Siri, which was first revealed at Apple’s WWDC earlier this year, is now available on Ecobee SmartThermostats. The Apple voice assistant is available as a free software update, and it allows you to say “Hey Siri” to the thermostat to change the temperature, send an intercom message, and utilize all of Siri’s smart speaker functions.
Although the functionality is not unique to Ecobee, it is the first third-party gadget to incorporate Apple’s virtual assistant Siri. Beginning this year, all HomeKit accessory producers will be able to integrate Siri voice control into their goods, according to Apple. To make any integration work, you must have a HomePod Mini on the same network as the device (in this example, the SmartThermostat) that will submit the queries.
The functionality is only accessible with the most recent Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control ($249.99), which has a constructed microphone and speaker and has been Alexa-compatible ever since its release in 2019. You cannot, however, both have Ai system active at the same point; you must choose, but you may switch back any time.
Siri is my primary smart home driver, so I’ve been anticipating this upgrade with bated breath. It landed on my thermostat this weekend, and I’m pleased with the results thus far (barring a few hiccups getting it going). It’s practically the same as having a HomePod mounted on your wall. I can use the Ecobee to do anything I could do with a HomePod: set timers, inquire about the weather, find my iPhone, and control lighting and other smart home devices. It was somewhat slower than using Apple’s own smart speaker for such activities, but not by much.
The microphones and speakers on the Ecobee aren’t as well placed as those on a HomePod – they’re at the back of the device against the wall, so it had some difficulty hearing me, and if you have an Apple device nearby — phone, watch, etc. — that gadget always picks up the request first. This is a good thing because you want the thermostat to be a backup device, not the primary one. With Alexa in the Ecobee, it frequently picks up the request above any other nearby Echo speaker.
The Ecobee speaker also appears as an Airplay option, which was surprisingly entertaining, especially because it can be grouped with other Airplay speakers. When I was streaming music from a smart smoke alarm (Onelink Safe & Sound) and a smart thermostat at the same time, I had a huge smart home nerd moment. Hello and welcome to the future.
Setting up the connection is simple: from the thermostat’s screen, link the Ecobee to HomeKit, then add it as an accessory in the Home app, and a “Speak to Siri” option will appear. You may then personalize the experience (such as deciding if you want to enable personal requests). If your thermostat is already HomeKit-enabled, a card will appear in the Home app inviting you to enable Siri. You can switch between voice assistants in the thermostat’s settings or the Ecobee app’s integrations menu.
Having Siri in additional locations around the house would help the voice assistant become a more helpful smart home controller. Putting it in a $250 thermostat, on the other hand, does not make the HomeKit experience any less costly. Furthermore, it requires a HomePod Mini to function.
Nobody should spend $350 only to get this experience. It is beneficial to people who already have this technology. However, I’d like to see some Siri-enabled gadgets under $50 in the future to help bring the voice assistant into more corners of your smart home.
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