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Big Revolution - The Amazon smart home of the future

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Welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution. Don't forget, if you ever have any feedback, you can always just
 
February 12 · Issue #345 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution. Don’t forget, if you ever have any feedback, you can always just hit ‘reply’ to this email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Developers will now be able to make Google Docs more useful. A new automation API will allow the creation of tools to do things like automatically update documents with new data over time.
  • Public money should fund local journalism in the UK, a government-backed review has recommended. In her review, Dame Frances Cairncross also calls for a new regulator to oversee the relationship between news organisations and technology giants.
The big thought
Eero WiFi routers. Credit: Eero
The Amazon smart home of the future
Why is Amazon buying a WiFi router company when it could just as easily developed its own router? To understand that, you need to understand what Eero does in the home, and what Amazon wants to do in the home.
Currently only available in North America, Eero uses a bunch of small devices around the home to create a ‘mesh’ of strong WiFi signal everywhere. What’s more, it has an admin interface that allows users to monitor exactly what devices are connected; how much data they’re using; stop little Jimmy’s phone from accessing the internet when it’s bedtime; give guests access without having to share a password, and other smart features.
Amazon, meanwhile, wants to own the smart home. It’s not just about asking Alexa to switch your lights off, it has made it as easy as possible for smart home device makers to integrate Alexa, and it acquired Ring and Blink to oversee your home security.
Amazon’s broad approach to the smart home includes things like allowing authorised couriers to enter your home when you’re out to drop off packages – fully monitored by internet-connected cameras, of course. That might creep some people out, but to others it could be the peak of convenience.
With Eero, Amazon gets a better understanding of the devices connected to your WiFi, which could make connecting them up to Alexa an automatic process. And from a consumer perspective, anything that makes smart home devices easier to set up and manage makes them more likely to buy more of them.
And similar to how Facebook used its Onavo VPN to understand which social media apps were threatening its dominance, Amazon should be able to see not just which smart home devices sell well on its own store, but which are actually put to use, and how, in real people’s homes. Eero says it “does not track customers’ internet activity and this policy will not change with the acquisition,” but we’ve seen how such positions can change over time.
As for the endgame of all this, well – smart home devices are a big business on their own. There’s even a company called Wondrwall that will install an integrated, Alexa-powered smart home system in your home, and no doubt many new houses will come with these kinds of systems set up in the future.
It seems like the smart home in many Western countries is a two-horse race between Amazon and Google, with Apple a distant third.
In years to come, people may ask if your house is 'an Amazon house or a Google house.’ And while Google houses might have smarter artificial intelligence features, Amazon houses might restock your fridge automatically, buy replacement lightbulbs when yours die, and the like.
Because once Amazon deeply understands your home, it much better understands what to sell to you, and when.
One big read
Apple ‘Black Site’ Gives Contractors Few Perks, Little Security - Bloomberg Apple ‘Black Site’ Gives Contractors Few Perks, Little Security - Bloomberg
Although there’s been a lot of attention on Google’s white-collar contractors of late, at least they work alongside Google staff in the same offices. Apple has an unglamorous building a few miles from its beautiful ‘spaceship’ campus, full of contractors – and it seems they’re not too happy.
That’s all for today...
See you in your inbox again tomorrow for more.
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