U.K. Smart Home Firm Hive Rolls Out HomeKit Support for Active Line of Products

Hive, the U.K. smart connected home company backed by British Gas, has quietly added Apple HomeKit support to its range of smart home products.


First spotted by iMore, the support is part of a software update that began rolling out late last week. When the soft launch is complete, Hive’s ‌HomeKit‌ compatible accessories include all its Active Smart Plug, Heating, and Connected Lighting products.

The development comes some time after Hive said it was working on supporting ‌HomeKit‌ in its product line. The company mad the original announcement after rolling out Siri Shortcuts support in June 2019.

To get Hive products up and running with ‌HomeKit‌, owners will need the latest Hive Hub or the Hub 360, both of which can be updated to version 10.28.0 of the software via the Hive app.

After the update is installed, owners should open the menu in the Hive app and tap Install Devices, where they’ll find the ‌HomeKit‌ option with setup instructions at the bottom of the menu.

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‘BBC Together’ Service Lets UK Users Enjoy BBC Content With Others Remotely

The BBC has launched a new experimental online service that lets users watch or listen to BBC programs, prodcasts, and radio with others over the internet at the same time.


Called BBC Together, the online tool is available on Taster, the BBC’s experimental platform, which can be accessed via any web browser. The way it works is that one user finds the link of a program or video clip they want to watch with others – from BBC iPlayer, Sounds or Bitesize, BBC News and Sport websites – and then they paste it into the BBC Together service.

This creates a new group session, which can be shared via a link with friends or family. Each link can currently be watched by up to 50 participants, and the host user can pause, rewind, and fast-forward the content, or choose a new program for everyone to watch at once.

If the idea sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Netflix Party, an extension for Google’s Chrome web browser that lets users watch Netflix films and TV shows simultaneously. The service has seen a boost in numbers since the stay-at-home measures came into effect, so BBC Together could also prove a hit, although the Beeb says it’s still just a test run for now.

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Apple and Google in ‘Standoff’ With UK Health Service Over COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

Apple and Google are said to be in a “standoff” with the UK’s health service over its plans to build an app that alerts users when they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.


Apple and Google announced on Friday that they are working together on Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world.

Apple says that user privacy and security will be central to the design of the project, which will use a decentralized API to prevent governments from building a surveillance-style centralized database of contacts.

However, according to The Guardian, that means if the NHS goes ahead with its original plans, its app would face severe limitations in its operation.

NHSX – the British health service’s digital innovation unit – reportedly wasn’t aware of Apple and Google’s project before it was announced, and it now looks like the usefulness of its own app will be severely hampered or even rendered non-functional if it doesn’t implement the protocol.

That’s because without adhering to the Apple and Google API, a contact tracing app won’t be able to access Bluetooth when it’s running in the background, and would only work when the app was open and the phone unlocked.

Similar limitations have been demonstrated in Singapore’s contact tracing app, TraceTogether, which requires the user to leave their phone unlocked to work properly. The app has a three-star rating on the App Store and has been installed by just 12 percent of the country’s population.

For its part, a spokesperson for NHSX denied claims of a “standoff,” telling The Guardian: “This suggestion is completely wrong. Everyone is in agreement that user privacy is paramount, and while our app is not dependent on the changes they are making, we believe they will be helpful and complementary.”

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UK to Use Apple-Google API in NHS Contact Tracing App

The UK’s NHS has confirmed plans to use Apple’s contact tracing technology in an upcoming app that will warn users if they’ve recently been in contact with someone suspected to be infected with coronavirus (via BBC News).


The health secretary Matt Hancock, who announced the move at the government’s daily pandemic press briefing, said the NHS was “working closely with the world’s leading tech companies” on the initiative.

Apple and Google are working together on Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world. Apple says that user privacy and security will be central to the design of the project.

The BBC reports that the British health service’s digital innovation unit, NHSX, wasn’t aware of the project before it was announced on Friday, but now plans to integrate the technology into its app.

Doing so should mean the NHS app won’t have to use workarounds to keep monitoring the signals even when the app is not being used.

The basic idea behind the app is that people who have self-diagnosed as having coronavirus will be able to declare their status in the app, which will then send an alert to anyone who has recently been close to them for an extended period of time.

“If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app,” Hancock explained.

“And the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.

“All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards, and would only be used for NHS care and research.

“And we won’t hold it any longer than is needed.”

According to the report, a pre-release version of the software will be tested with families at a secure location in the North of England next week.

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Roku’s Free Ad-Supported Channel Launches in the UK

Streaming device maker Roku has launched its free ad-supported Roku Channel in the UK, offering access to over 10,000 movies, TV shows, and documentaries at a time when stay-at-home entertainment is in high demand.


The Roku Channel can be accessed on Roku devices and – thanks to exclusive UK partnerships – Now TV sticks and Sky Q set-top boxes via the dedicated Roku app.

If you’re fine with watching content interspersed with ads, there’s plenty of British fare to get stuck into, including the likes of Fifth Gear, Skins, Get Carter, and The Wicker Man. There isn’t any sign-in requirement or profiles to set up when you launch the app, so getting started is pretty painless.

“With The Roku Channel we are making it easy for consumers to find great free entertainment and provide additional value to Roku users, Now TV device holders and Sky Q customers,” said Roku vice president of programming, Rob Holmes.

“Ad-supported viewing is one of the fastest growing categories on our platform and we are excited to meet the consumer demand for free TV.”

Since it launched in the US in 2017, the Roku Channel has added a browser-based web player, live news, a dedicated kids and family section, and an option to subscribe to premium content providers like Showtime and HBO.

Out of those, only the kids and family section is available in the UK at present. However, the British-version of the Roku Channel features over 40 content partners, including Hollywood studios such as Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Television, and more publishers are expected to be added in the future.

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