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The Ecobee became the first third-party product to integrate Siri into its smart speaker, and we’ve been testing it with our Ecobee SmartThermostat for the past few days. Here’s how it works, how to set it up and what it can do.
What do you need
To get started, you’ll need Ecobee’s current SmartThermostat. This thermostat has been working with HomeKit since its launch and is now becoming more capable with this update. Fortunately, existing owners will not have to buy a new device.
SmartThermostat must have firmware version 22.214.171.1242 or later, and HomePod mini must be on software version 15.
A HomePod mini is also required (check the latest prices). To protect user privacy, third-party speakers with Siri only route your requests through the HomePod mini. The HomePod mini has much more processing power and is more secure than competing assistants.
As long as both devices are installed on the same network, you are ready to install Siri.
How to set it up
Setup is as simple as it should be. If you are installing the thermostat for the first time with the HomeKit, it will appear as one of the cards during the installation experience. If you have already connected the thermostat, it is something different.
Add Siri to your Ecobee SmartThermostat
- Make sure your Ecobee SmartThermostat is up to date
- Open the Home app
A warning should appear at the top of the Home tab. Touch Use Siri
- The card will animate up at the bottom of the screen explaining how you can talk to Siri
- Touch Turn it on
Once enabled, there will be a new Siri settings section of your Ecobee SmartThermostat.
In the panel of this setting you can turn on and off “Hey Siri”, turn on “touch and hold for Siri”, as well as turn on and off the lights and sound. Siri’s voice can be set and personal demands can enable or disable.
Your Siri history can also be deleted here.
What can he do
With the addition of Siri, you can use your SmartThermostat much like your HomePod mini. You can ask Apple’s assistant for common queries, control smart home devices, and customize media playback.
The intercom is supported on the SmartThermostat so you can more easily communicate with your family, as well as timers and alarms. Countdown timers and alarms are displayed within the Home app, as are the HomePod and HomePod mini.
If you have a HomeKit doorbell or a video camera on the door, your Ecobee SmartThermostat may also sound.
Returning to those media controls, Siri wasn’t the only feature added by this update. It also brings support for AirPlay 2, albeit in beta.
This can be enabled within the SmartThermostat settings, as well as everything else. You can then stream audio from almost any Apple device to the SmartThermostat. Appears in your AirPlay menu next to your dedicated AirPlay speakers, HomePod, Smart TV and Apple TV.
You can call Siri by touching the screen or you can use only voice. Say “Hey Siri” at your fingertips from your SmartThermostat and it will come to life.
A light similar to the one on the HomePod screen will appear at the top to let you know Siri is listening. You can then set your request as normal.
So far, we have been impressed with the integration. It worked out exactly as we expected. Our biggest concern was that we would start having too many Siri devices nearby so that would be confusing. We have our HomePods, Apple Watch, iPhone and iPads with Siri “Hey Siri” support, but almost every time we would wake up to the right speaker.
Sometimes we would wake up multiple speakers, but then the others would come back and only one speaker would become the one actively listening. We stood in front of the Ecobee SmartThermostat a few times and instead turned on our HomePod mini in another room, but it was still close enough for us to get there easily, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.
How useful all this will be depends on your home. In a way, it’s similar to buying an additional HomePod mini, without having to dedicate counter space or money. If you have an Ecobee SmartThermostat in the living room or kitchen, that’s huge because you don’t have to find a place to turn on and set up the smart speaker. It mounts to your wall.
The speaker aspect is also fun. As an AirPlay 2 speaker, it can be set up for multi-room sound. Let the sound come from every room in your house during the party or just during the massive spring cleaning. The speaker here though isn’t amazing. It’s capable, but not as good as a real HomePod mini or a larger dedicated speaker. For listening to music or an audio book while cooking, that’s fine.
There are differences between this and buying another HomePod mini. HomePod mini, as we mentioned, is still processing. This is also what runs your smart home. It acts as your Home Hub and Thread border router. He also has a nice HandOff experience using the U1 ultra broadband chip.
Still, it remains that the Siri coming to the Ecobee SmartThermostat is nothing short of great. This has long been our HomeKit thermostat of choice, and now there are even more reasons to recommend it.
When we originally reviewed the SmartThermostat from Ecobee at launch, we said there was only one thing missing — AirPlay 2. Now that it’s there, besides Siri, there’s no reason this isn’t a five-star device.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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