How to Change Your Smart Bulb’s Colors From the Google Home Hub Display

Google Home Hub with led lights in front of it.
Josh Hendrickson

Philips Hue, LIFX, and Eufy Lumos color changing bulbs let you set the mood in your home, and Google Assistant empowers you to change them by voice. But you can also choose colors from Google Home Hub’s touchscreen. Here’s how.

We think the Google Home Hub is a great device. From one place, you can hear the news, play music, turn on and off your smart devices, and see pictures of friends and family. In a pinch, it makes a great cookbook and YouTube display too. Most of those capabilities revolve around voice commands, but you shouldn’t count out the display. Your photos look amazing on it, but it’s also a convenient touch control panel for controlling your smarthome gadgets when it’s noisy.

If you have color changing lights compatible with Google Home Hub, they’ll now give you color options when you select either the lights grouped into a room or the individual lights themselves. However, there is a catch—you have to have your lights associated with a room to see them in the dashboard at all.

Google Home Hub with smart light controls on screen.
I have more than two smart lights, but the rest aren’t in a room right now so I can’t see them.

Once you connect your smart lights and define what room they belong to, you’ll gain color options when you work with them in the dashboard. If you have a Google Home Hub in the same physical location as smart lights, you should associate them to the same room in the Google Assistant App. Then when you pull down on the Google Home Hub screen and tap on Rooms, the room the Hub is associated to will be selected automatically, saving a few taps.

So your first step is to group your smart devices into rooms in the Google Assistant app, which we’ve covered before. In the Google App tap on Add, then Set up Device. Next, choose “Have something already set up?” and search for the service you want to connect (Philips Hue, SmartThings, etc.). Once you’ve finished connecting the service and your devices are detected, add them to rooms when prompted.

To access your lights, swipe down from the top of your Google Home Hub screen. It helps to start just above the screen as you would with a smartphone to pull down the notification pane.

Google Home hub with down arrow drawn from top of the screen.

Tap “View Rooms” in the upper right-hand corner. You could tap “all lights,” but View Rooms will separate your lights by groups.

Google Home Hub command center with box around View Rooms button

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Should You Use Hubitat to Automate Your Smarthome?

Hubitat Hub and its box
Hubitat

The first step in building a smarthome is often choosing a hub, and there are many options. Hubitat is a unique cloud-independent hub. It’s incredibly powerful, capable, and complicated. But should you use Hubitat in your smarthome?

Hubitat Is a Powerful Hub for Your Smarthome

Hubitat Dashboard page featuring several smarthome options
Hubitat

One thing is still true; there are too many smarthome hubs from which to choose. And while there are hubs you should avoid altogether, Hubitat isn’t necessarily one of them: it’s complex, perhaps too complex for many people, but has a lot of powerful features.

Hubitat is a true smarthome hub designed to be the center of your automation. It connects to Z-wave and Zigbee, Alexa and Google Home, Lutron and LAN devices. What makes it different from most smarthome hubs is its emphasis on local control and incredibly advanced automations. It boasts a fairly large device integration list, and if you choose wisely, it should be able to control anything you add to your smarthome.

For example, with Hubitat, you could create a set of rules that would dim your lights from 100% to 30% over the period of a half-hour at sunset or 8 PM (whichever is later) and then bring the lights back up slowly at sunrise or 6 AM (whichever is later)—all without any cloud interaction. This will even work if your internet goes down. SmartThings and Wink can’t reach that level of complexity, especially while relying only on local control.

Most Hubs Are Cloud-Based, But Hubitat Is Local

Other major smarthome hubs, like Wink and SmartThings, are cloud-first devices with perhaps some local control added afterward. When you tap the button on your phone to turn on the living room light, a signal is sent from your phone to your router and over the internet to the Wink or SmartThings cloud servers. That command is processed and then sent back over the internet to your router and then to your hub. Finally, your hub sends the command to your light. Without some support for local control, this doesn’t work when your internet goes down.

Hubitat handles most of the work locally, which offers several benefits. Because your command doesn’t have to go over the internet and back, you’ll see your lights turn on and off more quickly compared to Wink or Smartthings. If your internet goes down, these locally controlled capabilities will continue to work. And, if privacy is your aim, you’ll have more of it since you aren’t communicating with a corporation’s cloud.

You can, of course, connect some devices that do require the cloud, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, to Hubitat. You’ll lose some speed and privacy when you use those devices and anything controlled by them.

One of the other benefits of Hubitat is cost. Once you buy the Hubitat hardware, you’re done. Hubitat doesn’t force you into ongoing monthly subscriptions to gain functionality; everything it offers is included, even software updates. Hubitat usually sells for $149.95, although right now Hubitat is offering the latest hardware for $99.95.

With Hubitat You Create Complex Automations

Hubitat Rules definition page
Hubitat

Automations are the real smarthome superpower. While we love talking to our homes, Hubitat can make voice control unnecessary. Hubitat allows for advanced triggers and rules. For example, you can set up a rule for the following: Because you walked into the bedroom, and it’s after 9 pm, and it’s cold tonight, and the heating isn’t on, the lights should be activated and dimmed, and the electric blanket should be turned on. If you’re using individualized presence detectors, you could define that this only occurs if one specific person enters the room.

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Apple Announces New AirPods and Wireless Charging Case

AirPod Second Generation
Apple

Apple already announced new iPads and new iMacs this week. And now to continue that onslaught of updated hardware, it just released the second generation of AirPods, and to go with them (or your originals), a wireless charging case.

Airpods with Better Battery and Hey Siri

We think the AirPods are great for convenience, especially if you’re an iPhone or iPad user. They travel well, turn themselves on, and pair more easily to your Apple devices than any other Bluetooth device. That’s in part thanks to the custom W1 chip Apple built to improve wireless connectivity. What we wish they had is noise isolation, wireless charging, and longer battery life.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad, and Apple delivered. The latest version of AirPods features a custom H1 chip that takes what the AirPods do well and improves upon it. Apple claims the new AirPods will connect to your devices even faster, and the battery will last longer. The second generation AirPods should provide an extra hour of talk time (the company calls this a 50% improvement), and switching between devices should be twice as fast as the original AirPods. And they have “Hey Siri” capability, which someone will use. Probably by accident.

A New Wireless Charging Case Adds Even More Convenience

Wireless charging is one of those features that you can live without until you have it. And once you have it, you won’t go back. The good news is Apple released a wireless charging case for AirPods along with the hardware update. The better news is, they’re compatible with the previous generation AirPods.

To no one’s surprise, the wireless charging case uses the Qi standard and will work with any Qi charging pads you have now. What you won’t hear about is AirPower, that continues to be an unspoken subject with Apple. You can buy the wireless case separately for $79 if you already have AirPods.

If you’re in the market new AirPods you can either buy the new hardware today with a standard case for $159, or with the wireless charging case for $199. If you don’t already have AirPods and you think you may want wireless charging case, it makes the most sense to buy them up front given there’s a $40 difference between buying it as a bundle or buying it separately.

That is unless you’d prefer to buy one of the several cheaper alternatives we recommended in the past.

Apple Announces an Overdue iMac Refresh

an iMac with two external monitors editing video
Apple

After nearly two years Apple has updated its iMac line with newer processors and graphics chips as a follow up to its iPad refresh. And just like the new iPad mini, all the changes are on the inside.

New Processors and Graphics Chips, Same Case and Prices

iMac 27 inch
Apple

If you thought Apple forgot about its iMac line, it would be understandable. Two years is a long time to wait for an update on a computer line (we’re looking at you Mac Pro). But Apple just updated its store with new iMac options that feature either last year’s processors or this year’s processors, depending on what you choose. All the changes are internal though, from the outside everything looks the same. That’s ok, they looked fine as is and already featured high resolution displays.

You can grab the 21.5-inch iMac with an eighth generation quad-core i3 or a six-core i5 processor. They’ll come with a Radeon Pro 555X GPU or a Radeon Pro 560X respectively to power your display needs. If you need something with more oomph, you can always upgrade to an eighth generation six-core i7 processor with a Radeon Pro Vega 20 GPU. Pricing for the 21.5 inch iMac starts at $1099 and moves up from there.

If you need a bigger display, the 27 inch iMac also gets new processors today. You can choose eighth generation six-core i5 or move up to ninth generation eight core i9 processors. While you’re configuring, you can choose from the Radeon Pro 570X GPU or boost that to the Radeon Pro 580X GPU.

Apple is making a big deal of the new hardware options, pointing out that this is the first time the 21.5 inch iMac could use the Radeon Pro Vega series. The company claims that the new machines have twice the performance compared to the iMacs you could buy just yesterday. That’s believable given the time since the last refresh, but if you’re in the market for an iMac the changes should be welcome.

Apple Also Added New iMac Pro Options

iMac Pro Shopping page

Apple didn’t stop with the regular iMac line, and they have a serious question for you. Would you prefer to have a brand new Fiat 500 or a new iMac Pro? Because for $15,000, you can have the most decked out iMac pro ever.

Apple added on new configuration options for the iMac Pro, and that includes the opportunity to deck your unit out with 256 gigabytes of ram, and a Radeon Pro Vega 64X GPU. But the cost incredibly high. Bumping from 32 gigabytes of ram to 256 adds an eye-watering $5200 to the price tag (about a semester of college). And jumping from the Radeon Pro Vega 56 to the Radeon Pro Vega 64X will set you back an addition $700.

But if you want the most powerful iMac Pro possible, Apple gave you the option if you can afford it.

How to Stop Google Maps Review Requests on Android and iPhone

How Was Mo Climbing? notification

If you have Google Maps on your smartphone, you may receive notifications requesting a review for businesses you visit. Google usually asks “How was [Business Name]?” and expects a rating or review. Here’s how to turn those notifications off.

Google Maps Knows Everywhere You Go

Android locations settings options

Many apps request access to your location, even if they don’t need it. You shouldn’t give every app access to your location. But a map app requires location permissions to give you directions. What you may not realize is Google Maps continues to track you even when you’re not using the app thanks to your Google Maps location history.

If you spend much time at a store, for instance, you may get a notification after you’ve left—“How was [Store Name]? Help others know what to expect.” This can be especially annoying if the business in question is where you work. You wouldn’t want to rate the place you work, and if you don’t, you’ll get asked every time you go. These notifications are part of a Maps feature called “Your Contributions,” which solicits ratings and reviews.

Google even has a rewards program called Local Guide, you earn points for contributing, and Google promises you’ll get perks. Google doesn’t spell out what those perks are though, so your mileage may, and you could be giving up a lot of data about where you are for minimal reward.

If you don’t care about perks, and you don’t want the requests to review places you’ve been it’s easy to turn the notification off.

RELATED: How to View and Delete Your Google Maps History on Android and iPhone

How to Turn Off Review Request Notifications

We’ll demonstrate this process with Android, but the process is the same on an iPhone.

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