Amazon and Google are the proverbial rulers of the personal assistant/speaker space. The Home is rapidly catching up in terms of integrations and its featureset, but the Echo family still has quite the lead in some areas. One of those is the different price tiers, with the entry-level Dot representing the best value in this arena. But now, you can get it for even cheaper; the second-generation Echo Dot is currently $39.99, which is a savings of $10. Read More
What's the point of having smart home devices if you can't control them with your preferred voice interface? Ikea's Trådfri lights are a little cheaper than Phillips Hue, but they don't work with Assistant right now. That's going to change soon, though. Now if only you could pronounce it. Read More
We might have previously thought that it was an April Fools' joke, given the timing, but Amazon's Echo Look is quite real. The device, with its camera and fancy machine learning skills, is meant to add some fashion sense to Amazon's personal assistant. It is able to judge contemporary styling between a pair of outfits and even allows you to save your favorites. Today Amazon released the companion app for the Echo Look on Android, so now users of our favorite operating system can see on their phone which headband went better with that Blue Steel look. Read More
Google's speech recognition error rate is getting lower and lower - yesterday, the company said it's now under 5% and has dropped from 8.5% this time last year. And I find that to be more and more the case in my own use: Google seems to recognize almost everything I throw at it now, even when I add Lebanese/Arabic names from my contacts list that I wouldn't expect it to get right.
But if you're wondering how Google's speech recognition fares in comparison to other voice assistants, Wired has made a video in conjunction with Andy Wood and Matt Kirshen (from Probably Science) to show you just that. Read More
One of my main problems with 'smart' assistants is that they aren't great at delivering information. Yes, you can ask "will there be storms," but having your Echo or Google Home proactively inform you about dangerous weather would be far more useful.
Amazon today announced that it is working on notification support for Alexa, which will allow skills to send notifications to the user (if allowed). Read More
My Google Home isn't the best at figuring out if me (or someone else) actually says "Hey Google" or "OK Google." Sometimes I'll be watching a video where no one says anything remotely similar to those phrases, and the lights on my Home flip on. But I have noticed that most of the time, the lights turn off a split-second later, as the Home actually realizes that no one called for it (presumably once the voice clip is processed by Google's servers).
Amazon appears to be giving Alexa a similar ability, with the introduction of 'Cloud-based wake word verification.' Read More
Amazon's Alexa assistant is currently only talking to you, but you will soon be able to have Alexa reach out and touch someone else. Amazon is adding voice calling and messaging to its Alexa devices, which will most likely be available in time for the launch of the Echo Show on June 28th. This won't be connected to your phone number—it's a completely separate way of making and accepting voice calls. Read More
Lately, we've seen the Ecobee3 smart thermostat go on sale a few times, and now it seems obvious why. Ecobee has announced its new smart thermostat, fittingly named the ecobee4. This time around, the thermostat has Alexa built-in, so you can talk to it to change the temperature (or do anything else Alexa can do). Read More
We posted about the price cut the Ecobee3 saw just a week ago over at Amazon, but it looks like things have dropped a bit further since then. Now the Ecobee3 is just $176.16, and that's still shipped and sold by Amazon, not a third-party. Read More
Amazon is definitely one of the lead players when it comes to voice assistants. The company's newest Echo speaker, the Echo Look, is... different. Instead of your usual speaker with a voice assistant, the Echo Look is specifically designed for taking pictures of your outfit. No, this isn't April Fools. Read More