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. Read More
A good review can make all the difference when deciding on an app. But a review is only as good as it is relevant, so Amazon is tweaking the way the Appstore displays them.
The Appstore will start showing reviews that are specific to your device and version number. 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 really wants people to use voice command to buy stuff. So much so that the new Echo Dot, the smaller, cheaper version of the Amazon Echo that can use an existing speaker can only be bought through voice commands, specifically on an existing Amazon Echo unit or through Amazon's Fire TV platform. At least, that's what the launch announcement says. It turns out you can get one through the Amazon Android storefront app just as easily, no extra hardware required (though you do need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber). Here we go:
1. Download and install the Amazon Shopping app on an Android phone or tablet. Read More
You might have heard that Amazon disabled the option for software encryption in the latest version of its Android-based Fire OS for the Kindle Fire series of tablets. (This isn't new - Fire OS 5 has been rolling out to various tablets since last year.) And if you read news that isn't Android Police, you probably also know that it's not the biggest story involving encryption right now. After consumer backlash following the Apple-FBI encryption case, Engadget reports that Amazon says it will return software encryption in the next major update.
Customers might have had something to say about the loss of encryption capabilities even without the highly public spat between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino iPhone case. 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
We interrupt your morning (it's morning here in Seattle at least) to bring you an important public service announcement. If you live in the UK or Ireland and own one of Amazon's affordable 7in tablets, then you need to request a new charger. Amazon has noted that a small quantity of the chargers bundled with these devices have had their housing detach when being removed from the wall, creating a risk of electric shock (no, they are not a fire hazard).
The recall applies to all Fire 7 and Fire 7 Kid's Edition tablets sold in the UK and Ireland since September 2015. Read More
Fire OS 5 is the latest release of Amazon's customized version of Android. As is tradition for the company's products, this firmware upgrade bumps devices up to being only one major version out of date. Instead of Marshmallow, Amazon's Fire gadgets are making their way up to Android 5.1.
Amazon has started pushing out Fire OS 5 to the 1st generation Fire TV and Fire TV stick. The 2nd gen hardware, which was already running 5.0.4, is also getting a boost. After the latest round of updates, all four gadgets should be left at 5.0.5. Read More
Amazon's tablet offerings have gone from rather uninteresting to impressive in the last few years. All they had to do was make them really, really, cheap. Last year's Fire HD 6 is on sale today, making it even cheaper than usual. It's selling for $69.99 today, down from the usual price of $100. Read More