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
Version 1.4 of the Android Wear app started rolling out late Friday. The theme of this update, at least for what's currently live, is a set of changes to the Settings screen. There are a couple of new options, but they come at the expense of the battery stats screen. A look under the hood also shows that a few other features are either live or in the works for the next Wear OS update. Read More
You've been able to tell Android to place calls by voice since time immemorial, but it has gotten a lot smarter over the years. Now, with OK Google commands, you can place a call without even touching the phone. It only makes sense you could activate the speakerphone in that situation, and indeed you can. At some point, Google added the ability to begin a call on speakerphone with only a voice command. Read More
Keeping a constant data connection is getting easier every day, whether we're in heavily populated areas or in the middle of nowhere. But there are still situations when we're bound to lose service, perhaps during a power outage or while driving through a dead zone. Just because you've lost access to Google's servers, it doesn't mean you should lose all of the powerful capabilities your phone has to offer. Google has just enabled a small set of voice commands for use even when you're completely offline.
If your phone was offline about a week ago and you tried a voice action, you probably would have seen a "Something went wrong" error message pop up just below the Google search box. Read More
One of the nice things about sending traditional SMS messages is the option not to type them. Using the Google app (or an Android Wear device), you can just say "OK Google, send a text to Mom: Look Ma, no hands!" You can do the same through Hangouts and email. The feature is a life saver while driving, when messages would otherwise go unanswered.
Now you're able to use third-party messengers as well. Google has announced support for WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, and NextPlus. Just say "send a Viber message" or "send a Telegram message" in place of text or email. Read More
Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.
If you've been drooling over Amazon's version of Google Now and Siri (or perhaps HAL-9000... in a good way), you can now buy it without an invitation. Starting today, the Echo is available in the United States for $179.99. That's $20 off of the original "retail" price, but $80 more than Amazon Prime customers have been paying after going through the invitation process. Those who purchase today will also have to wait a bit, since the Echo isn't shipping until July 14th.
The Echo is basically a physical implementation of Google Now that ties into Amazon's services instead. Users can speak "OK Echo" or "OK Alexa" (the device's anthropomorphized digital voice) and an omni-directional microphone will record voice commands. Read More
Part of using Amazon revolves around ordering cool new stuff, 80% of which probably consists of impulse buys. But for people who use the site for more mundane things—say, soap—the online retailer spends a good amount of time resending the same stuff. Those who happen to own an Amazon Echo can now use the cylindrical voice assistant to re-order supplies without having to pull out a phone or head to the nearest PC.
To get Echo to send you another shipment, just say something along the lines of, "Alexa, re-order toilet paper." It will search through your order history for the item and then place an order using your default payment information. Read More
Some bugs only cause problems for a select few users, but that was not the case when Google bungled the reminders voice command in a recent update to its back end. A lot of people noticed. Instead of setting a reminder when you asked for one, Google Search would set an alarm, which isn't really as useful. Now that appears to be fixed.
OK, Google, let's have a talk. No, not the two of us. I mean, let me talk to someone else, using you. I heard you're willing to let me send Hangouts messages without opening the app now.
OK, Google, let me start over. No, no, no, that wasn't a command. Ugh, OK.
Google, send a hangouts message. Read More