Not content with infiltrating people's homes with its range of Echo devices, Amazon is now looking to elbow its way into hotels with Alexa for Hospitality. Amazon has struck a deal with Marriott International that will see the introduction of Echo devices into rooms.
Guests can use these to play music, contact reception and get information about the hotel -- and both Amazon and guests alike will be hoping there won't be a repeat of the recent privacy slip up that resulted in an Echo recording and sharing someone's conversations.
Rumors are swirling that it won’t be long before people could talk to their smart speakers to control aspects of their Xbox One systems. Details are scarce, but here’s what’s known so far.
Microsoft formerly offered voice control functionality for Xbox players through its Kinect accessory. But, once the company discontinued it in 2017, and then quit making Xbox One adapters for the Kinect shortly afterward, gamers became more limited. The Xbox One does have Cortana, but the availability of features that work with Alexa and the Google Assistant could help players do even more with their systems.
It was only a matter of time before Amazon properly combined two of its biggest home grown product lines -- Fire TV and Amazon Echo -- and today we get to see what the end result looks like.
Amazon Fire TV Cube is a hands-free 4K Ultra HD streaming media player with Alexa built in, allowing you to control your TV from across the room. You can use your voice to play, pause, and resume content, but that’s not all.
There was concern recently when a couple of Alexa users found that the smart assistant built into their Amazon Echo had not only recorded a conversation they had been having, but had sent it to an acquaintance.
Since this story broke, it is entirely understandable that other people who have Alexa listening in the background are worried that something similar could happen to them. If you want to check whether Alexa has been secretly/inadvertently recording you (delete according to your prejudices), we can show you how. If you find any recordings you want to ensure no one else hears, you can also delete them.
There have long been accusations that digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri are constantly listening in on and recording conversations, and recent events in Portland, Oregon are simply going to serve as extra fuel for conspiracy theorists.
A couple were disturbed to find that Alexa not only recorded a private conversation they had in their house, but then sent it on to a colleague as a message. Danielle says she and her husband felt it was "a total privacy invasion", and it is unlikely that Amazon's explanation will do anything to encourage her to use her Echo every again.
The smart home is a huge industry right now -- more and more appliances are gaining internet connectivity all the time. For instance, you can control your lights, garage door, television, and sprinkler system with an app nowadays. Hell, there are even internet-connected refrigerators! What a world we live in, eh?
Schlage has been selling smart deadbolt door locks that you can operate via app. Since they also have a key pad, you can share codes with friends and family so they can enter when you aren't around -- don't worry, you can always change the pin. The concept of a child carrying a key around their neck is a thing of the past. Today, the company announces that its Sense Smart Deadbolt and Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt are getting Alexa voice unlock capability. Wait -- is that a good idea? Actually, yes.
The voice assistant hardware market is exploding in popularity lately, with devices running software from Amazon, Google, and to a lesser extent, Apple. We can pretty much leave Cortana out of the conversation despite a very good hardware offering from Harman Kardon.
As Apple's HomePod fails due to a still-disappointing Siri, Google and Amazon's offerings remain the cream of the crop. Which of those two you prefer is a matter of personal preference, although I prefer Alexa having tried both. Today, Alexa is getting a unique new feature that sets it apart from Google even more. Called "Alexa Skill Blueprints," you can easily create custom Skills without any programming experience.
There’s a new Marvel superhero series on Fox called The Gifted that this week inspired my son Fallon, age 11, to predict the first Alexa virus, coming soon to an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show cloud device near you. Or maybe it will be a Google Home virus. Fallon’s point is that such a contagion is coming and there probably isn’t much any of us -- including both Amazon and Google -- can do to stop it.
The Gifted has characters from Marvel’s X-Men universe. They are the usual mutants but the novel twist in this series is that some of these particular mutants are able to combine their powers with terrible effect. They just hold hands, get angry, and it is mayhem squared.
Amazon Echo is amazing. That's my personal opinion of course, but I use it for various things every day. And yes, I know that some of you who wear tin-foil hats will say Amazon is listening to everything. It may well be, but I don't really care, I've accepted that trade-off in exchange for functionality.
I regularly use it to set a timer for cooking or baking, checking sports scores, game schedules, playing music and much more.
Amazon and Microsoft said that Alexa and Cortana would be able to talk to each other by the end of the 2017, but the two personal assistants have yet to receive this functionality until today. However, even without Cortana's help, Alexa is making a big leap forward in the Windows space.
Amazon has teamed up with leading PC manufacturers Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and HP to include its personal assistant on new Windows 10 devices that will arrive in 2018.
We're used to digital assistants controlling more and more aspects of our daily lives, but a UK police force is looking at how Amazon Echo could help in fighting crime.
Police in Lancashire, north west England, are looking at how Alexa could relay information about missing persons or updates on local crime to citizens. It could also be used in the reporting of minor offenses, freeing up police call centers to deal with more serious issues.
Amazon has been gradually expanding its range of Echo devices, and it has been possible to make free calls between Alexa-enabled devices for a few months -- now Amazon is extending the free calling capability even further.
Owners of any Amazon Echo device -- not just the latest batch -- can now make free calls to phones in the US, Mexico and Canada. No extra hardware or software is needed to take advantage of free calling.
I recently bought the Apple TV 4K, and I absolutely love it. What I don't love, however, is the price. The 64GB model that I purchased cost $200. While that was more than its competitor's 4K offerings, such as Amazon Fire TV, I was willing to open my wallet a bit wider for the compatibility with the Apple ecosystem, such as easily accessing my photos and videos in iCloud.
Today, Amazon unveils a new streaming TV box that features both 4K and HDR, but it is insanely affordable. This all-new Fire TV costs just $69.99! To make things even sweeter, for a limited time, Amazon will sell you an Echo Dot for $10 when you purchase the new Fire TV. Yes, you are reading that correctly -- for $79.99 you get a high-end 4K media box and a standalone Echo device.
Amazon's Echo and associated Alexa assistant have taken the world by storm. Despite being a big company, Amazon's success in this market was very unlikely. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple should be leading, but no, an online bookseller has been the true trailblazer in voice assistant technology.
Today, Amazon unveils the next generation Echo, and oh my, it looks amazing. Not only is it much shorter than its predecessor (still taller than Echo Dot), but it is wrapped in fabric, creating a more inviting experience in a home. It even has improved audio quality. Best of all? It is even less expensive at a mere $99. Unfortunately for Apple, this will essentially make its upcoming $349 Siri-powered HomePod dead on arrival.
The Internet of Things, commonly called the IoT, has become a hot topic these days for both the right and wrong reasons. It can be incredibly useful and time saving because of all the things that can be automated around the house, but there are also security risks.
Since the very early days of both Amazon Echo (Alexa) and the Wink home automation hub, the two products have worked together. Now that relationship is getting stronger, with the arrival of yet more Alexa compatible Wink products. While some of these new items will integrate straight with Alexa, others require a hub to work with voice control.