BestBuy has a sweet deal going on today. You can pick up a Phillips Hue A19 starter kit (3 bulbs plus a hub) and an Amazon Echo for $260.40. That's about $120 less than you would pay if you bought each item separately at full price. This a great combo for those of you wanting to add some tech to your home to make it a little smarter.
I own several Phillips Hue bulbs. I love being able to change the color and intensity of the lights to fit my activity and mood. Waking up to gradually increasing lights instead of an alarm has helped me tremendously in handling the dark Seattle winters.
Google recently renamed their Google Apps for Work service as 'G Suite,' which I still think sounds silly. However, the features Google announced today for all G Suite users are anything but.
Possibly the most important new feature is Action Items, which are Docs files assigned to a person or group of people. You can assign documents to others, which then appear on the recipient's main Drive screen with a special badge. Additionally, when you create a comment on the desktop site along the lines of "Phil to enter numbers for this week," Docs can figure out whom you are talking about and assign it to them automatically.
The Text-to-speech app doesn't see many major updates throughout the year, but when it does, there's often something interesting to see. Version 3.10 began rolling out yesterday and it comes bearing a pair of new settings to intelligently alter volume based on existing audio playback and to control the intonation of synthesized voices. As always, we've got a link below to grab the latest apk if you aren't among the first to get it straight from Google.
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.
It was almost a year ago that Google posted the session list for I/O 2015 with an interesting "voice access" talk. That was eventually removed from the schedule and we didn't hear anything about it in Android M. Now, Google has announced Voice Actions as a beta in the Play Store (Android 5.0 and higher). Once you join up, you can install the app and literally control your entire phone by voice. It's incredibly cool.
Google employees Natalie Hammeland Lorraine Yurshansky, who go by Nat & Lo for their series of informative Google tour videos, are at it again. This time the pair are demonstrating the recent improvements to Google's Text-To-Speech engine (TTS), which many of our readers have already experienced. Since synthesized, human-style voice functions are part of the biggest new trend in usability and gadgets, it's kind of a big deal.
Google's various flavors of voice control are neat, not to mention extremely useful thanks to deep integration with Android. But Mountain View doesn't have a monopoly on speech interpretation: Microsoft has made a pretty compelling case for its cross-platform Cortana system, to say nothing of the similar entries from Apple and Amazon. SoundHound threw its hat in the ring last year with the semi-proprietary Hound app, though you had to be part of the beta to check it out. Today Hound gets a public launch, and everyone can play with it with no prerequisites.
Google added voice typing to Docs last year, but it was fairly limited. Today, Google is rolling out more features to voice typing in Docs. You now have control over formatting like text selection, punctuation, and copy / paste. While this is not strictly Android, it's pretty close and we think it's cool.
It's pretty rare that we get to talk about Google's text-to-speech engine. Updates are fairly uncommon and most of them can be summarized as bug fixes and performance improvements. But every once in a while there's an update that brings a pretty cool new feature to this workhorse of an app. Version 3.8 adds one of the top requests to speech output: user selectable gender and voice variations for each language.
The official changelog has been posted for TTS v3.8. It mentions support for seven new languages, higher quality speech output, faster speech for offline voices, an updated Indian English voice, and the usual bug fixes and performance improvements.
Google has found ways of letting us send text messages, perform search queries, and launch apps using our voice. Some of this functionality has made its way over to the desktop, such as asking Google questions. Starting now, if you open a tab to Google Docs, you can also write out documents.