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Review: Canary View is a well-designed smart home camera that screams for HomeKit

https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/11/07/review-canary-view-is-a-well-designed-smart-home-camera-that-screams-for-homekit

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With an attractive, modern design and some great AI smarts, the Canary View is a fantastic and affordable security camera that unfortunately lacks support for Apple’s HomeKit.

Checking out the Canary View smart home security camera

Checking out the Canary View smart home security camera

The Canary View fits in the lower end of the lineup — below the All-in-One and the Flex. The former is the most equipped Canary while the latter is a modular indoor/outdoor camera.

Design and setup

We love the design of the Canary View. It has an approachable, subtle aesthetic that fits well into a variety of different homes. It is also well built, made mostly of aluminum. A subtle status light emits front eh bottom to give a glow when active that doesn’t scream “security camera.”

Rear of the Canary View smart home camera

Rear of the Canary View smart home camera

A supplied micro USB cable is included along with a custom power brick. The cable is a flat cable which is a nice touch and makes it a bit easier to tuck away.

There are two colorways available — black and graphite.

Touching the top of Canary View to start pairing

Touching the top of Canary View to start pairing

Setting up the Canary View was painless and fast — just taking a few moments from within the Canary app. After plugging it in, you put your finger on the top of the Canary for a few moments until the light flashes blue. It then will appear in the app, you confirm the device, and add it to your Wi-Fi network — or connect it over Ethernet. Then just assign a room and you are good to go.

When the app is launched, it takes you to a view with all the cameras in your home. A gaussian-blurred, full-screen image is displayed and you can swipe left and right to go between the “rooms” or cameras you have set up. On any of those rooms, you can tap “Watch Live” to tune in.

Canary app home view with status icons on the bottom

Canary app home view with status icons on the bottom

Along the bottom, you have a series of icons for different features. The first is the mode button, to cycle through away mode, home mode, and night mode. The second is the Safety Button which can be used to quickly dispatch emergency services should the need arrive.

Next to the Safety Button are all the users added to your home. Not only do you need to add users for them to be able to access the app, but the Canary will arm and disarm based on whether a user is home or not. A timeline view also shows the mode changes and when specific people come and go from the house.

Premium subscription

Of course, like many cameras, there is an optional premium component to Canary.

First — to be clear — Canary is entirely free to use if you so choose. It is still an excellent camera, very fast in response time, and the automatic mode switching works great to prevent errant alerts.

However, if you want to get more from the camera, you can subscribe to the premium plan. Included with that plan is 30 days of video storage (rather than just 24 hours), two-way talk, longer video clips, the aforementioned personal Safety Button, and an extended two-year device warranty.

Canary app timeline which is limited to 24 hours on the free plan

Canary app timeline which is limited to 24 hours on the free plan

It is quite a bit of extra features, but nothing you can’t live without. Most users don’t need 30 days worth of video storage. If an incident occurs, they can save that specific clip. Only on rare occasions would you need to go back and look at something from two weeks ago.

They do add extra value and I particularly like the Safety Button and two-way talk features. I at one point during my testing saw my dogs ripping into a trash bag I had left at the door. I used the two-way talk to scold them through Canary at which point they stopped and returned to the couch in shame.

Living with a Canary

I’ve been a Canary user since its humble, crowd-funded beginnings using the original all-in-one unit that also bakes in a siren, air quality monitors, as well as other features.

Canary View was a subsequent addition to my existing setup, providing more room coverage easily from within a single app. I’ve always been fond of the Canary app and its quick uptake of new Apple features such as rich notifications.

A Canary righ notification can be played right from the lock screen

A Canary righ notification can be played right from the lock screen

When notifications come in, it alerts you as to what kind of motion (general motion versus a person being detected) and will point out said motion with a yellow square. Right from the notification. This is very well done and allows you to quickly and easily see what the intrusion is and if you should be concerned. They can also be played right from the notifications negating the need to jump into the app.

Quick actions include the ability to watch live, bookmark the clip, or to jump into the app.

My dog registering as a person to Canary

My dog registering as a person to Canary

In my experience, however, the AI doesn’t quite detect the different kinds of motion correctly. For example, I can’t tell you how many times my dogs were reported as a “person” when they were not people.

The issues that this may or may not cause vary from installation to installation, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker for us in any way. It is something I hope Canary can improve over time.

Another issue that cropped up in my trial, was the Canary’s going offline. The camera dropping off would happen at random and at one point required contact with Canary’s support team who walked me through deactivating and re-adding the Canary to my home.

The re-addition wasn’t a difficult process to do, but you have to re-submit your address and add any members back to the home if you do go through this process. Fortunately, the support team was very fast and helpful —just wish I didn’t have to reach out to them to begin with.

To round out my experience, I have one more anecdote about how Canary was able to save the day. My wife and I headed out for a weekend vacation with the dogs on board but leaving the cat and two caged rabbits at home. Not long after we were on the highway, the Canary send us a notification about motion in the living room.

We looked and wrote it off as the cat before we double-took and noticed that it was one of the rabbits that had gotten loose and was running throughout our home. A good friend who worked nearby was able to contain the break-out before Dixie was able to cause too much damage.

The other camera we had in a similar area didn’t pick up on the bunny at all, making us very grateful for Canary.

HomeKit? No such luck.

The rub here is that there is no HomeKit support to speak of. Canary’s history with HomeKit is iffy at best, similar to the Ring saga.

On June 13, 2016, Canary announced with much fanfare just following the WWDC keynote that they’d be supporting HomeKit and would have additional information to share soon. Following that announcement Canary teased a “Plus” version of its camera that would launch following its All-in-One model.

Since then, they’ve released the Flex camera as well as the View camera — the latter which we’ve been reviewing here. Neither model supports HomeKit and apparently won’t be updated to support it either.

It is very disappointing that not only is HomeKit not supported here, but none of the other Canary cameras will either and the Plus camera is still MIA.

We genuinely like the Canary cameras, features, and quality, but as Apple itself is ramping up its HomeKit security camera efforts with the new iCloud video storage and secure HomeKit routers, some of the best security cameras are remaining mum.

Should you buy it

What will ultimately decide whether or not you should buy the Canary View is whether or not HomeKit is a must-have feature. If it is, look elsewhere. Look at the Arlo line or perhaps the Logitech Circle 2.

Canary View smart home security camera

Canary View smart home security camera

If you don’t need HomeKit though, then the Canary View is a stellar option to pick up.

The design is great, the build quality is fantastic, functionality is top-notch, and if you pick up the premium service for a year the camera is free. You can’t beat that.

If you want a bit more in the feature-department you can also always jump up to the All-in-One unit which packs in even more for only a marginal increase in price.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Attractive metal design
  • AI smarts
  • Well-designed app
  • Useful premium features
  • Great use of Apple rich notifications

Cons

  • Best features need subscription plan
  • No HomeKit support
  • AI notifications not always accurate
  • During the review the cameras went “offline” and needed re-added

For the Apple user that needs HomeKit, the Canary View is a 2.5 out of 5. If you’re more engrained in other home automation systems, it’s higher, but for the AppleInsider audience, we’ve unfortunately got to stick with that rating.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Where to buy

You can grab the Canary View on Amazon for $79.95 which includes a year’s worth of premium membership or you can buy it on its own for $49.95.

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These ten enterprise M&A deals totaled over $40B in 2019

It would be hard to top the 2018 enterprise M&A total of a whopping $87 billion, and predictably this year didn’t come close. In fact, the top 10 enterprise M&A deals in 2019 were less than half last year’s, totaling $40.6 billion. This year’s biggest purchase was Salesforce buying Tableau for $15.7 billion, which would…

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These ten enterprise M&A deals totaled over $40B in 2019

It would be hard to top the 2018 enterprise M&A total of a whopping $87 billion, and predictably this year didn’t come close. In fact, the top 10 enterprise M&A deals in 2019 were less than half last year’s, totaling $40.6 billion.

This year’s biggest purchase was Salesforce buying Tableau for $15.7 billion, which would have been good for third place last year behind IBM’s mega deal plucking Red Hat for $34 billion and Broadcom grabbing CA Technologies for $18.8 billion.

Contributing to this year’s quieter activity was the fact that several typically acquisitive companies — Adobe, Oracle and IBM — stayed mostly on the sidelines after big investments last year. It’s not unusual for companies to take a go-slow approach after a big expenditure year. Adobe and Oracle bought just two companies each with neither revealing the prices. IBM didn’t buy any.

Microsoft didn’t show up on this year’s list either, but still managed to pick up eight new companies. It was just that none was large enough to make the list (or even for them to publicly reveal the prices). When a publicly traded company doesn’t reveal the price, it usually means that it didn’t reach the threshold of being material to the company’s results.

As always, just because you buy it doesn’t mean it’s always going to integrate smoothly or well, and we won’t know about the success or failure of these transactions for some years to come. For now, we can only look at the deals themselves.

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Jumia, DHL, and Alibaba will face off in African ecommerce 2.0

The business of selling consumer goods and services online is a relatively young endeavor across Africa, but ecommerce is set to boom. Over the last eight years, the sector has seen its first phase of big VC fundings, startup duels and attrition. To date, scaling e-commerce in Africa has straddled the line of challenge and…

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Jumia, DHL, and Alibaba will face off in African ecommerce 2.0

The business of selling consumer goods and services online is a relatively young endeavor across Africa, but ecommerce is set to boom.

Over the last eight years, the sector has seen its first phase of big VC fundings, startup duels and attrition.

To date, scaling e-commerce in Africa has straddled the line of challenge and opportunity, perhaps more than any other market in the world. Across major African economies, many of the requisites for online retail — internet access, digital payment adoption, and 3PL delivery options — have been severely lacking.

Still, startups jumped into this market for the chance to digitize a share of Africa’s fast growing consumer spending, expected to top $2 billion by 2025.

African e-commerce 2.0 will include some old and new players, play out across more countries, place more priority on internet services, and see the entry of China.

But before highlighting several things to look out for in the future of digital-retail on the continent, a look back is beneficial.

Jumia vs. Konga

The early years for development of African online shopping largely played out in Nigeria (and to some extent South Africa). Anyone who visited Nigeria from 2012 to 2016 likely saw evidence of one of the continent’s early e-commerce showdowns. Nigeria had its own Coke vs. Pepsi-like duel — a race between ventures Konga and Jumia to out-advertise and out-discount each other in a quest to scale online shopping in Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation.

Traveling in Lagos traffic, large billboards for each startup faced off across the skyline, as their delivery motorcycles buzzed between stopped cars.

Covering each company early on, it appeared a battle of VC attrition. The challenge: who could continue to raise enough capital to absorb the losses of simultaneously capturing and creating an e-commerce market in notoriously difficult conditions.

In addition to the aforementioned challenges, Nigeria also had (and continues to have) shoddy electricity.

Both Konga — founded by Nigerian Sim Shagaya — and Jumia — originally founded by two Nigerians and two Frenchman — were forced to burn capital building fulfillment operations most e-commerce startups source to third parties.

That included their own delivery and payment services (KongaPay and JumiaPay). In addition to sales of goods from mobile-phones to diapers, both startups also began experimenting with verticals for internet based services, such as food-delivery and classifieds.

While Jumia and Konga were competing in Nigeria, there was another VC driven race for e-commerce playing out in South Africa — the continent’s second largest and most advanced economy.

E-tailers Takealot and Kalahari had been jockeying for market share since 2011 after raising capital in the hundreds of millions of dollars from investors Naspers and U.S. fund Tiger Global Management.

So how did things turn out in West and Southern Africa? In 2014, the lead investor of a flailing Kalahari — Naspers — facilitated a merger with Takealot (that was more of an acquisition). They nixed the Kalahari brand in 2016 and bought out Takelot’s largest investor, Tiger Global, in 2018. Takealot is now South Africa’s leading e-commerce site by market share, but only operates in one country.

In Nigeria, by 2016 Jumia had outpaced its rival Konga in Alexa ratings (6 vs 14), while out-raising Konga (with backing of Goldman Sachs) to become Africa’s first VC backed, startup unicorn. By early 2018, Konga was purchased in a distressed acquisition and faded away as a competitor to Jumia.

Jumia went on to expand online goods and services verticals into 14 Africa countries (though it recently exited a few) and in April 2019 raised over $200 million in an NYSE IPO — the first on a major exchange for a VC-backed startup operating in Africa.

Jumia’s had bumpy road since going public — losing significant share-value after a short-sell attack earlier in 2019 — but the continent’s leading e-commerce company still has heap of capital and generates $100 million in revenues (even with losses).

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Airbnb’s New Year’s Eve guest volume shows its falling growth rate

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. It’s finally 2020, the year that should bring us a direct listing from home-sharing giant Airbnb, a technology company valued at tens of billions of dollars. The company’s flotation will be a key event in…

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Airbnb’s New Year’s Eve guest volume shows its falling growth rate

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

It’s finally 2020, the year that should bring us a direct listing from home-sharing giant Airbnb, a technology company valued at tens of billions of dollars. The company’s flotation will be a key event in this coming year’s technology exit market. Expect the NYSE and Nasdaq to compete for the listing, bankers to queue to take part, and endless media coverage.

Given that that’s ahead, we’re going to take periodic looks at Airbnb as we tick closer to its eventual public market debut. And that means that this morning we’re looking back through time to see how fast the company has grown by using a quirky data point.

Airbnb releases a regular tally of its expected “guest stays” for New Year’s Eve each year, including 2019. We can therefore look back in time, tracking how quickly (or not) Airbnb’s New Year Eve guest tally has risen. This exercise will provide a loose, but fun proxy for the company’s growth as a whole.

The numbers

Before we look into the figures themselves, keep in mind that we are looking at a guest figure which is at best a proxy for revenue. We don’t know the revenue mix of the guest stays, for example, meaning that Airbnb could have seen a 10% drop in per-guest revenue this New Year’s Eve — even with more guest stays — and we’d have no idea.

So, the cliche about grains of salt and taking, please.

But as more guests tends to mean more rentals which points towards more revenue, the New Year’s Eve figures are useful as we work to understand how quickly Airbnb is growing now compared to how fast it grew in the past. The faster the company is expanding today, the more it’s worth. And given recent news that the company has ditched profitability in favor of boosting its sales and marketing spend (leading to sharp, regular deficits in its quarterly results), how fast Airbnb can grow through higher spend is a key question for the highly-backed, San Francisco-based private company.

Here’s the tally of guest stays in Airbnb’s during New Years Eve (data via CNBC, Jon Erlichman, Airbnb), and their resulting year-over-year growth rates:

  • 2009: 1,400
  • 2010: 6,000 (+329%)
  • 2011: 3,1000 (+417%)
  • 2012: 108,000 (248%)
  • 2013: 250,000 (+131%)
  • 2014: 540,000 (+116%)
  • 2015: 1,100,000 (+104%)
  • 2016: 2,000,000 (+82%)
  • 2017: 3,000,000 (+50%)
  • 2018: 3,700,000 (+23%)
  • 2019: 4,500,000 (+22%)

In chart form, that looks like this:

Let’s talk about a few things that stand out. First is that the company’s growth rate managed to stay over 100% for as long as it did. In case you’re a SaaS fan, what Airbnb pulled off in its early years (again, using this fun proxy for revenue growth) was far better than a triple-triple-double-double-double.

Next, the company’s growth rate in percentage terms has slowed dramatically, including in 2019. At the same time the firm managed to re-accelerate its gross guest growth in 2019. In numerical terms, Airbnb added 1,000,000 New Year’s Eve guest stays in 2017, 700,000 in 2018, and 800,000 in 2019. So 2019’s gross adds was not a record, but it was a better result than its year-ago tally.

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