Invoxia has added support for Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service to its acclaimed Triby connect kitchen speaker, making it the first non-Amazon device to add support for the voice assistant. Following the launch of its Echo voice controlled speaker last year, Amazon also debuted the Alexa Skills Kit, a free SDK allowing third-party developers to integrate the service into their devices, and Invoxia has now risen to the challenge and added Alexa support for all existing Triby owners via a software update. As per Invoxia’s support FAQ, Triby users will need to be running software version 10.35 or above and have the latest version (2.9) of the Triby iPhone app, available from the App Store. Once enabled through the iPhone app, an Alexa icon will appear in the top-left corner of Triby’s e-ink display, and users can simply call out “Alexa” to begin asking questions.
Although August made its name with its flagship product, the August Smart Lock, the company hasn’t been sitting still with its goal to increase its family of home access products. The Smart Keypad accessory we looked at yesterday works to expand the capabilities of the original Smart Lock, and August has also recently released an entirely new standalone but companion product for the Smart Lock in the form of its new August Doorbell Cam — a home accessory intended to replace a standard doorbell with a smart device that provides two-way voice communication and one-way photo and video capabilities so you can see who is calling, even when you’re away from home.
Apple has provided more detailed information for developers on how to take advantage of the new Apple Music API introduced in iOS 9.3. In a document titled Apple Music Best Practices for App Developers, Apple summarizes how third-party iOS apps can integrate with Apple Music, including some of its functionality in their apps. Specifically, the Apple Music API will allow develoePrs to directly control Apple Music playback as well as determining if a user is currently a member, determine which country the user’s account is based in, queueing up songs for playback, and reading playlists already in a user’s music library and creating new playlists with a title and description. Developers can also participate in the Apple Music Affiliate Program, earning a one-time commission if a user signs up for a paid Apple Music account using their app. A new section has also been added to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines specifying the limitations that developers should work in when using the API, such as such as requiring explicit user action for playback, exposing and respecting standard media controls, and not monetizing access to the Apple Music API through in-app purchases, advertising, or requesting user information.
Several apps have already been updated to take advantage of the new Apple Music API, most notably Shazam, which allows users to add discovered tracks to an Apple Music playlist directly from within the Shazam app. At this point, however, Apple has not yet taken any steps to note on highlight those apps on the App Store which provide Apple Music integration.
Apple has released an update to its Apple Music app for Android devices, adding support for watching music videos on Apple Music and signing up or upgrading to a Family Membership. Users who had already signed up to a Family Membership via an iOS device or iTunes on Mac or PC could use their account in the Android app, however this latest update means that new users can now sign-up for a new Family Membership, or upgrade their single-user account to a family plan from directly in the app. The Android version now also provides access to the music video content from the Apple Music catalog, including the ability to browse popular videos from the New section or search for music videos directly. Apple Music for Android was launched in beta last November, and recent upgrades since its initial launch have brought support for a home screen widget for controlling playback and the ability to store offline downloads onto an SD card. [via 9to5Mac]
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took a large position in Apple three years ago, how now sold his stake over concerns with the company’s situation in China, CNBC reports. Speaking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Icahn stated that “We no longer have a position in Apple,” while adding that Apple is a “great company” and that he feels that CEO Tim Cook is still “doing a great job.”
Icahn cited China’s current attitude toward Apple as being the main incentive for him to exit his position, noting concerns that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult” for Apple to do business there. The Chinese government can be capricious, as evidenced by its sudden turnaround on iTunes Movies and iBooks sales last week. Icahn added, however, that he would likely buy back into Apple if China “was basically steadied.” Icahn previously owned slightly under one percent of Apple’s outstanding shares, which have fallen over six percent this week following the company’s latest earnings call; Icahn said he made roughly $2 billion on Apple, and still touts the stock as “cheap” despite his reservations.
Closing off the week in our iLounge Deals, we have two great accessories for the Apple Watch from Nomad. When you’re on the go, the Nomad Pod Portable Apple Watch Battery Pack ($33.95) provides an attractive portable Apple Watch battery, packed with 1800 mAh of juice so you can keep your Apple Watch and iPhone charged while away from home base. The round and compact design keeps your charging cable tucked out of the way, and it’s portable enough to toss in your bag. Meanwhile, back at home you can use the Nomad Stand for Apple Watch ($33.95) on your nightstand to charge and display your Apple Watch when you’re not wearing it, with precision-cut aluminum construction, a hidden channel to keep your charging cable out of sight, and a copper alloy base with a rubber footing for stability.
The brain child of industrial designer Yves Béhar and tech entrepreneur Jason Johnson, the original August Smart Lock was a revolutionary entry into the home automation market when it made its debut over two years ago — a smart door lock that brought iPhone integration to just about any deadbolt in an elegant design, and it seemed only natural that when Apple unveiled HomeKit, support for the August Smart Lock wouldn't be far behind. Announced last fall and released today, the August Smart Lock HomeKit Enabled ($229) is a second-generation version of the popular lock that sports the same classic design while adding ties into Apple's home automation ecosystem. Alongside the new lock, August has also released a new Smart Keypad accessory ($79) that provides the ability to unlock the August Smart Lock using a numeric code.
While the now-Google-owned Nest brought the idea of smart home thermostats into the mainstream consciousness, it is by no means the only player in the game — nor was it even the first by a long shot. In fact, the race began back in 2008, when a small startup named ecobee debuted the world's first Wi-Fi connected smart thermostat. Hence, it's probably only fitting that the company's ecobee3 was the first thermostat to join the club when Apple's HomeKit home automation framework came online. In addition to providing control via HomeKit, ecobee3 has more than a few of its own unique capabilities to recommend it, and like other HomeKit devices we've taken a look at recently, was an existing product that added HomeKit capabilities, rather than a new product released specifically for HomeKit.
Apple has officially launched its new CareKit platform today, with four new apps available out of the gate, and more expected to come. Announced last month, CareKit is an extension of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives, designed to better facilitate doctor-patient communication by allowing users to automatically share health information with care providers and loved ones. The new apps already available with CareKit support include Glow Nurture, Glow Baby, Start, and One Drop.
Today in iLounge Deals we’re offering Roxio Toast 14 Titanium for Mac for only $49 — that’s 50% off the regular price. This popular digital media tool, now in its fourteenth edition, is packed with even more features to help you maximum your digital media workflow. Burn digital media to DVD, copy your favourite Blu-ray disc, and even capture and enhance both audio and video directly from your screen, portable devices, or the Web, edit and enhance audio, convert video for viewing on all of your devices, and create cross-platform CDs and DVDs for easy sharing.