Items tagged with smart speakers

A shocking report by a news agency in Belgium claims that contractors paid by Google to transcribe audio recordings uploaded by Google Home smart speakers have also been able to hear private conversations that should have never been recorded in the first place. The recordings run the gamut from bedroom conversations to professional phone calls containing private information. We already know that Google thrives on data collection. That is how the company is able to tailor its services to users, including obviously its search engine, but also its AI assistant. In a related FAQ, Google explains that it "collects data that's meant to make our services faster, smarter, and more relevant, and more... Read more...
We have known for several months that Samsung is aiming to compete in the growing smart speaker market, though the company has yet to launch its anticipated Galaxy Home speaker with Bixby integration. Even so, however, the company is already looking ahead to launching a more compact version, presumably called the Galaxy Home Mini. Samsung's intentions have become known by way of a filing with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an "AI speaker." There is no other name attached to the device, but images of the upcoming speaker certainly look like a smaller version of the Galaxy Home, as shown above. There are not a lot of details to digest at the moment, just a bunch of... Read more...
In an apparent effort to stay competitive in the smart speaker war, Apple today clipped $50 off the price of its HomePod, bringing the cost down from $349 to now $299. The new price applies to both the White and Space Gray models. For those who are interested, the $50 savings negates the cost of adding an AppleCare+ warranty, which is an additional $39 charge. Apple is not exactly known for slashing prices on its products without a new model being announced. It's possible that a HomePod 2 is on the horizon, but more likely, Apple is trying to bolster sales and be more competitive in an increasingly crowded field, albeit one that is dominated by Amazon and Google (in that order). Up to this point,... Read more...
When it comes to electronics, one way to stretch your dollar is to stay a generation behind. This can prove particularly savvy if you strike right when a new product is announced, as the 'old' one might not be all that old or outdated at that point. Following that philosophy, you can snag a 2nd generation Echo Dot smart speaker with Alexa integration for only $22.99 right now. There are a couple of caveats. One is that Amazon just announced a 3rd generation Echo Dot, which releases on October 11. You'll spend more than twice as much, however, as the asking price is $49.99 on Amazon's website. The other caveat is that the discounted 2nd generation Echo Dot is used. Deal site Woot (owned by Amazon)... Read more...
More people are purchasing Google Home devices than Amazon's competing Echo products when shopping for a smart speaker, according to estimated data sales compiled by market research firm Canalys. Google now sits in the top spot of the worldwide smart speaker market in terms of growth, and appears to benefiting the most from what has become a boom market. The smart speaker market grew a staggering 187 percent the second quarter of 2018, with shipments reaching a combined 16.8 million units, compared to 5.8 million units in the same quarter a year ago. Google's Home smart speaker line accounted for 5.4 million of those of shipments, while Amazon came in second place with 4.1 million Echo device... Read more...
Are consumers putting too much trust into smart speakers that a monitor their surroundings and send recorded data over the web? That is a question that was recently posed, drawing a comment from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calling digital assistants and other IoT devices a "triple threat to privacy." Now just a few weeks later, security outfit Trend Micro is putting the call out for better security in IoT devices. Trend Micro set out to see just how safe and secure (or not secure, really) today's IoT devices are, and to what extent an attacker can manipulate these gadgets. In one example, Trend Micro examined a couple of popular products, the Sonos Play:1 and Bose SoundTouch. It... Read more...
One of the themes we expect to be in full force at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month is smart speakers. Amazon leads the charge with its Echo products, and following its success, others have jumped on board the smart speaker bandwagon, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Harman Kardon, to name a few. You can add LG to the list as well, which just unveiled its 2018 speaker lineup. Among LG's new speakers coming out is a soundbar with Google Assistant integration. It offers full connectivity to hubs, speakers, and other smart devices support Chromecast, and allows users to bark out commands starting with "OK Google" to pull audio from streaming sources. Outside of... Read more...
One of the unique features of Google's Home Max smart speaker is that it has an auxiliary (line-in) port, allowing customers to connect a turntable, cassette tape player, or other external music device. Part of Google's hope is that being able to use its Home Max will make it popular among musicians and DJs as a studio monitor, though the presence of a slight delay when using the audio port is curbing those plans, at least for now. For home consumers who are mostly interested in playing music, the small delay, which amounts to a few milliseconds, is not a big deal. However, it is a major annoyance (and deal killer) for DJs who use a mixer to preview the next song to play, as the delay makes it... Read more...
Amazon seems to have struck gold with its Echo products, capitalizing on the trend towards digital assistants that became popular in smartphones. In similar fashion, smart speakers offer a level of intelligent convenience—just bark out a command and Alexa (if you're using an Echo speaker) will fetch weather information, look up facts on the web, and even order a pizza, among many, many other tricks. But this level of functionality requires that smart speakers constantly listen to their surroundings, leading some to wonder if consumers are giving up too much privacy. There is an article at Gizmodo that advises against buying an Echo (or any voice-controlled) speaker for yourself, a family... Read more...
A smart speaker that does not allow you to make phone calls does not seem very smart, does it? Google agrees, and so the Mountain View outfit is bringing hands-free calling to its Google Home speaker. Starting soon, the AI assistant powering Google Home will allow users to make voice-activated phone calls for free to anyone in the United States and Canada, Google confirmed in a blog post. Call anyone (at their home, on their mobile or at their office). It’s easy to use, and it’s free," Google says. Being able to make hands-free phone calls brings Google Home one step closer to parity with Amazon's line of Alexa-powered Echo products, which introduced calling and messaging capabilities back in... Read more...