Articles about Alexa

Alexa and the Wink home automation hub team up on colors 

Amazon Echo

Are you automating your abode? It's become the in-thing these days with more and more products hitting the market. While we can't stress enough about the insecurities that have been discovered, it still can be a fun experience, although sometimes a difficult one.

There's no end, seemingly, to the things you can do, but where many people start is with lights, which, in theory, are easy. Some aren't, so be warned.

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Alexa and Cortana will be able to talk to each other

Alexa Cortana

Digital assistants can do many things well, but no single one can do everything that we need. That's why we use different ones, depending on what we want to do and what device we are using. But what if they could talk to each other, so we wouldn't have to switch between them anymore?

Amazon and Microsoft have decided to do just that, announcing that Alexa and Cortana will soon be able to work together to help users do what they want much more quickly and easily. Here's what that means for the two tech giants' customers.

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Logitech Harmony gets simplified Amazon Alexa voice controls


When people think of Amazon Alexa, they probably just associate it with asking questions or playing music. For me and many others, however, the assistant is much more than that. She (Alexa is female) controls my lights, thermostat, and even my television by integrating with my Harmony Hub. While relaxing on my couch, I no longer need to reach for a remote -- I just tell her what to do. Is it laziness? I suppose, but it is very cool too.

While Alexa and Harmony work very well together, there is one big issue. When I call upon Alexa, I can't just tell her what to do -- I must first say "Tell Harmony to" followed by the command. For example, when I want to watch TV, I must say "Alexa, tell Harmony to turn on the TV" rather than just "Alexa, turn on the TV. Today, this changes, as Logitech Harmony gets simplified Amazon Alexa voice controls. In other words, the pesky "tell Harmony to" is no longer needed. Finally!

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SiriusXM comes to Alexa and it's great


SiriusXM is a really satisfying service. Not only is it great for commercial-free music, but it offers some great talk radio, such as Howard Stern. You can even listen to popular news programs from CNN, Fox News, and more. Let's not forget the great sports coverage too.

Unfortunately, many people only listen to SiriusXM in the car, as that is where their equipment is. Luckily, there is a new convenient way to listen to the satellite service in your home -- Alexa. Yes, Amazon's assistant has a new SiriusXM skill that allows an Echo device to play your favorite channels. I have been using it this morning and it is quite brilliant.

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'Alexa, how do people interact with Alexa?'


A new study analyzing the way users interact with their "smart speakers" shows that the most used feature of devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home isn't to stream music or even to get the latest weather.

The most commonly used feature of smart speakers is asking "general questions," proving that getting answers to life's daily queries and curiosities from a cloud-based computer voice is becoming an increasingly standard practice in today's society.

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Belkin Wemo smart home devices will soon be compatible with Apple HomeKit and Siri


Belkin's Wemo smart home devices are absolutely brilliant. Not only does the company offer power outlet and light switch adapters, but it recently introduced a dimmer switch too. The Wemo products are also compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, making them easy to control by voice.

Unfortunately, Wemo devices are not compatible with Apple HomeKit or Siri. There is good news, however -- Belkin is adding support. Starting this fall, consumers can buy a new product called "Wemo Bridge," which will enable HomeKit support for existing Wemo devices. It simply plugs into an Ethernet port on your router, thereby enabling support for Apple's smart home platform.

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Digital assistants set to outnumber people by 2021

digital assistant

The number of digital assistants installed is on track to exceed 7.5 billion by 2012, which is more than the world population.

According to technology research company Ovum, Google Assistant will dominate the voice AI–capable device market with 23.3 percent market share, followed by Samsung's Bixby (14.5 percent), Apple's Siri (13.1 percent), Amazon's Alexa (3.9 percent), and Microsoft's Cortana (2.3 percent).

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Newton email app now available for Windows, Alexa support arrives

Newton Alexa

Of all the email apps I have used in recent years, Newton (formerly known as CloudMagic) is my favorite. It is really easy to use, works with all the major email providers, has some pretty cool features, and, most importantly, is available on Android, iOS and macOS. So it nearly covers all the major platforms, except Windows.

CloudMagic, the company behind the app, has been working to change this since December, however, and now we get the first beta version of Newton for Windows. It is rough around the edges at this stage, as you might expect, but it will get the "core emailing" job done.

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GE Appliances connected window air conditioners get Amazon Alexa support


Summer is right around the corner, meaning the temperatures in many places will begin rising to uncomfortable levels. It's funny -- in the winter, many people get cold and dream of summer, and once that season comes, they complain about the hot weather. There' s just no pleasing some folks!

Thankfully, with the invention of air conditioning, human beings can use technology to stay cool. If you aren't lucky enough to have central air in your home, a window unit is the next best thing. Today, GE Appliances announces that its Wi-Fi connected window models are getting Amazon Alexa support. In other words, using the power of your voice, you can control the air conditioning.

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TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Bulbs get color change Amazon Alexa skill


Turning on a lamp or other light fixture with your voice can feel like magic. I use the feature every day with my Amazon Echo and WeMo smart outlet. At the end of the evening, when heading to bed, I verbally tell Alexa to turn off the lamp. If I need to get up at night for, say, a drink of water, I can easily turn it back on the same way. It is great.

WeMo is not the only game in town, however, as there are plenty of smart outlets an bulb manufacturers. TP-Link is a popular manufacturer of smart devices, and its bulbs are compatible with Alexa voice commands too. Today, the company's color-changing bulbs are gaining a new Alexa skill. Using your voice, you can easily change the color or white balance with ease.

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Daptly's smart display is a digital assistant for your home

Daptly smart mirror

More and more of us are using voice operated personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, but a voice only interface can prove frustrating as it offers no visual cues.

Technology startup Daptly is aiming to build a better assistant with a smart, gesture and voice controlled display that manages your life and seamlessly blends technology into your home or office.

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Building an Alexa Skill without using the SDK

amazon echo

Amazon has written a "Hello World" example for building an Alexa Skill. At first glance, it looks like just what you need to get into Alexa Skills development because it's short and clear. But take a second look and you'll notice it requires an external dependency.

It brings in the alexa-sdk npm package. I'll show that not only don't you need the alexa-sdk to teach Alexa a Skill but you might actually be better off without it.

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A pioneer's guide to Alexa

echo amazon

Have you seen Star Trek? If you haven’t, you should. One of the pieces of future tech that is quietly on display throughout the show is the ability to talk to the computer. Whether it’s asking the computer where someone is or ordering a cup of earl grey tea, the computer has no problem understanding the questions it is asked, and who’s asking them.

Amazon’s Alexa products claim that they are this shining vision of the future! Not only that, you can write your own apps for the platform. Amazing! Right? Well, we’re not quite there yet. So, what are the challenges and limitations? Is there anything we can do to hack our way through the tough parts? Can we achieve our dreams even if we emerge a bit bloody and beaten? Let's find out.

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How to create your first Alexa skill


For the last couple of weeks, Graham, Marcel, Sinem and I, from Red Badger, have been experimenting with Amazon’s Alexa Echo Dot. An Electric Hockey Puck that uses voice recognition powered by Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

In this post, I’d like to explain how one goes about creating their first Alexa skill.

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5 things to keep in mind when building an Alexa skill


A team of us at Red Badger, which consisted of myself, Marcel, Graham and Roman, had two weeks to play around with Amazon’s Alexa and build a sommelier skill to recommend wine pairings to your food. We’re writing a four-part series to take you through what we learned from our varied perspectives.

There’s been so many blog posts written about the rise of chatbots and Voice User Interface (VUI), some even marking 2017 to be the year of the bots.

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