Late last year, Amazon started to allow hobbyists and developers to integrate the Alexa virtual personal assistant into their own products through the developer preview of Amazon Voice Service. This effort has already borne fruit with Invoxia's Triby.
Looking a bit like an FM radio from yesteryear, the Triby immediately loses points in the looks department, especially when compared to the sleek, futuristic aesthetic of the Amazon Echo. It packs a magnetized back, allowing you to attach it directly to any metal surface, such as a refrigerator or knife rack, as well an E-Ink display for showing messages and notifications.
Not only can it be controlled through voice commands, but there's also an official companion application available for Android and iOS.
Here's a bit of a blast from the past. A federal judge has decided that Amazon was in the wrong when it billed parents for in-app purchases made by their kids on its Appstore platform. Both Apple and Google settled this case with the Federal Trade Commission two years ago, but Amazon wanted its day in court. It didn't go so well.
Amazon Fire tablets are not devices geared towards stock Android-loving enthusiasts with an unquenchable thirst for whatever they can get from Google Play. They're more casual devices aimed at people who enjoy a simpler experience and Amazon services. New models are also very cheap—buy six for $250 cheap. The 8GB 7-inch tablet starts at $49.99.
At this point asking people to support your crowd-funded concept device is kind of like asking them to support your "sure-fire multi-level marketing system." Sure, it could be legitimate, but it's better to just treat that money as if it's gone forever. That said, smartwatches might be the one exception. Pebble, arguably the legitimate dark horse in that small market and one of the first to successfully market itself, got started on Kickstarter. So maybe it wouldn't be fair to dismiss the CoWatch, a new smartwatch that features interoperability with Amazon's Alexa voice control system, out of hand.
Sometimes you can't stomach the idea of paying a big yearly subscription price upfront, either because it feels like a big expense or because you're not ready to commit for a full year to a service that you're not sure you'll enjoy in a couple of months. That's why, despite having to pay a little bit more, companies offer a monthly subscription to make it easier for users to pay in small increments and feel like they are free to walk away anytime they want.
Amazon's Prime subscription used to be a yearly affair: pay $99 and get all the services for 12 months straight.
Ever since Amazon announced the Echo, the platform and Alexa's voice commands have been expanding and adding more partners and features. They haven't, however, gained the magical ability to control your house's manual window blinds. It has though become possible to connect Alexa to an Arduino board, which increases the potential uses for the platform.
An enterprising guy has used that to his advantage, MacGyvering his way into smart window blinds with an Arduino (he uses a SmartThings shield for his Arduino to connect it to the rest of his smart home system), a servo, and some lasercut gears. He details the whole process, which I'll be honest in saying I don't understand the first thing about, in an Imgur post that I'll link below.
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.
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.