Tag - Echo
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.
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.
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Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive, Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl