Newsletter: Ring ‘Upgrades’ The Indoor Cam, HomeAssistant Competes With Alexa & More

(This newsletter was originally sent to subscribers on 2nd May 2023)

Hi I’m Tristan! Welcome to today’s Smart Home Point newsletter. There’s a few smart home updates to discuss today, including HomeAssistant’s recent voice upgrades – and the fact that Ring subtly upgraded their Indoor Cam.

News: Announcing The Ring Indoor Cam 2 (Sort Of)

The Ring Indoor Cam 2nd Gen
The Ring Indoor Cam 2nd Gen

Ring usually release their new products to big fan-fare, but a few days ago they subtly released their Indoor Cam “2nd Gen”. This $59.99 camera will ship on 24th May to American customers (it’s not yet available to us here in the UK, sadly).

There are two main improvements to the Ring Indoor Cam 2:

  1. A new privacy cover is included which you can manually move to cover up the camera itself. It’s a pity that you can’t activate this cover within the app too, but it’s still quite nice that they include this removable cover to properly ‘disable’ recordings.
  2. The mount has been improved on this 2nd gen camera, allowing you to install it on a wider range of surfaces and angles.

Sadly Ring are still stuck offering just ‘full HD’ (1080p) recording quality, even though many of their competitors now offer 2k or better resolution. Nonetheless, this is a decent improvement to an indoor camera which already sells quite well – so I doubt that Ring felt the need to totally transform the product.

News: HomeAssistant’s Second Year of the Voice Update

HA app screenshot
HA app screenshot

Home Assistant, the open source smart home hub that rivals cloud-based solutions like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, have been focusing on voice search a lot this year.

Their 2023 push will allow people to control their local smart home devices via their voice, without worrying about being dependent on the cloud.

This is a neat goal because I fear that Alexa will soon start charging a subscription for some of their services (more on this later), so moving away from cloud dependency for our smart devices could make sense.

Blog: Here’s Why Amazon Echo & Alexa May Soon Be Subscription Only

A fake advert for Alexa Pro which covers up to 100 devices and 50 routines
A fake advert for Alexa Pro which covers up to 100 devices and 50 routines

I’ve covered in previous newsletters that Amazon plans to “monetize” their smart home division. We don’t yet know what this will mean, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Alexa eventually start charging a subscription fee for some of their services.

Instead of hinting at this in these newsletters, I wanted to ‘put my cards on the table’ and explain exactly why I think Alexa will soon bring out a smart home subscription service.

News: Would you buy a ‘Philips Hue’ camera?

The Hue Blog had an interesting article/news item, asking whether you would buy a smart camera from Philips Hue?

This wasn’t just a random question, though: Hue’s parent company (Signify) has active plans to launch a smart camera.

Right now it looks like this will be via their WiZ brand, but it’ll be interesting to get more details on this in the coming months.

News: Google Kills Third Party Assistant Displays

Marketing image of Lenovos Smart Display
Marketing image of Lenovos Smart Display

An article from a few weeks ago covered how Google have stopped supporting Google Assistant on third party displays (from companies like Lenovo and LG Smart).

This isn’t a massive surprise because Google have been moving to control most of their smart home ecosystem, but it’s still worth knowing if you own a non-Google smart display which offers Google Assistant functionality.

News: Sky (In The UK) Offer Smart Home Insurance

Sky Group, the company behind the UK’s popular satellite TV network, has introduced Sky Protect Smart Home Insurance – which bundles a range of smart devices with home insurance.

You can use the Sky Protect app to insure your home while keeping an eye on it with devices like a leak detector, motion detectors, smart doorbells and cameras – and more.

This sort of scheme isn’t too uncommon worldwide, but it’s the first I have seen from a major UK company – so that’s pretty cool for us Brits.

News: First Ezviz HomeKit Camera Surfaces

Marketing image of the EZVIZ Mini S indoor camera
Marketing image of the EZVIZ Mini S indoor camera

Ezviz, the smart home company with a wide range of products, has never really offered any Apple Home compatibility – meaning that HomeKit fans have usually avoided them.

But good news – they have recently announced the Ezviz C2 Mini S, which has both HomeKit and Matter support. It also supports local recordings (to an SD card) and dual-band Wi-Fi.

So this could be a pretty good smart camera option for HomeKit fans. It is currently only being sold in China, but hopefully it’ll launch worldwide soon.

News: How Parenting Tech Opens the Door to State Surveillance

A fairly worrying (but interesting) article appeared in Wired magazine, covering how a range of newer parenting technology has led to some unintended consequences.

More specifically, Wired argue that the increasing trend of having internet connected parenting technology (like baby monitors that you can view through a phone app) has led to more state surveillance potential.

It’s a fairly thought-provoking read.

Wrapping Up

That’s it for today’s newsletter – thanks for reading. I am happy to see HomeAssistant’s voice support grow in power, because I think that a truly local smart home (with proper voice support) will be a really useful tool for us smart home fans.

I continue to be frustrated that Ring bring out new products which are fairly similar to their previous ones (including sticking to 1080p resolution), but it is good that they introduced a privacy cover I guess!

As always, if you have any questions (or just want to say ‘hi’), please feel free to reply to this email.

I’m aiming to send the next newsletter out in a few weeks. Until then, have a good one!

– Tristan

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

Leave a Comment