So, you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone, but it’s the last minute. What do you get someone that has everything? How about a device that connects with… everything?
We’ll take a look at five really awesome last minute IoT gift ideas that you can pick up right now at your local electronics store. These gifts are all very versatile and offer a unique value to their user.
So whether you’re buying gifts for that special someone in your life, a student going away for another semester of college, or a family member or friend that loves technology, these gifts are a great place to start.
Google is everywhere, and it is in everything. Your web browser, your phone, the search engine you use to explore the Internet, and now you’re home. These are all places where are likely to find Google’s products and services.
Google Home is a new assistant for your home that enables you to control smart devices throughout your home by voice command. It does a lot of the things that Google Now does on Android, but it takes it a step further.
You can use Google Home to control lights in a specific room or to add items to your shopping list. It can be used to play music from Google Play, Spotify, and Pandora. It can even pull up specific YouTube videos in an instant on a voice command.
With Google Cast, you can even tell Google Home to play specific playlists on specific speakers. If you only want to listen to music in your upstairs speakers, you can set that up in Google Home and activate it with a simple voice command such as, “Play my rock playlist on upstairs speakers.”
Google Home connects to a variety of third-party hardware, with more being added regularly after recently opening the platform to third-party developers to create their own “actions” for the device.
Another cool feature of Google Home is its design. It looks a little like an air freshener, but its speaker grill is interchangeable. This gives you a whole host of different color options to choose from. It also has a clean, minimalistic design that fits well in most modern living rooms.
Google Home is currently priced at $129.
If having Google running your smartphone isn’t your cup of tea, Amazon has a very interesting alternative. The Amazon Echo is arguably the better pick of the two for smart home users because of its extensive list of supported third party devices. Brands like Philips, Belkin, Nest, and Wink are all currently on board with the Amazon Echo.
The Echo also has more support for third party services in that it can do things like read your Twitter feed to you and add things directly to your Amazon shopping cart.
What the Echo isn’t as good at is providing information for the asking. You can ask for an update on the weather news. Where you will find frustration is in asking for more specific information. Google Home has an edge on Alexa on context. You can ask Home several consecutive questions about an actor, for example, without having to repeat that actor’s name each time.
Despite Google Home now being more accessible to third-party developers, Alexa already has over 3,000 skills and a library of features that integrate with services like Uber, Lyft, and more. You can have the Echo run you through a seven-minute workout or give you a news update on the fly.
Amazon’s Echo retails for $180 but can be found for as low as $140 during the holiday season.
Both of these options are an incredible step up from what was available in the virtual assistance space last year. There’s still a lot of innovation to come, as indicated by Mark Zuckerberg in a recent note about his quest to create JARVIS of Iron Man fame.
The 3rd gen Nest Learning Thermostat is a gorgeous piece of technology. It sits on your wall and saves you money. All while looking pretty snazzy.
What makes the Nest different from a regular programmable thermostat? It learns your habits when you turn the temperature up or down throughout the day, and can adjust the temperature in your home when you’re away to save you money.
The idea is that the Nest is smarter than even most “smart” thermostats. It can be used in conjunction with other Nest products, such as the indoor smoke + CO alarm, indoor camera, outdoor camera, and a variety of other third-party nest-enabled products.
It’s a great first step towards a modern smart home.
The Nest Learning Thermostat currently sells for $249.
Have you ever had a package disappear from your front porch? Ever had a visitor come to the door that you didn’t expect, and wanted to talk to them without opening the front door? How about a delivery or important visitor you just missed because you were a few minutes from home?
This is where the Ring Doorbell really shines. It’s a camera and a doorbell, and it starts streaming video from your front porch the moment someone approaches. Now, if someone shows up at your front door and you’re not available to answer it, you can talk to them through your smartphone or tablet with two-way communication built right in.
When coupled with Ring’s Stick Up Cam, a mount-anywhere battery-powered camera that alerts you and streams video from anywhere in or around your home, you will never have to deal with the mystery of missing packages or missed visitors again.
The Ring Video Doorbell currently retails for $199-249.
FitBit Charge 2
Fitness trackers are all the rage right now, and the FitBit Charge 2 has a lot of great features making it an excellent choice for anyone that wants to track their activity, heart rate, location, and to have a quick and easy way to check text messages on their wrist.
The FitBit Charge 2 isn’t as bulky as a full-featured smartwatch, such as FitBit’s Blaze, but it is packed with fitness-tracking features that make it a very appealing choice for even the die-hard fitness fanatic.
With the Charge 2, you can track your runs and walks through connected GPS. This requires a phone, but it will let you see exactly where you went on throughout the day. The Surge, FitBit’s top GPS fitness tracker, doesn’t require a phone to track the wearer’s location.
Where the Charge 2 really comes into its own is with its multi-sport tracking software giving you real-time updates specific to your current activity.
Whether you’re shopping for a fitness fanatic or a smart home enthusiast, there are still plenty of great gifts you can buy at the last minute to make their holiday a little brighter… and more connected.