt)” featured=”true” price=”49.99″]
- Lowest Price (they have also gone belly up and I dont recommend this solution)
- Great Technologies: WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron, Android Wear
- Good API
- Poor documentation (No setup)
- Spotty Z-Wave Support for all devices. Click the above link and browse through the reviews. They aren’t all pretty.
- Decent apps
- Once they improve on the integration with all Z-Wave products you will have a clear winner
- All of these products do pretty much the same thing
- They mostly all support WiFi, Z-Wave or ZigBee
- The Wink Connected hub that controls BLE, WiFi, Z-Wave, ZigBee is clearly the one that has the greatest potential. They just need to improve their firmware to work with all devices.
I personally like the Vera solution as it has enough features for the advanced techie but enough tutorials and help to support a mid to moderate newbie. There are a ton of plugins available and can easily integrate with Tasker. I do like the fact that it has it’s own hardware versus a USB stick as having a server running all the time isn’t very ‘green’. This is a long race so expect a few new players to enter the game and surprise us. We will keep you posted. Let us know what other
AutoVoice is another important app that you can’t live without if you want to get into Home Automation. It allows for custom commands and actions all through your voice. It also lets you search Google and integrates easily with Tasker. That’s why the logo lookos so much like Tasker because all these “Auto” apps are plugins for Tasker.
Most of these automation apps are free with a paid option to open up more features. All of these apps integrate with the ‘master’ one (Tasker). They either integrate with them through ‘intents’ or through the ‘state’ and ‘plugin’ profile section in Tasker.
Retune is an app which allows you to control your iTunes PC. I personally use it on my home screen as a widget for easy access when I walk by it loads up the home screen I use to control it. There are a few features I would add to it but it does do a good job for what it does.
Xposed Framework Installer and Bridge help your device reach it’s full potential. This has a lot of features that you are looking for in a true open source product. Some of the features include long clicking the home button and assinging it to a Tasker task. Maybe you want to triple click the headphones button to launch your RunKeeper app. There are a lot of possibilities.
Movement Detector will let you change your phones settings or launch Tasker tasks based on how the device is moving. It’s a very useful task for as a ‘confirmation’ type profile. I would use it more to let my device know im in the car or I’m walking fast (I’m usually going somewhere with directions). Running may open the running app.
Motion detector is an app that allows you to turn your android into a tasker acting motion detector. It can turn the screen on as you and take you to a custom ‘scene’; It could also turn it on to your screen saving app which shows your latest photos of the family from a rss feed made from ‘Yahoo Pipes’. There really are many opportunities.
Since the ideal tablet is the one that you can see from anywhere in your house it has to be the following:
- A really good price (buying 8 Nexus 7’s isn’t cheap).
- Have enough RAM not to lag. This would be a minimum of 1GB RAM and have any bloatware removed.
- Have as many sensors as we could on it. The most important features:
- Decent front camera
- Good microphones
- Good WiFi (Most of the cheap tablets you buy from dealextreme and focalprice have terrible range)
- Ideally has IR for adding the cheapest automation products to your home
What is the most functional tablet to hang on your wall?
After considering all these factors and checking with the available tablets on deal sites the answer is…
Without a doubt it’s a seven inch Samsung Tab 3 with IR Control can be found on craigslist and ebay for under $80.
These are pretty awesome for many reasons:
- 1 GIG RAM can JUST handle what you need to do without crazy lag.
- Can act as full Voice Control with autolistening on.
- Easy to Root for full admin control
- Tasker, AutoRemote, SmartIR are necessities and make great companions to this device
- It can replace expensive IR only controllers
- It can be an IP cam that can integrate into Netcam Studio Server
- Very light and yet big enough to see from a distance
I will go on to say that these tablets aren’t the BEST ones but they do provide the best value for home automation and can be placed all around the home for easy integration into most home automation systems.
What are some things you’ve done with it?
1. Voice control with an always listening capability.
2. Use my iPhone to use Google Now and Search my Home PC to play whatever music I would like.
3. Use Yatse to auto play videos on my XBMC PC.
4. When you enter a room you can have it tell you that you’ve entered.
Why not the Tab 4, Nexus 7, Asus, Fire etc?
It’s all based on price and what’s the best value for what you want to do with it. Some of those are overkill for just having a tablet on the wall to do basic home automation tasks. Most do not require a fast processor or lots of ram as most tasks are done with one open application at a time.
There are plenty of better and faster tablets available but this one is the one you should be looking for on deal sites and second hand from friends. They can have so many uses and are pretty amazing little devices.
As of today, June 4th, 2015 you can buy it on Amazon for 84.99 Used or 119.99 New