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Google Nest ‘Drop In’ Support (And What To Do Instead)

A Google Home Mini device placed on a wooden shelving unit

The Google Home range – which includes various Nest smart speakers and hubs including the ‘Mini’ devices – is a line of products known as ‘smart voice assistants’, and they rival Amazon’s Echo line-up. One of the features from Amazon Echo is the ability to ‘drop in’ on an Echo from anywhere in the world … Read more

Google Home Downtime: What, Why… and How To Turn It Off!

A phone screenshot from my Google Home app's "Downtime" feature, explaining what it does (including that alarms and timers will still be heard).

“Digital wellbeing” is an idea that appeared a few years ago, and it aims to address addiction to digital technology – such as social media and computer games – by limiting how much time can be spent on them. Smartphones increasingly offer this feature too, and it was recently rolled out to the Google Home … Read more

Your Nest Device May Be Pointless In Illnois (Or The EU!)

Nest help pages - familiar face detection

When you’re looking at Nest’s smart doorbells and cameras, you may see a symbol (indicating a footnote) whenever “familiar face detection” is mentioned: So what does this suspicious footnote mention? Scrolling down to the bottom of the page says: (1) Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest Hub Max used in the … Read more

Alexa & Echo: Are Calls and Messages Free?

Screenshot of Alexa app, on the Communicate tab, showing Call, Message, Drop In and Announce features.

The “Communicate” tab on the Alexa app shows various options, including ‘Call’ and ‘Message’. This allows you to contact your Echo devices, but also people in your contact list. So are these calls and messages free, or do they cost money? The communication options within Alexa and Echo (including calls and messaging) are completely free, … Read more

Is Ring Alarm’s “Professional Monitoring” Worth It? (Why I’ve Changed My Mind)

SpaceX staff working in their control centre during a launch, with lots of computer monitors at each desk each

Even though I’m only 31, I always feel old when I start a sentence with “Back in my day, things were so much better”. However you can’t blame me for thinking this when Ring used to only charge $10/month for Professional Monitoring, right? Actually, let’s back up a bit. Ring released their smart alarm system … Read more