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Ecobee has become 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 several days. How it works, how to configure it and what it can do.
What you need
To get started, use Ecobee’s current SmartThermostat. This thermostat has been working with HomeKit since its launch and is now only becoming more capable with this update. Fortunately, existing owners do not have to buy a new unit.
SmartThermostat must be running 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 the privacy of the user, third-party speakers with Siri simply direct 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 configured and on the same network, you are ready to configure Siri.
How to set it up
The setup is as easy as it should be. If you configure the thermostat for the first time with HomeKit, it will appear as one of the cards during the onboarding experience. If you already have the thermostat connected, it is a bit different.
Adding 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. Press Use Siri
- A map will animate up from the bottom of the display explaining how to talk to Siri
- Press Turn on
Once enabled, there will be a new Siri section in your Ecobee SmartThermostat settings.
From this settings panel you can turn “Hey Siri” on and off, turn on “press and hold Siri”, and turn the light on and off. Siri’s voice can be set and personal requests can be activated or deactivated.
This is also where your Siri history can be deleted.
What it can
Once Siri is added, you can use your SmartThermostat much the same way you use your HomePod mini. You can ask your Apple Assistant your usual queries, control your smart home devices, and adjust media playback.
Intercom is supported on SmartThermostat, so you can more easily communicate with your family, as well as timers and alarms. Timers and alarms are both displayed in the Home app, the same as the HomePod and HomePod mini.
If you have a HomeKit doorbell or a video doorbell camera, it can also ring your Ecobee SmartThermostat.
Returning to these media controls, Siri was not the only feature added with this update. It also provides support for AirPlay 2, albeit in beta.
This can be activated from within SmartThermostat’s home settings, just like everything else. You can then cast audio from almost any Apple device to the SmartThermostat. It appears in your AirPlay menu along with your dedicated AirPlay speakers, HomePod, Smart TVs and Apple TV.
You can summon Siri with a tap on the display, or you can just use your voice. Say “Hey Siri” within range of your SmartThermostat and it’s coming to life.
A light appears at the top in colors similar to those displayed on top of a HomePod to tell you that Siri is listening. You can then make your request as usual.
So far, we have been very impressed with the integration. It has worked exactly as we had expected. Our biggest concern was that we would start having too many Siri devices around that it would be confusing. We have our HomePods, Apple Watch, iPhone and iPads with Siri “Hey Siri” support, but almost every time the correct speaker would wake up for us.
Sometimes we would get more speakers to wake up, but then the rest would return and only one speaker would become the active listener. There were a few times we stood in front of the Ecobee SmartThermostat and our HomePod mini in the other room chimed in instead, but it was still close enough that we could easily get here, so it was no problem at all.
How useful this all depends on your home. In some ways, it’s similar to getting an extra HomePod mini without having to spend counter space or money on it. If you have your Ecobee SmartThermostat in your living room or kitchen, this is huge because you do not have to find a place to connect and place your smart speaker. It is mounted on your wall.
The speaker aspect is also fun. As an AirPlay 2 speaker, it can be configured for sound in multiple rooms. Get sound from every room in your house during a party or just during a massive spring cleaning. However, the speaker here is not great. It is capable, but not as good as a true HomePod mini or larger dedicated speaker. However, to listen to music or an audiobook while cooking is just right.
There are differences between this and just buying another HomePod mini. The HomePod mini, as we mentioned, is still the treat. It is also what drives your smart home. It acts as your Home Hub and a wire boundary router. It also has the lovely HandOff experience of using the U1 ultra Wideband chip.
Still, it’s still that Siri coming to the Ecobee SmartThermostat is nothing short of amazing. This has long been our favorite HomeKit thermostat, and now there is even more reason to recommend it.
When we originally reviewed the SmartThermostat from Ecobee at launch, we said that only one thing AirPlay 2 was missing. Now that it’s here, along with Siri, there’s no reason why this is not a full five star device.