Apple’s smart home platform now has its first Nest competitor

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Slowly but surely, Apple’s smart home platform continues to expand as more third-party manufacturers develop their own smart home gadgets with HomeKit support, and the latest such gadget may be the most useful one yet. Known as the Onelink, this $110 smart smoke detector is important because it compete directly with the Nest Protect, which was one of the first smart home gadgets to hit the market, and since it’s owned by Google, it hasn’t been bothered to make its devices compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. 

Apple’s smart home platform keeps growing with the arrival of the first HomeKit-enabled smoke detector. The Onelink smoke and CO detector ($110 at Lowe’s) from First Alert connects to iOS devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, letting users test the alarm and get remote notifications, even outside the house. The companion smartphone app can call 911 directly, and uses voice and location to help get occupants to safety. If more than one detector is installed, they can talk to one another and sound alarms in unison. Instead of using replaceable batteries, Onelink’s detector has a battery pack built in. It should last about 10 years, at which point users will need to buy a new detector. (As The Verge notes, safety agencies such as FEMA recommend replacing smoke detectors every 10 years anyway.) Onelink also sells a hardwired version for $120, with a built-in night light and a battery backup. The basic functionality sounds similar to Nest’s Protect smoke detector, except that Nest hasn’t bothered to support Apple’s HomeKit framework. Instead, Nest has been steadily building out its own integrations with other smart home products. For instance, Protect’s motion sensors can help determine whether you’re home or away, adjusting Nest’s Learning Thermostat accordingly. Onelink isn’t touting any nifty integrations like that, but does support some basic HomeKit features. For instance, users can ask Siri to dim the smoke detector’s night light or check on alerts from an iPhone or Apple Watch.

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