Lately I've been looking at security cameras for homes and small businesses. Among the different options, Blink makes a very compelling proposal. Forget about wires and always-on connectivity, forget about monthly plans and limited server storage, the system works wire-free, hassle-free, and well, completely free after the hardware purchase. You just need to put in 2 AA batteries and they'll last up to 2 years, getting triggered only when motion is detected and uploading 5-10sec clips to the cloud.
The one problem with Blink though? Until today, it didn't integrate with any other smart home product. That summarizes most of the complaints on its online reviews: users say that you have to manually arm/disarm each camera separately in the app. Read More
Echo! Echo! Echo! This sound reverberated around the UK and Germany (sorry, Germans, I'm unsure what 'echo' is in German) as Amazon announced it would be releasing its Echo speaker in the two countries this fall, along with a new white model that will also be coming to the US.
For the UK release, Alexa has some new skills, partnering with world-renowned cook and school dinner ruiner Jamie Oliver, Sky Sports, National Rail, The Telegraph, The Guardian, the BBC, Uber, and Spotify. Want to know the train times for your trip? Ask Alexa, she'll tell you. Want a fantastic recipe for your hot date? Read More
Here's something interesting for those of you who've gone head-first into the smart home craze. According to ZatsNotFunny, a blog dedicated to connected home tech, Logitech is recruiting beta testers for a new tool integrating Harmony remotes with the voice control features of Amazon Alexa/Echo. Basically, users who have both should be able to speak commands into their Echo and have the remote perform them without ever picking it up. Neat. Read More
Amazon's second generation of Alexa-enabled gadgets is ready to go. The Amazon Tap, a smaller, battery-powered version of the Amazon Echo, as well as the Echo Dot, which can use external speakers for its primary function, should both be heading out to those who purchased them after their recent announcement. The latter is only available to Amazon Prime members who order using Amazon's voice service, with a Kindle Fire tablet or Fire TV. The Tap, along with its cover accessories, are both labelled as "in stock" on Amazon's US storefront.
Both devices represent an expansion of Amazon's Alexa voice command platform, which is itself a competitor to services like Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. Read More
Amazon's little black cylinder likes for you to call it Alexa, and when you do, it's willing to do whatever you say. Well, whatever it can understand, anyway. And one thing it understands is how to adjust volume and pause media after you say its name. This includes the ability to mute and unmute. Pausing, naturally, would be useless without the option to play. Read More
Amazon launched the Echo a while back as the first device with its Alexa voice control system. Now there are two more, each with a different take on the Echo's functionality at a lower price. The Echo Dot is a small connected speaker/mic that can add smarts to your existing speakers, and the Amazon Tap is a portable Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa voice commands. Read More
Amazon Echo (her friends call here Alexa) has been steadily improving since it launched a little over a year ago. Starting today, this little electronic monolith has a new trick up its sleeve: it can now play music directly from Spotify.
Playing music on Echo isn't exactly new: owners can already stream from services like Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn. On top of that, Echo has always been able to play audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device. However, official Spotify support gives users a lot more control over their listening experience than having to manually manage everything (a common first-world problem). Read More
Amazon's goal for Echo is to make the little plastic cylinder, and the lady named Alexa who lives inside it, an integral part of your home. Give Alexa commands and she responds either with information you would have to look up yourself or turn on things that would require you getting up and walking across the room.
Your Google Calendar is one of the things Alexa knows how to read. But now, she can also read shared ones too. Read More
The Echo is Amazon's little smart tube that perks up whenever you say "Alexa" and proceeds to do whatever you say. Well, as long as what you say is something it has the capability to do. If you have a house filled with Wink-compatible products, that list now includes telling Echo to take control of your home.
Try, "Alexa, turn off the fan" or "Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights." Then watch as you never burn calories getting up to flip switches yourself.
By connecting Echo to your Wink Hub, you can use your voice to control a range of supported devices. Read More
Amazon probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of innovative gadgets. Not anymore, anyway. Hearing a company is producing a ho-hum smartphone based on Android isn't nearly as exciting as hearing about the Kindle for the first time. But with the Echo, the online retailer does have a cool piece of tech on its hands.
The Echo, which recently became available for general purchase in the US, is essentially what you get when you stick Google Now or Siri into a plastic tube. While that may not sound all that creative, delivery is everything. Saying OK Alexa (the name of the persona inside the device) out in the middle of the kitchen and having the product pick up from another room is rather impressive, especially when you just want to fire up some background music or search for a recipe. Read More