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Tech News

Wyze Lock Google Home integration is now rolling out

There has been an explosion in smart home appliances in the past years but the most common kind has been smart lighting and smart locks. The latter has sometimes proven to be a bit controversial, considering their security implications. Wyze’s smart lock, however, has been criticized for a different flaw, one that prevented it from connecting to Google’s nearly ubiquitous smart home platform. That has finally changed, however, and the Wyze Lock now finally speaks Google Home’s language so that you can lock or unlock your door with the power of your voice.

The Wyze Lock does actually have voice control, but that was limited to Amazon Alexa when it launched back in 2019. It teased a physical wireless keypad as an additional input method and promised support for Google Assistant in 2020. That didn’t happen last year, obviously, but Wyze has finally made good on its promise.

The latest update to Wyze’s Android app includes support for Wyze Lock’s integration with Google Home. This means that owners will be able to manage and control their smart lock from a single Google Home hub, be it a smart speaker or a smartphone. It also means being able to unlock the Wyze Lock by voice using Google Assistant, presuming you took the necessary steps to set it up.

Those necessary steps involve setting up a PIN for the lock. It seems that you will have to speak out this PIN when unlocking your door with your voice, which can be awkward and cumbersome, not to mention less secure. As Android Police recounted, it can also be error-prone at times.

The Wyze app’s update on Android does also have other goodies for other Wyze products. That includes a Vacation Mode indicator for the Wyze Bulb as well as a new no-go zone rotation for the Wyze Robot Vacuum. If anything, the update shows just how many smart home products Wyze has under its belt, most of which can be controlled via Google Home, now including the Wyze Lock.

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Tech News

Wyze Buds Pro true wireless earbuds offer ANC at a budget price

Wyze, the company that made a name for itself with its low-price home security cameras, has expanded its portfolio again, this time announcing the launch of its new Wyze Buds Pro true wireless earbuds. The new model has launched for preorder at $59.99 USD, which is a budget price considering the model’s Active Noise Cancellation feature.

The Wyze Buds Pro packs in a number of high-end features, including the promise of up to 18 hours of battery life (including the charging case battery) with Active Noise Cancellation turned on. Each earbud features a trio of microphones designed to ‘isolate and amplify’ the user’s voice when taking calls or using a personal assistant.

The Active Noise Cancellation is by far the most interesting feature; it offers 40dB ANC with wind noise reduction tech. Wyze includes a Transparency Mode that can be turned on with the press of a button to amplify ambient sounds, a safety feature for the times you’re out in public or need to hear someone talking nearby.

Wyze says that its new Wyze Buds Pro features 4.5 hours of battery life from a single charge with the ANC feature turned on; that number jumps to 6 hours with the ANC turned off. The case supports quick charging, giving the user an hour of audio playback for every 15 minutes spent in the case. The case likewise supports Qi wireless charging in addition to USB-C.

The Wyze Buds Pro model is offered in black for preorder at $59.99 USD, plus a $5.99 USD shipping cost for a total price of $65.98. The company says that preorders will start shipping to customers in July. The model ships with three silicone ear tip sizes.

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AI

Wyze will try pay-what-you-want model for its AI-powered person detection

Smart home company Wyze is experimenting with a rather unconventional method for providing customers with artificial intelligence-powered person detection for its smart security cameras: a pay-what-you-want business model. On Monday, the company said it would provide the feature for free as initially promised, after it had to disable it due to an abrupt end to its licensing deal with fellow Seattle-based company Xnor.ai, which was acquired by Apple in November of last year. But Wyze, taking a page out of the old Radiohead playbook, is hoping some customers might be willing to chip in to help it cover the costs.

AI-powered person detection uses machine learning models to train an algorithm to differentiate between the movement of an inanimate object or animal and that of a human being. It’s now a staple in the smart security camera market, but it remains rather resource-intensive to provide and expensive as a result. It is more expensive than Wyze at first realized, in fact. That’s a problem after the company promised last year that when its own version of the feature was fully baked, it would be available for free without requiring a monthly subscription, as many of its competitors do for similar AI-powered functions.

Yet now Wyze says it’s going to try a pay-what-you-want model in the hopes it can use customer generosity to offset the bill. Here’s how the company broke the good (and bad) news in its email to the customers eligible for the promotion, which includes those that were enjoying person detection on Wyze cameras up until the Xnor.ai contract expired at the end of the year:

“Over the last few months, we’ve had this service in beta testing, and we’re happy to report that the testing is going really well. Person Detection is meeting our high expectations, and it’s only going to keep improving over time. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it’s very expensive to run, and the costs are recurring. We greatly under-forecasted the monthly cloud costs when we started working on this project last year (we’ve also since hired an actual finance guy…). The reality is we will not be able to absorb these costs and stay in business.”

Wyze says that while it would normally charge a subscription for a software service that involves recurring monthly costs, it told about 1.3 million of its customers that it would not charge for the feature when it did arrive, even if it required the company pay for pricey cloud-based processing. “We are going to keep our promise to you. But we are also going to ask for your help,” Wyze writes.

It sounds risky, and Wyze admits that the plan may not pan out:

When Person Detection for 12-second event videos officially launches, you will be able to name your price. You can select $0 and use it for free. Or you can make monthly contributions in whatever amount you think it’s worth to help us cover our recurring cloud costs. We will reevaluate this method in a few months. If the model works, we may consider rolling it out to all users and maybe even extend it to other Wyze services.

If Wyze is able to recoup its costs by relying on the goodwill of customers, it could set the company up to try more experimental pricing models. After all, radical pricing strategies and good-enough quality is how Wyze became a bit of a trailblazer in the smart home camera industry, and it could work out for them again if customers feel like the feature works so well it warrants chipping in a few bucks a month.



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Tech News

PSA: All your Wyze smart home tech will have problems tonight

If you own Wyze smart home devices and have a habit of staying up late at night, you may notice the devices becoming unavailable when you try to use them. This disruption will be caused by maintenance Wyze has planned, something that will impact user logins, the ability to sign up for new accounts, and the mobile app. As well, the company says its website will go into maintenance mode and some device functions will change.

Wyze is best known for its home security cameras, but it has many other smart home devices, as well, including connected light bulbs, surge protectors, smart plugs, and more. These devices connect to the user’s WiFi network and are accessible through the companion mobile app.

As well, Wyze enables users to schedule various functions — such as smart plugs turning on and off at specific times — and the devices may have features that involve sending push notifications and more. Many of these functions will be disabled or disrupted by the planned maintenance.

The downtime will start on February 3 at 1 AM PT / 4 AM ET, meaning most customers likely won’t be impacted by the maintenance. During this period of time, the company notes that Wyze Sense devices won’t trigger actions; Wyze Cam event videos won’t be available until after the maintenance is finished; Wyze Lock keypads will still work, but auto-lock and app unlocking won’t work.

As well, Wyze Thermostat owners will note that the thermostat still works during downtime, but that geofencing may not work and that data on the HVAC filter life and usage data will disappear. It’s unclear how long the maintenance period will last, but Wyze notes that ‘we’ll be back up and running as soon as we can.’

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Tech News

The Wyze Cam v3 has some bad news

The newly launched Wyze Cam v3, the latest version of the company’s cube-shaped indoor home security camera, will be difficult to buy over the next few months due to an issue with suppliers. The company emailed users alerting them to the stock issue, noting that customers should expect to see some Wyze products come in and out of stock based on available supply.

Wyze Cam v3 is very similar to the Wyze Cam that came before it — the price is still low at $23.99, it still has the cube shape, and it’s still white in color. As expected, the model does come with some notable upgrades, however, including an IP65 weather resistance for mounting it outdoors if you’d prefer.

This model also packs more processing power, mounting options, and captures video at a higher frames-per-second compared to past models. The camera is capable of recording full-color night video, which is perhaps the most notable change over the v2 model.

If you were hoping to upgrade to this newer offering, there’s some bad news: Wyze says that it learned some of its ‘key suppliers’ aren’t able to supply all of the hardware needed for its Wyze Cam products. At this time, at least, the company is only getting around one-third of the chips it needs to produce these security cameras, meaning availability will decrease.

The company said as part of its email:

If you were hoping to upgrade to this newer offering, there’s some bad news: Wyze says that it learned some of its ‘key suppliers’ aren’t able to supply all of the hardware needed for its Wyze Cam products. At this time, at least, the company is only getting around one-third of the chips it needs to produce these security cameras, meaning availability will decrease.

As a result, Cam Plus members are being given priority access to anyone new Wyze Cam v3 units that become available when the supply is low. As well, you may find that camera listed as out of stock at times, depending on demand for the product.

As a result, Cam Plus members are being given priority access to any new Wyze Cam v3 units that become available when the supply is low. As well, you may find that camera listed as out of stock at times, depending on demand for the product.

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