Alexa APIs allow developers access to Amazon voice recognition service
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 removes invitation requirement to purchase Echo
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 adds Audible audio support to Echo speaker
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.
Amazon Echo can read appointments stored in Google Calendar
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.
Prime subscribers can ask Alexa to re-order previously bought items
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 adds Prime Stations to Echo wireless speaker
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.
Alexa assistant can trigger commands in other apps via IFTTT
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.
Amazon Echo adds support for Hue, WeMo home automation systems
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.
Amazon adds iTunes, Spotify, Pandora music options to Echo
An update to the Amazon Echo has added more options for music playback. Recode reports the Internet-connected speaker now offers voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, when the Echo is paired with a device that has the required apps installed. Improved responsiveness, question accuracy, and more voice commands have also been touted for the device, which has yet to have a wider release outside of its invitation-only testing.
Echo speaker answers questions, plays music on command via voice recognition
Amazon has quietly launched a network-connected speaker with voice recognition. The Echo is a tall cylindrical speaker unit which can be used for music playback, but it also includes a seven-microphone array at the top for listening to voice commands, allowing users to give the device instructions to play music, ask questions, and set appointments.
Ceton Echo extender is now much smaller, more power efficient, priced at $179
Ceton has announced pricing and an approximate ship date for its Echo Windows Media Center Extender that was introduced earlier this year. The unit is much revised, however, with a body that's 72 percent smaller than the original, and now nearly the quarter of the size of the power adapter for the Xbox 360. It's also power efficient, rated at under 5 watts.
Kyocera offers 10,000 free game copies for Echo
Kyocera, in an attempt to boost sales of its dual-screen, Android-powered Echo smartphone, announced on Monday it has began offering 12 free premium games. Part of the company's 'Summer of Free Apps' campaign, the games normally range in price from $1 to $5. The first 10,000 downloads are free.
First update caused problems for users
Sprint has begun to release a second round ofGingerbread updates for Kyocera's Echo handset, after the first update, which arrived several weeks ago, had caused problems for many users. The company suspended the first rollout after a number of owners reported that the download had caused their phone to become inoperable.
Release matches earlier rumors
Confirming earlier rumors, Sprint has released an Android 2.3 update for the Kyocera Echo. The release, which steps up from Android 2.2 Froyo, brings the standard set of Gingerbread UI tweaks, along with the updated Swype 3.0 keyboard and an 'Eco Mode' utility that is claimed to help users manage battery life.
Kyocera Echo inline for Gingerbread update
The Kyocera Echo looks like it might be in line for an update to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) on August 1. Update 2.002SP is expected to land next Monday and move device from 2.2 (Froyo) to the latest build of Android for mobile phones. The update will also bring some Kyocera Echo specific treats including Swype 3.0.
KDDI, Kyocera show multi-layer haptic prototype
At the currently ongoing Wireless Japan show, major wireless provider KDDI showed off a prototype handset that uses multiple layers for haptic touch feedback. The so-called New Haptic Smartphone uses display technology from Kyocera, maker of smartphones such as the Echo. The prototype uses feedback for two haptic layers, but Kyocera assures the public its technology can support seven layers all over a screen's surface.
Sprint dates Kyocera Echo for April 17
Sprint today dated and priced the Kyocera Echo. Its one-off, dual-screen Android phone we tried ourselves should ship April 17, with pre-orders starting March 26. The device is still locked in for a $200 price on contract.
Sprint hints new smartphone on February 24
Sprint put out a teaser on Monday hinting at a mystery new phone. The company didn't give out clues but asked users to check back on Thursday, February 24. Devices like the Kyocera Echo aren't due to arrive until later.
Sprint adds 1.1m, says will survive Verizon iPhone
Sprint saw two rare milestones today even as it braced for the possible impact of the Verizon iPhone launch. The carrier added 1.1 million cellphone users, its highest additions since early 2006. Of those, it also saw its first gain in contract subscribers for the first time since spring 2007, adding 58,000 for the first time.
HTC Arrive, Kyocera Echo phones coming to Sprint?
Two new previously unheard of handsets are coming to Sprint, according to a Monday Engadget report. Other than the logos and names for the two, the HTC Arrive and Kyocera Echo, not much else is currently known. The HTC model is said to be powered by Windows Phone 7, however, and a trademark
registration at the USPTO confirms the upcoming availability of this phone; it may be the name for the 7 Pro slider.