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Amazon's Alexa Has Over 1,000 Skills, But Discoverability And Quality Remain Issues

Amazon's Echo has become the de-facto standard of home voice control, at least until Google Home is released and we find out whatever Apple is planning. To emphasise Amazon's market-leading position, the company has published a press release saying Alexa has over 1,000 skills and integrations - we counted roughly 1,150 (115 pages with 10 items on each page). For such a young platform, this is mightily good news, and says wonders about the battleground that the home will be for technology companies in the future.

Screenshot_20160603-102403 Screenshot_20160603-102543

Left: the skills list, showing the filters and sorting options. Right: some other skills that are installable on the Echo.

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Amazon Releases A 64GB Version Of The Fire 10 HD Tablet With A New Aluminum Body For $290

Depending on who you ask, Amazon's Fire series might just be the most popular Android tablets on the planet. They're certainly up there, thanks to an extremely low entry price and some pretty decent media tie-ins with Amazon's various platforms, the lack of Google Play access notwithstanding. The value at the high end of the range isn't bad either, and Amazon just made it a little better: the big daddy Fire 10 HD now has a 64GB option, and it's available for under $300.

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[Deal Alert] Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition On Sale For $269 ($130 Off) In Today's Amazon Goldbox

Asus just announced new ZenFones, but the ZenFone 2 isn't a bad device—especially if you're talking about the ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition. It has the most storage, RAM, and the fastest hardware of any ZF2 variant, and it's on sale today as part of Amazon's Goldbox deal. It usually costs $399, which is not an amount you should pay, but right now it can be yours for just $269.

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Amazon's Echosim Simulates Echo Devices In The Browser, Allows Everyone To Put Alexa To The Test

Community projects are fantastic - just look at how strong Android's aftermarket community is, creating custom ROMs and launching entire operating systems and companies in the process. Now Amazon's getting in on the action, rebranding developer Sam Machin's Alexa in the Browser project as Echosim and bringing Alexa to everyone in the process.

Echosim is a way to use an Amazon Echo directly in your browser. Built with JavaScript, it gives anyone the chance to question Alexa and experience the Echo platform without actually owning a device. This is all the more important in countries where the voice-enabled cylinders are not available, such as the UK, where I live.

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[Deal Alert] ZeroLemon 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub On Sale For $25 (50% Off) Via Amazon With Coupon Code

Your computer has a few USB ports, sure, but is that enough? Maybe you need more USB ports than any sane person should be using. Perhaps, you need ten more USB 3.0 ports on your computer. Well, the ZeroLemon 10-port hub offers that, but it's usually $50. Today, it's only half that much if you use the coupon code below.

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Amazon Fire TV Devices Updated To Version 5.2 With Viewing Restrictions And New Alexa Features

Amazon has announced that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, the company's two streaming devices, are receiving updates to the latest version of the software, 5.2.

The main thing version 5.2 brings is viewing restrictions, which enable blocking of content in Amazon Video and 'selected third party apps,' although Amazon has declined to list which third-party apps are included. Other new features include Watch Live for video subscriptions, so if you have an add-on subscription from Showtime or Starz, content can be watched at the same time as it's broadcast. Alexa is also seeing some improvements; she can now be asked for local restaurant, shop, or business information with the new Local Search feature.

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[Update: $93] [Deal Alert] JayBird X2 Sport Bluetooth Headphones Are As Low As $99 ($50 Off) On Amazon

JayBird makes some of the best sport-focused Bluetooth headphones around, but they don't make them cheap. The X2 Sport model is normally $150 at retail, but Amazon has several different colors of them on sale today. The white version, and only the white version, is just $99 with free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers. The other colors are going for between $109 (black) and $134 (red), which is still a decent discount.

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[Update: Down To $24.90 Until 1AM ET] [Deal Alert] Silicon Power 128GB MicroSD Card Drops To All-Time Low Price Of $29.95

Storage is always getting cheaper thanks to the unstoppable march of technology. That's particularly apparent in the prices of microSD cards, which are more affordable than ever. I remember once paying $100 for a 1GB SD card, but that was many years ago. Today, you can get the Silicon Power 128GB microSD card for $29.95.

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NYT: Google To Announce Alexa Competitor Called 'Google Home' At I/O

Google I/O is just hours away, and we're expecting all sorts of wonderful things to be announced. For example, the rumored competitor to Amazon's Alexa known internally Project Chirp. The New York Times is now reporting that Chirp will be called Google Home when it is unveiled.

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Amazon Adds New Alexa Voice Features To Fire TV

Voice control is all the rage these days, and Amazon is pushing its Alexa voice engine hard. The Fire TV already had Alexa built-in, but today it's getting some new features. You can control video playback, launch apps, and more.

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