- iot news week - IoT news of the week for April 19, 2019 – Stacey on IoT

Alexa gets 2M ad-supported songs: The most commonly used smart speaker feature is listening to music, so it only makes sense that Amazon bring its Music service to Echo devices for free. And by free, I mean you won’t pay any fees but you will be subjected to occasional ads. This appears to be the same “free” offering as Amazon Music, which has been available on computers and mobile devices for a decade. It’s a smart move by Amazon, though, because it’s a native feature, meaning there are no third-party integrations that may or may not work. And it exposes Amazon Echo owners to yet another music service that could turn them into paid Amazon Music subscribers should they like the service and want to upgrade to the catalog of 50 million songs Amazon offers for $7.99 a month. (Day One)

Track your weight and water intake by voice with an Echo: I’ve been a fan of MyFitnessPal dating back to before UnderArmor purchased the company in 2015. I used the to track steps, exercise, food intake, and body measurements long before Apple Health became a thing. Now you can use Alexa to enter your weight and water intake into MyFitnessPal, with more features in the works. This is huge for tracking exercise and food because while there are many great apps to do this, people generally don’t stick with them. Why? Because it’s a pain to enter the in an app. A simple voice command such as “Alexa, tell MyFitnessPal to log my weight of 150 pounds” is far quicker. (MyFitnessPal)

Slumber peacefully with Google Home and Philips Hue: Google this week announced a new Gentle Sleep & Wake feature for its Home products. The feature lets you fall asleep as a connected Hue bulb gradually dims, or wake up as the light slowly brightens for up to 30 minutes. The idea is to simulate a sunset and sunrise condition for a potentially better sleep cycle. You can program the sleep/wake activity for up to 24 hours in advance. Ideally, I’d like to see Google bring this functionality to any supported dimmable smart bulb brand, but for now, it’s Hue and Hue alone. (The Keyword)

Take a look inside Fitbit’s Human Research lab: Did you ever wonder how companies that make exercise trackers ensure their accuracy? Would you believe that at Fitbit, a test subject walks on a treadmill while someone stands next to them with a clicker, hitting it each and every the tester’s foot hits the tread? It’s true, but you’d likely never know that without reading this article, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at Fitbit’s testing lab. Ranging from sleep subjects attached to an EKG to fit athletes in the grueling VO2 Max test, you can see how real-world testing equates to the algorithms that power Fitbit products. (Wareable)

The -focused Zephyr Project hits a major milestone: This week, the Linux Foundation’s Zephyr Project announced its first long-term support (LTS) release with version 1.14 of the platform. The Zephyr Project is an open-source, real-time operating system — or RTOS — for the IoT. The project aims to offer IoT developers a broad range of device, standards, and architecture support, including APIs to provide development flexibility. This LTS release is important, not just because of the breadth of platform choice and support, but because the Zephyr Project is committed to maintaining the release (and not adding major new features) through 2021, which is like 37 years in IoT time. (Zephyr Project)

Speaking of RTOS, say hello to Microsoft: Amazon bought its own RTOS back in 2017 and now Redmond is doing the same. Microsoft this week bought Express Logic for its ThreadX RTOS, which is used in a reported 6.7 billion deployments. It plans to make Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS an option for running Azure Sphere devices and also allow IoT devices powered by ThreadX to connect with Azure IoT Edge. The brings the potential for billions of Microsoft IoT opportunities at the edge to take on Amazon’s own RTOS. And it provides Microsoft with a full hardware stack of IoT devices running its software, from large servers all the way down to microcontrollers. (Microsoft Blog)

Apple appears poised to tackle Tile: There’s no official announcement yet, but sources suggest that Apple is planning to merge its “Find my Friends” with its “Find my iPhone” service. That makes sense — unless all of your friends are users. Regardless, the more interesting aspect is that as part of this effort, Apple is working on tracking tag hardware similar to the Bluetooth tags made by Tile. What might make an Apple tracker different than a Tile, for the likely higher price? Apple’s hardware tags will reportedly store contact information so that another iOS user can reach out to you if they find a tagged item you’ve left behind. Clever, and very typical of Apple. (9to5 Mac)

Legrand expands IoT partnerships: Back in 2016, Legrand launched its Eliot program, which (for the useless fact nerds like me) is an amalgamation of Electricity and IoT. This week, Legrand announced an expansion plan for Eliot that will see it include more commercial and residential partners. The company currently has a range of partners in the consumer electronics, hospitality, and automotive markets, with 50 global companies. An expansion plan might sound like PR spin — partially because it is — but it also illustrates that you can’t just put a connected device on the market without outside assistance. Eliot provides developers with Legrand APIs to create apps and integrations that are essential for success. (Legrand)

Try OpenHAB or Home Assistant in the : Not sure if an open-source smart home platform is for you, but you don’t have a Raspberry Pi to run either OpenHAB or Home Assistant? Turns out you can deploy them in the cloud without having to buy your own hardware. Both may be limited in terms of device discovery and management, but at least these options let you kick the tires before plunking down $35 for a Pi and spending some time installing either one of these software solutions. (StaceyOnIoT)

Facebook wants in on the digital assistant market: Considering the Facebook Portal video chat product is down to $99, suggesting it isn’t selling well, I had to laugh when I read this bit about Facebook creating a digital assistant. Apparently, Facebook has been working on it for over a year and hopes to rival Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri. Good luck with that. I suspect most homeowners aren’t interested in Facebook gaining access to data from their connected home devices at this point. And for those with short memories, Facebook actually had an AI/digital assistant bot in Messenger about four years ago. Haven’t heard about it? That’s because the company shut it down last year. (CNBC)

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