WINK HUB 2 $99

Home connectivity relatively easy with hub

Home automation is exploding in popularity, but there is still a struggle with standards and compatibility.

Apple is trying to make waves with its Homekit system, but it hasn’t stepped up to make a hub that will make things easy to configure. Samsung has its SmartThings hubs and products, but the system that’s been around as long as any of them is from Wink.

Hubs are the unsung heroes of home automation. Once you configure them, they just sit quietly in your home directing traffic. The heart of the Wink Hub 2 is the Wink app for your smartphone. You use the app to connect devices to the hub, then you use the app to control your devices.

Once you have your devices connected to the hub, you can start building work flows to help the devices talk to each other and even get things to turn on or off automatically depending on the situation. If you have an Amazon Echo device, you can link the Wink Hub to the Echo and control the system with your voice.

When I open my front door, I just say, “Alexa, turn on the living room lights.” In about one second, just as Alexa is answering, “OK,” the lights come on.

The original Wink hub had to connect wirelessly to your home’s Wi-Fi network; the new version is wireless but also has an Ethernet port. It would be nice if Wink could add compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit. Wink has said that it would like to support Homekit, but Apple has not opened the system to that type of integration.



App can log location data, running routes

The neatest one-size-fits-all sports app at the moment is Endomondo. This app can log location data and time runs, walks, bike rides and more. At its core, this app is a smart location-aware stopwatch and pedometer. Endomondo has a straightforward on-screen display that shows elapsed time, distance covered and calories burned. With one swipe, you can look at a GPS-based map to see where you have already been and plan where you may go next. Endomondo also logs sessions so you can see how your performance has varied over time, showing distance and energy burned on an easy-to-read graph. The easy-to-use app accomplishes all of this with a clean-looking interface and minimalist controls.