Tag - Echo
We really wanted to talk about something other than the Apple-FBI dust-up this week, and so we tried our best -- but when the story takes a turn for the bizarre and dismaying, you have to face up to it at some point. First, however, Editor Charles and Managing Editor Mike calm themselves by chatting about the latest twists and turns in the world of Apple rumors, Mike's new Apple Watch and his initial impressions, the expansion of the Amazon Echo line with new accessories, and then penultimately all the new developments in the Apple-FBI dispute, before finishing off with William and his App of the Week.
The Amazon Echo, the network-connected speaker hosting the retailer's Alexa assistant, has gone on sale through a third-party store for the first time. Staples is offering the cylindrical speaker through its website to all customers priced at $180, the same as Amazon. So far, it can only be acquired through the Staples website, with delivery to local stores available as a shipping option, though there is still the potential to sell it from stores directly.
Amazon is allowing third-party developers and companies access to Alexa, the digital assistant included in the retailer's Echo network-connected speaker. As well as a collection of tools and APIs, Amazon is helping accelerate the push to make Alexa as useful as Siri and Google Voice Search by launching the Alexa Fund, a scheme where it will offer up to $100 million in investments to support developers and start-ups making use of the software and the technology.
Amazon has finally made its Echo network-connected speaker available for purchase by anyone, seven months after the company initially launched the device. Previously only sold to Amazon Prime subscribers and on an invitation-only basis, the Echo can now be bought by all customers in the United States without requiring an invitation, with the retailer expecting to start shipments of the device on July 14.
Amazon has updated its Echo network-connected speaker to work with Audible. Via voice prompts using the Alexa assistant or the Amazon Echo App, the speaker can start reading out Audible audiobooks to the user, with vocal commands allowing the book to be requested by title, paused, resumed, and to go forward or back 30 seconds. It also works with Whispersync for Voice, allowing listeners to pick up an audiobook from where they left off on another device.
Alexa, the virtual assistant that forms part of the Amazon Echo network-connected speaker, has been upgraded to allow it to read Google Calendar events. Android Central reports Alexa can now be linked to the user's Calendar and will respond to queries about it, such as "Alexa, what's on my calendar?" and "When is my next event?" So far, it appears Alexa can only read appointments, not add new items, but this could be included in a future update of the device.
Amazon has made it easier for owners of its Echo to do online shopping, in what is an expected expansion of the capabilities of the retailer's portable speaker. Prime subscribers are now being given the option of placing orders for items they shopped for previously by voice commands alone, via the Alexa digital assistant, half a year after the Echo initially launched.
Amazon has updated the Echo portable wireless speaker to work with Prime Stations. An email sent to Prime subscribers owning the device advises that the Alexa digital assistant can be commanded to play a personalized ad-free station from Prime Music. The verbal command "Alexa, play the Bruno Mars Prime Station" will start streaming the relevant station through the speaker, with "Alexa, thumbs up/thumbs down" rating the track for further personalization, and "Alexa, what song is this?" to receive more track details.
Amazon Echo network-connected speaker and Alexa virtual assistant has been updated with the ability to make and receive commands through If This Then That (IFTTT). The new Amazon Alexa IFTTT Channel allows users to set new commands or "recipes" for the device to follow, expanding its functionality to work with a large number of well-known online services.
The Amazon Echo has been updated to include support for other connected devices. The voice-controlled device is able to make changes to the WeMo Switch, Insight Switch, and Light Switch, reports TechCrunch, with the Hue A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom, and LightStrip also supported, allowing users to verbally alter the lighting or control other devices.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.83 ( -2.99 )
Macphun offers free Photos filters
Image editing software maker Macphun are offering a free set of up to 30 photo filter effects to extend the range of filter options available to users of Apple's Photos app for OS X, which replaced the previous iPhoto program. The first 15 filters are available after installing the software, and includes filters such as "Ancient Canvas" and "Twilight," while users who sign up for the Macphun newsletter will unlock the other 15 effects. The extension integrates directly into Photos, and include sliders for finer control of the effects and a masking brush. http://bit.ly/1VEgQD6
Snapchat sued over speed filter photo overlay
Accident victims in Spalding County, GA are suing Snapchat, as well as the driver responsible for the accident. The suit alleges that the app's "speed filter," which can post the speed that which a picture was taken, encouraged driver Christal McGee to attempt to reach 100 miles per hour in her car, leading to the accident that caused both Wentworth and Karen Maynard serious injuries. The suit alleges Wentworth Maynard suffered brain damage in the incident. McGee posted a photo of herself in a cervical collar on the way to the hospital, saying that she was "lucky to be alive." Snapchat has not commented on the lawsuit. http://abcn.ws/24nhR49
Pandora bleeding slows, posts $28.9M Q1 loss
Streaming music service Pandora today announced financial results for the first quarter of 2016, posting a loss of $28.9 million, an improvement from the $48.3 million loss it showed in the year-ago-quarter. Total consolidated revenue was $297.3 million, growing 29 percent year-over-year. Total listener hours grew 4 percent to 5.52 billion for the first quarter of 2016, compared to 5.30 billion for the same period of the prior year. Active listeners were 79.4 million at the end of the first quarter of 2016, up compared to 79.2 million for the same period of the prior year. http://pdora.co/1WtxdkW
Carl Icahn dumps Apple stock on China worries
Carl Icahn has sold all of his stock in Apple, citing concerns over sales in China. While he called Apple a "great company" and praised Tim Cook for "doing a great job," Icahn sold his shares after the Apple investor results, garnering a profit of $2 billion over three years. Icahn said of business in China that the Chinese government could "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there." Should the market steady in China, Icahn said that he will re-invest in the company, regardless of the market price. http://cnb.cx/1SCfEdI
August Home HomeKit compatible Smart Lock ships
Smart lock developer August Home today began shipping its second generation Smart Lock, with HomeKit support. In addition to full Siri support, the Smart Lock is also compatible with third-party HomeKit apps like Insteon+, Lutron, and iDevices, allowing for multi-step actuations, like turning on a light when the door is locked or unlocked. The August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled retails for $229. http://bit.ly/1SvADlG
Triby third-party speaker with Alexa Voice Service
Speaker and telecom device developer Invoxia has announced the Amazon Alexa Voice Service is now integrated and available on Triby, its device that combines music, messaging and communication functionality in one family-friendly, voice-activated product. Starting today, Triby becomes the first non-Amazon product to be Alexa-enabled. The Triby retails for $199, with a limited time $30 launch discount. http://amzn.to/1SC4zJG
EDGE shutdown plan on track for 2016 completion
AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stevens has reported that the company is continuing to migrate its customer base as it moves forward with plans to shut down its 2G EDGE network by the end of this year. According to Stevens, the carrier has already repurposed some of the 2G network spectrum in areas where 2G device traffic has dropped off. This incremental approach, he said, means some markets will only have small chunks of spectrum left that need to be repurposed. The freed bandwidth will be used to expand the 4G network. http://bit.ly/1Tyj7w9