Items tagged with echo

If you do not care about having a fancy touchscreen on your smart speaker, you can score a pretty good deal on Amazon's original Echo model. Amazon is currently selling its voice-controlled Echo speaker with Alexa integration for $130, down 28 percent from its regular retail price of $180. It is available at that discounted price in both black and white color options as Amazon looks to make room for its Echo Show. Amazon announced the Echo Show last month. It is essentially a newer version of the original Echo smart speaker, but with a completely different design to accommodate a built-in 7-inch touchscreen display. Having a touchscreen gives the Echo Show several advantages over its predecessor—it... Read more...
Following the philosophy that some things are better late than never, Amazon has rolled out the ability to block calls and messages to its Alexa-powered Echo devices. For whatever reason, Amazon did not think to include call and message blocking from the start, which is a bit of a privacy concern—without that ability, anyone with your phone number and Alexa mobile app could leave a message that might get played over your Echo speaker.Users kicked up a fuss over the privacy oversight. Amazon heard the complaints and promised an update to address the issue, which is now available, at least for iOS. The free Amazon Alexa mobile app for iOS devices has been updated to version 2.0.2511 and now includes... Read more...
Amazon wants to make sure that its digital assistant only springs to life when it is actually summoned, versus misinterpreting a word or phrase for "Alexa." To make that possible, Amazon in introducing a new feature called Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification. Just as it sounds, the new feature is intended to improve the accuracy of its wake word detection scheme to reduce or eliminate false wakes caused by similar sounding words. "With this update, the wake word engine (WWE) on the device handles the initial detection of 'Alexa', and then a secondary cloud-based check verifies the utterance. If a false wake word is detected, the verification process directs the device to close the audio stream... Read more...
Amazon has been in the news a lot recently, mainly for its popular Alexa AI that powers its Echo family of products. The company last week announced the Echo Show, which features a 7-inch display, and today the company has revealed a partnership with Element to produce 4K Smart TVs. Element isn’t a brand that you would normally associate with high-end picture quality or plentiful features — it’s a brand that you would typically find at retail stores like Walmart or Target with budget pricing. However, Amazon isn’t letting that “cheap” stigma get in the way of spreading Alexa AI magic to more people. First and foremost, these new Fire TV Edition sets are running Amazon’s FireOS, which gives you... Read more...
Amazon's latest Alexa update is one that could prove extremely useful to those who want to keep in contact with friends and family through various Echo devices, coming to us in the form of Alexa Calling & Messaging. The premise is simple: you can use your Echo device to send and receive messages to anyone who also owns an Alexa device. While the feature appears to function quite well, there are some caveats and warnings that have popped up surrounding it. In a Medium post, Elise Oras says that Alexa Calling has a "major privacy" flaw, and after reading, you might just agree. For the sake of convenience, Alexa is able to pull down your contact list and automatically populate it inside of this... Read more...
Launching a successful technology product is sometimes all about timing. That was certainly the case when Amazon came out Echo two and a half years ago. The proliferation of increasingly affordable Internet of Things (IoT) products had started to bring smart home functionality into the mainstream, and with every modern smartphone wielding a digital assistant of some sort, Amazon figured (correctly) the market was ripe for a smart home speaker. Hence the Echo was born. Now going on three years later, Amazon is still dominating the smart speaker market. That is according to a new study, which pegs Amazon's share of the voice-controlled speaker market at precisely 70.6 percent. Put another way,... Read more...
Back in early March, we were given an early glimpse at an upcoming Amazon camera courtesy of AFTVnews, which stumbled across a picture of the device sitting on Amazon’s servers. Two months later, that product was revealed to be the Echo Look camera. Today, a small image of what could be a touch-screen Amazon Echo device has emerged. Like the earlier Echo Look leak, the image of the device was found on Amazon’s servers, just waiting to be discovered. OK, maybe the image wasn't really all that small...  The new Echo device is reportedly codenamed “Knight” and will be revealed later this month. It will also take its place as the flagship of the Echo family, likely surpassing the $179.99... Read more...
Does your Echo or Echo Dot sound a little too robotic for your tastes when responding to queries? If that’s the case, then Amazon is working diligently to make your digital assistant AI mastermind sound a bit more “human” with regards to its speech patterns. Until now, Alexa’s female voice, while helpful in an increasing number of ways thanks to thousands of skills, is rather monotone and speaks at a steady cadence. However, Amazon is infusing Alexa with the ability to whisper and even change the pitch of her voice. The changes come as additions to Alexa’s Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML). The new tags for developers that are incorporated into SSML include: Whispers: rather self-explanatory,... Read more...
Amazon is wasting no time in weaving its Alexa digital voice assistant into more of its services and apps. Last week, Alexa made its way to Amazon’s shopping app for iOS, allowing iPhone users to enjoy most of the benefits available to Echo and Echo Dot users including controlling smart devices. Today, Amazon is announcing that its popular Prime Now two-hour delivery service is now available through Alexa. That means that you can now use your Echo device to order “tens of thousands of daily essentials” with the sound of your voice. For those that don’t already know, Prime Now (in supported metropolitan areas) allows you to order everything from electronics to tools to snack items to last-minute... Read more...
Amazon’s Alexa AI voice assistant is making a run for Apple’s iOS platform, and it is doing so with its Amazon app for the iPhone and iPad. This move effectively turns your iPhone into an Echo-type device, allowing you access to the thousands of skills in Alexa’s rapidly expanding repertoire. Accessing Alexa is quite simple; you only need to tap the microphone button, which resides beside the camera button within the Amazon app. From there, you can ask Alexa to play music, tell you the weather forecast, make a purchase via Amazon, track a package, or any other number of functions that you might do with a dedicated Echo or Echo Dot. The downside to the app-centric approach, however, is that you... Read more...
Whether or not audio recorded by smart speakers such as Amazon's Echo is protected by the First Amendment of the United States is a legal argument that will have to wait for another day. That is because Amazon is no longer fighting a subpoena that was issued in an Arkansas murder case after the defendant gave the online retailer permission to share any data that might have been collected by his Echo device. James Andrew Bates of Bentonville, Arkansas, has been accused of drowning his friend Victor Collins in a hot tub back in November 2015. The two were having drinks and watching football with a couple of other friends on the night the alleged murder took place. As the night went on, one of the... Read more...
Is Amazon’s Alexa protected under the First Amendment of the United States? As part of an ongoing homicide investigation, Amazon argues that any information contained or recorded by the device is protected under “freedom of speech”. The corporation claims that it is not trying to obstruct the investigation, but protect the privacy rights of its customers. James Andrew Bates of Bentonville, Arkansas has been accused of drowning his friend Victor Collins in a hot tub back in November 2015. Bates and Collins had been drinking and watching football with two other friends the night the alleged murder took place. As the night went on, one of the friends left the residence while the other two, including... Read more...
Police are hoping that audio captured from an Amazon Echo smart speaker can help shed light on a murder investigation in Bentonville, Arkansas. The device belongs to James Andrew Bates, who was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after the victim, Victor Collins, was found dead in Bates' hot tub at his residence. Police determined the cause of death to be strangulation followed by drowning. Bates and Collins had been drinking and watching football with two other friends the night the alleged murder took place. As the night went on, one of the friends left the residence while the other two, including Collins, stayed when Bates offered up his couch and a spare bed for them to crash on.... Read more...
Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices have been a runaway sales hit for the online retailer. As we reported during the lead-up to Christmas, the Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap were nearly impossible to find online following enticing price cuts, while many brick and mortar stores also had trouble keeping the speaker/AI wunderkind in stock. Now, Amazon is putting up some hardware sales numbers (although still vague) to confirm the sellout reports that we’ve been seeing across the country. For starters, Amazon says that the Echo family of devices saw sales increase 9x during the holiday compared to the same time last year. The company also confirms that “millions of Alexa devices sold worldwide this year.”... Read more...
The Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas is going high tech by equipping all 4,748 rooms with an Amazon Echo smart speaker. Wynn Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn likened the hands-free speaker to having a personal butler, saying that in all the years he has been in the business he's never seen a better implementation of technology designed to make the user experience more seamless. He might be right, but having an Internet-connected speaker in every room also challenges the notion that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as the popular phrase goes. "As we have moved through the years, technology has always played an important part in our resorts," Wynn, Chairman and added. "The thing that Amazon has... Read more...
Amazon took the consumer electronics world by storm two years ago with the debut of its Echo speaker, which is powered by the Alexa intelligent digital assistant. The Alexa/Echo family has since grown to include the pint-sized Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap. During that time, Alexa’s skillset has also ballooned to over 5,500 skills. According to a new report, it looks as though Amazon is ready to take the next step in the evolution of the Echo speaker by adding a large touch screen. The new Echo’s 7-inch display will reportedly be capable of tilting so that it is readable in varied environments, even while sitting on a kitchen countertop. It’s also said that the device will feature vastly... Read more...
Online shopping may seem like the modern thing to do, but if you're moving your mouse and pecking away at your keyboard (or tapping on your touchscreen), you might already be behind the curve. That will be the case if voice shopping takes hold, as Amazon would like to see happen. From now until Monday, Amazon Prime members can shop online using their voice. This is Amazon's first ever voice shopping weekend event. Of course for this to work you need to own an Alexa-enabled device. There are several out there, including the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Fire HD tablet, and Fire TV. If you happen to have one, just say, "Alexa, what are your deals" each day to hear what items are on sale.... Read more...
Reviews for Google Home may have started flooding the internet this week, but Amazon’s Echo is still the device to beat when acting as your central hub for AI voice assistance and home automation. Now, Amazon is looking to make it even easier to add new Alexa skills to your Echo straight from Amazon.com to give it a leg up on the competition. Not only will Amazon customers be able to quickly browse Alexa skills with an easy-to-use interface, but developers will also have the ability to give customers direct access to their skills on Amazon via a single click. “On the page, customers can take actions, like enable and disable the skill and link their accounts,” writes Amazon’s David Isbitski. “For... Read more...
Move over Spotify and scoot your booty Apple, you'll both need to make room for Amazon. The world's largest online retailer is now an official player in the streaming music business with Amazon Music Unlimited, an on-demand music service boasting "tens of millions of songs," hand-curated playlists, and personalized stations. Oh, and it's pricing plans are rather attractive, too. The streaming music field has become a bit crowded in recent years, but if there was one company in a position to make some noise, it was Amazon. And that's exactly what it's doing. Pricing is pretty standard at $9.99 per month for non-Prime members, but if you have a Prime subscription, you get a discounted rate of $7.99... Read more...
The smart home category is one of the fastest growing segments and everyone wants a piece of it. That includes Apple, which is looking for another breakout product like the iPhone. Apparently Apple believes that product could be a smart home device similar to Amazon's Echo gadget, but powered by Siri instead of Alexa and sporting a few additional bells and whistles.People who claim to be familiar with Apple's plans say that Apple began work on the smart home device two years ago, and that the project just recently exited the research and development phase. Apple has yet to finalize plans for whatever hardware it's cooked up and it could even decide to sideline or trashcan the project altogether,... Read more...
Amazon Alexa has been gaining new skills at a dizzying pace. Back in early June, Alexa had amassed 1,000 skills, and by the end of that month the number had already jumped to 1,400. Today, that number stands at over 3,000. That’s a remarkable feat for the humble, voice-activated speaker that first launched back in late 2014. The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) has been around for roughly a year, and developers have wasted no time plugging their apps and services into Alexa and the Echo family of products. That was on display today with announcements of a dozen new Alexa skills including entries from Bloomberg, Food Network, KAYAK, and GE Appliances (for voice-activated appliances).... Read more...
Amazon is tired of being merely an online retailer and is aggressively expanding into brick-and-mortar store locations. The company plans on opening over a dozen pop-up stores in American malls over the next year. The stores will particularly focus on Echo home speakers and Alexa. While the Amazon bookstore that opened in Seattle last year is run by Amazon’s retail team, its pop-up stores will instead be organized by the devices team. The initiative is led by Senior Vice President of Devices and Services Dave Lim. The pop-up stores will therefore focus on Amazon devices such as the Echo and Kindle. These stores will provide Amazon with an opportunity for physical sales, since big-box retailers... Read more...
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