Tag Archives: HomeKit

Review ~ Nanoleaf Aurora Smarter Kit lighting panels

From Toronto Canada, these smart light panel kits vended here in NZ by MacGear let you integrate the system into Apple HomeKit or just run them from your iPhone or iPad.

Featuring an interlocking PCB electrical tab that lets you quickly attach any of the three sides to another panel, and then the power supply to any spare slot, this 9-panel Smarter Kit lets you create several shapes from the get-go.
Virtually ‘paint’ individual panels or let effects sweep through, and of course brighten and dim, these can be oh-so-subtle or party-garish at the touch on the free iOS app interface.
You’d think this could be gimmicky, but no. Because you can configure them several different ways and because you can get the Aurora panels to play subtle effects and also dim them almost to nothing, seamlessly, they’re refreshingly sophisticated and  effective in many situations. They can display over 16 million colours.

Each panel is 24cm in length and 24cm high, and weighs just 210 grams thanks to a braced plastic structure on the back  (above – all the tech specs are online).

Mounting — If I had any issues with these at all, it would be wall mounting. In the kit, the only option is 3M sticky tabs, although Nanoleaf has been generous, providing 28 (plus an extra PDB connector). The black sides will stick forever to the back; the red side goes n your wall, and is supposed to be removable, but in my experience, this can remove paint. Here’s a great tip, though – you will really need to get it properly lined up on the wall. Since there’s a level in your iPhone already, try that (just open the Compass app and swipe to the side).
To mount the Aurora panels properly on a wall in a placement you want to keep for any length of time, MacGear has various accessories available like the mounting kit with thumb tacks (NZ$60) which has 12 screw mounts, 12 wall anchors, 12 steel screws and four flex-linkers. These sturdier anchors would be preferable for many walls and for many applications once you are sure you have the configuration and placement you want. You could even mount them on come ceilings.
The flex-linkers are also available separately (NZ$40 for 9) – with these you can mount the panels so they go around corners, for example. Also available are more of the straight PCB tabs, a panel expansion kit (3 panels and tabs for $120 – the supplied power supply can handle up to 30 panels!) and the $100 Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Module with gets the panels pulsing to sound – how’s that for party coolness? I’d really like to try that.
Another issue for some might be that the white of the plastic the panels are mounted in might clash or just look wrong with some darker wall colours.

Don’t forget white – the panels can produce a bright white, or tone it down and colour it subtly for ambient glows.

The app or not — The power module plugs into the normal wall power outlet. Current gets daisy-chained through all the panels via the connector tabs, and you can pull out a panel and plug it in somewhere else while it’s on. Even without an app to control it with, you can use the Aurora – the power module has an On/Off switch on it plus another that initiates preset lighting programs through the panels – it cycles through the presets with subsequent presses.
However, the app (it’s free, of course) lets you dim the lights and this is a good thing, as they can verge on harshly bright to look at, evenings. Fifty-percent is nice and ambient, but right down to 10% can be effective in a dark hallway or even a child’s bedroom as a night-light.
Beyond that, thanks to HomeKit support, you can add in other products like Phillips’ Hue lightbulbs and change their colour along with the Aurora, should you want all these to be doing the same thing.
But you can also get pretty creative with the app, painting individual panels with colour, or creating your own light transformation effects. You can change the speed of transitions. You can also set a time for them to come on, to automatically light a hallway from 7.30pm.

Voice Control — You can also set a voice control to turn them on via Siri. Power to the panels must always be on for voice or app control to work, then turn the lights off likewise – ie, not with the power button. This will avoid the need for the panels to search for and rejoin the wifi hub (which you set up easily via the app when you first load it up – it’s the most painless Wifi setup I’ve ever used). This has to be done each time the Aurora loses power.
Room and individual light names are set by you within the Nanoleaf app. This must be done before using voice control, or else Siri won’t really understand what you want it to do. Nanoleaf has a list of commands you can use.

Power — These aren’t going to suck your house dry of power. The most all panels together will draw is 20 watts (.5-2W per panel depending  on brightness and 2W for the controller module, and up to 60W with the 30 panels that the one power module can control. They’re rated for 25,000 hours of use.

Conclusion — They’re great, I love them! Consider this for the home, but also for effective controllable lighting in commercial applications like bars, cafés and shops for flashy pizazz right down to subtle ambience. I think the price is pretty reasonable, too, considering how configurable they are. And here’s an additional benefit: shifting lights against your windows and curtains can look like someone’s home and doing stuff.

What’s great — Subtle or flashy, very controllable, this is effective, easy to use and configurable. The accessories already available add a lot more to the equation.

What’s not — Getting your configuration right, in the right place, can be a test. But since the 9 panels come with protective paper between them, these come in handy for practicing layouts with Blu-Tac for example.

Needs — Those with sophisticated, malleable lighting needs.

Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit, NZ RRP $339.99 (You can see this in operation at iStore in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore). 

System — any place with mains power. The app is for iOS, and it has HomeKit and Siri support too (you can turn it on and off by voice.) I feel it’s almost hard to describe in words and pictures but there are some good videos online, and I suggest you check them out: Here’s Nanoleaf’s, Apple has posted one, and here’s 5 Minutes for Mom’s.

More information — MacGear NZ.

iPhone 8 reviews, sound pitch, Education AR, HomeKit, Apple Watch 3 review, Twitter app crashes

Apple’s HomeKit is starting to have some exciting, usable products available like the Nanoleaf Aurora lighting system

Super fast bionic glass: iPhone 8 Review — Apple’s latest iPhone 8 is supercharged by its new A11 Bionic chip, which does the heavy lifting for a series of major new camera features as well as making everything faster. It also packs iPad Pro’s True Tone display and Fast Charging, and adds Qi wireless charging through its beautifully glossy rear glass back, built in a familiar shape but with a new steel structure ringed in an aluminum band with precision seams that continue the water and dust resistance of the previous 7 generation.

Super fast, big bionic glass: iPhone 8 Plus Review — The strengthened glass back has multiple layers of colour applied to it, giving it a creamy luster. The Gold version, rather than being the solid, metallic champagne or rose gold color of previous generations, features a back panel with a warm, antique pearl appearance with a subtle dusty pink tone that looks luxurious and stunning in contrast to the coppery-gold frame that rings its sides and the camera lens. It looks spectacular. This is a very long, detailed review, and partly concludes “iPhone 8 delivers a solid upgrade over last year’s iPhone 7, particularly in its advanced camera and a speedy processor that promises to deliver involving new augmented reality apps, utilities and games built upon new ARKit framework. ”

Apple says fix coming for ‘crackling’ iPhone 8 audio — Apple has issued a statement confirming a small number of iPhone 8 handsets suffer from an audio glitch that causes a “crackling” noise during phone calls, saying a fix for the problem is in the works.

Top 5 education AR apps you should know about — Augmented reality is poised to become an important platform thanks to iOS 11. But AR apps can be hard to find, since we’re still in the early stages. Apple does have a new AR Apps category in the App Store, and it’s growing every day. Right now though, the majority of AR apps are games. But another category that can benefit from augmented reality is education. Here are education AR apps noted by the Mac Observer.

D-Link’s HomeKit-compatible Omna 180 Cam HD gets new control features in app update — Accessory maker D-Link has updated its Omna iOS app with all new features for its Omna 180 Cam HD, one of the first internet-connected security cameras to feature Apple HomeKit support. Included in this release is support for event notifications and remote live streaming for users who don’t own a fourth-generation Apple TV or Home Hub-compatible iPad. These tentpole features initially saw release with Omna 180 Cam HD, but required Apple hardware to function.

LIFX Tile Kit boasts highly customizable LED panels with HomeKit support — Smartbulb producer LIFX has introduced another way to light up a room, with the Tile wall panels able to change color into a variety of different light patterns, all of which can be controlled via the company’s companion app or through smarthome frameworks, including Apple’s HomeKit. [Not sure if you all be able to get this in NZ, but you can get the awesome Nanoleaf Auroroa, for example at Auckland’s iStore – this features in today’s MagBytes available shortly and which I will review it fully here soon, too.]

Review: Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular further establishes an emerging computing platform — The Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular takes a major step forward in making Apple’s wrist-worn device its own independent, connected computing platform. Simply put, it’s a must-have for athletes in the Apple ecosystem, and a wearable device worth considering for many other non-fitness use cases.

Cedars-Sinai hospital’s Apple Watch app lets patients find doctors, locate clinics — Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai offers an Apple Watch app said to be one of the first available from a US hospital, allowing enhanced care for patients directly from their wrist.

Twitter pulls buggy app from Apple Watch without announcement — The latest Twitter update for the iPhone also disables its accompanying Apple Watch app, potentially as a temporary measure while the company deals with complaints about crashes.

Shot on iPhone 6, App Store games, HomeKit, Wunderlist under Microsoft, National Geographic channel

Very short, beautiful 'Shot on iPhone 6' videos now on YouTube.
Very short, beautiful ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ videos now on YouTube.

Shot on iPhone 6 —Apple has added six HD videos shot on iPhone 6 from around the world

App Store’s Games section revamps to concentrate on curated lists — The Games section of the iOS App Store has undergone a significant overhaul since mid-May, and now concentrates curated lists instead of auto-generated sections like ‘New’ and ‘What’s Hot,’ checks showed on Monday.

HomeKit accessories — The first five are here (ie, in the US). MacObserver has more info.

Popular to-do app Wunderlist plans new features under Microsoft — Microsoft has confirmed it acquired 6Wunderkinder GmbH, a German startup behind the popular Wunderlist to-do list application.
Wunderlist lets people sync their to-do lists through applications for platforms including iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows, and the web. It comes highly reviewed by users across platforms.

National Geographic Channel content added to Apple TV days before refreshed hardware is expected — With only a few days to go before the WWDC keynote, where a new Apple TV is expected to be unveiled, the existing platform has gained access to the National Geographic Channel’s next-day content.

iTunes free single gone, HomeKit, iOS 9, Minecraft, marathon training, Scannable

There is no more free Single of the Week in iTunes.
There is no more free Single of the Week in iTunes.

After 11 years, iTunes Single Of The Week is no more — BusinessInsider is reporting that Apple is ending its longstanding “Single Of The Week” promotion after 11 years. As the name implies, Apple, for 11 years on end, promoted a new song every week that iTunes users could download for free. [That sucks, I’ve made some really good discoveries through this feature. There goes my presentation of ‘Think Apple gives you nothing for free?’]

List of HomeKit products from CES — So far all we have seen of HomeKit is promises from June 2014; there wasn’t a way to take advantage of it until iOS 8 shipped, and even now virtually nothing utilises HomeKit. But that’s slowly starting to change: CES 2015 was the first wave of hope for Siri-friendly home automators.

Traffic from Apple’s unannounced iOS 9 grows into new year — Testing on Apple’s anticipated iOS 9 release continues to ramp up at the start of 2015, with the next major iPhone and iPad operating system expected to make its official debut at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition — Minecraft: Pocket Edition is bigger than Texas, 23 times hotter than the Sun, and “more than the entire observable universe.” Of course, if you’re looking for actual statistics, Mojang has one of those, too: the number of times the pint-sized version of the game has been purchased is 30,000,000!

Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop app lands on iOS — Google Chrome has a lot of fancy features built-in or available through extensions. One of those awesome additions is Chrome Remote Desktop — but until this week, the feature was limited to computers running the Chrome browser itself or Android devices. Now, however, iOS users can get in on the remote desktop action as well.

Train for a marathon like a pro with these apps — There’s no single app that can absolutely take you from lazy couch potato to marathon finisher, there are several apps that can help you in your quest to run the absurd distance of 26.2 miles. Because marathons are so taxing, even the most seasoned runners still need to train—constantly.

Scannable app supercharges Evernote scanning on the go — Scannable for iOS delivers quick and easy scanning to Evernote with a minimum of configuration. Whether you’re snapping Post-It notes or capturing business cards, Scannable is intended to make it as fast as possible (and get it all into Evernote, of course). It’s free.

iMessage repairs, Nova flash panel, HomeKit, WeMo

Handy flash for iPhone photography – let's hope we can buy it here soon.
Handy flash for iPhone photography – let’s hope we can buy it here soon.

Apple introduces lost iMessage repair tool — Much to Apple’s surprise, not everyone that buys an iPhone sticks with the platform, and that led to a problem where switchers never saw text messages from their friends who stayed with iOS. Apple has finally addressed the problem with a new web-based utility that unlinks phone numbers from iMessage so you’ll still see texts when switching to an Android or Windows smartphone.

Apple begins stocking Nova iOS-connected Bluetooth camera flash in retail stores — Apple has expanded the selection of mobile photography accessories in its retail (bricks and mortar Store) outlets with the Nova, a wireless, off-camera flash that can be used to enhance low-light shooting and synchronises with iOS devices using Bluetooth technology. [We don’t have Apple Stores, so I hope it comes to our Apple online store as it’s not there yet – the Nova is a little,  flat flash panel, very handy – pictured above.]

HomeKit at CES — There hasn’t been much about Apple’s HomeKit framework since WWDC 2014. Now things are starting to heat up in preparation for the January Consumer Electronics Show. According to GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham, at least one existing connected device manufacturer –iDevices – will launch new HomeKit products at the huge show in Las Vegas.

WeMo-enabled Holmes Smart Humidifier is the go-to gadget for flu season — A humidifier can be a necessary evil during cold weather spells or when you’re sick with a sore throat, but at least now you might control it with your iDevice.

Massive handset profits, HomeKit, iOS 8.1.1, Nuzzel

Apple's online NZ store already has a lot of 'Connected Devices' for sale
Apple’s online NZ store already has a lot of ‘Connected Devices’ for sale

Apple continues to dominate with massive 86% share of handset industry profits — A new analysis of third-quarter handset industry operating profits estimates that Apple accounted for a massive 86% share, blowing away the competition as rivals such as Samsung saw their profit levels dip.

First wireless chips with Apple HomeKit support now shipping to device manufacturers — Chipmakers Broadcom and Texas Instruments have started shipping out Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips with installed Apple HomeKit firmware, meaning the first wave of HomeKit-enabled devices should hit store shelves soon. [There’s already more ‘Connected Home’ devices available on the NZ App Store than I would have thought, it was quite a surprise.]

Apple releases first iOS 8.1.1 beta to developers with bug fixes — Following the release of OS X 10.10.1 Yosemite beta, Apple on Monday issued the first developer beta for iOS 8.1.1 , the upcoming point release for the company’s mobile operating system.

Social news reader Nuzzel wants to make sure you never miss a trending story —  Nuzzel organises articles people are posting on social media, collecting all the articles your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and keeping them all in one spot.