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echo

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[Deal Alert] Get a refurbished Echo speaker for $89.99 ($75 off) on Amazon

Amazon's Prime Day is almost upon us, but the company has been rolling out a few early deals over the past week or so. Some of Amazon's services were discounted, and a refurbished Echo Dot showed up for $29.99. In a similar vein, you can now buy a refurbished Echo speaker for $89.99. That's $75 off the usual price for refurb units, and $90 off the price of a new Echo.

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[Deal Alert] Refurbished Echo Dot is down to $29.99 ($15 off) on Amazon Prime, early Prime Day deals available for Alexa users

Amazon is preparing for its 'Prime Day, which arrives July 11 with major site-wide discounts in tow. It's like the Steam Summer Sale, except you buy real physical objects instead of games you'll never get around to playing. Amazon has made a few deals live early for Prime users, and dropped the price of the refurbished Echo Dot to just $29.99.

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[Update: App updated] Amazon's Echo devices now double as in-house intercoms

With Amazon enabling voice calling and messaging on its Echo line-up, the rumor of the Echo also gaining intercom ability that had circulated back in March was bound to come true sooner than later. And it's now here so all of you multi-Echo households can start, erm, echoing each other from room to room.

In the latest Amazon Alexa app (v2.0.1216.2), you can enable the option by turning on Drop In from your household in your Echo's settings and making sure your device has a friendly name so that people in other rooms can easily specify which Echo they want to contact you on.

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[Deal Alert] Get an Amazon Echo for $130 ($50 off)

Amazon struck gold with the Echo. The speaker/personal assistant has grown significantly since its birth, with only the Google Home to compete with. If you've been itching to get your hands on an Echo, you can get one from either Amazon or Best Buy for $129.99, a savings of $50.

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Amazon's Alexa updated to block contacts from calling or messaging you

Since Alexa was updated to support voice calls and messaging, the common complaint has been that one can't block communications. There was no whitelist or blacklist so anyone with the app and your phone number would be able to call your device and force you to listen to their message. Even if a number were blocked on your phone, it would still ring your Echo. Well as of today that's no longer a problem. The Alexa app has now been updated to fix the privacy omission. You can now block contacts.

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Funny video: 8 accents are tested on Google Home, Alexa, and Siri with 4 different questions

 

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.

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Alexa will support notifications in an upcoming update

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).

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Amazon is adding voice calling and messaging to Alexa

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.

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Amazon's Echo Show is official, will be available June 28 for $229.99

We first caught a glimpse at an upcoming touchscreen Echo speaker a few days ago, when the first image was leaked. Now the speaker is officially real, and you can pre-order it now for $229.99 (or $359.98 for two).

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Amazon's new touchscreen Echo device has been leaked

Although the Alexa voice assistant is a popular choice for smart speakers like Amazon's own Echo line, we've seen plenty of devices with screens running it too. For example, the Huawei Mate 9 was updated to include Alexa not too long ago. According to AFTVnews and Evan Blass (aka @evleaks), Amazon is working on a touchscreen Echo device.

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