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AutoVoice 3.0 adds Google Home, Amazon Echo integration and natural language commands to Tasker

Fellow long time Tasker users will be familiar with João Dias and his awesome AutoApps plugins. One of his most popular, and the one that I use the most, is AutoVoice. Basically, the plugin listens to and hijacks Google Now commands to trigger Tasker profiles — I had a simple one that would turn on my PC via Wake On LAN when I said "Okay, Google. Turn on my computer." Now v3.0 has been officially released and brings some awesome Home, Echo, and IFTTT integrations as well as natural language commands.

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Amazon boasts 10,000 skills available for Alexa

Amazon's Alexa assistant has one major advantage over the Google Home (and other competing voice assistants) - the massive amount of third-party skills. Google has a similar developer platform for Assistant, Actions on Google, but the simple fact that Alexa has been around longer means it has a more sizable collection of abilities.

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Amazon's newest Fire TV Stick available for pre-order in the UK, Germany, and Japan

Back in September of last year, Amazon released a new model of its Chromecast competitor, the Fire TV Stick. The $39.99 dongle is a major upgrade from the previous model, with better performance and Wi-Fi capabilities. Now Amazon is selling it in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan.

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Amazon enters the meeting, video call, and messenger space with Chime

Conference calls and video meetings have almost been synonymous with Skype for the longest time, but Amazon is looking at changing that. Chime, a new Amazon Web Services platform, wants to simplify communications between teams and individuals and cater to their different aspects in one app: video call, voice call, chat, and screen sharing.

Chime is now available on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. According to Amazon, the service was built from the ground up with mobile in mind, so the apps work well on phones and let users seamlessly transition from and to their desktops. There are a few other advantages to Chime, like the lack of any long pins (meetings ring up like a phone call), quick options to get out of a meeting or let others know you're running late, a view of all participants and their current status, the possibility to mute one specific person's microphone if there's too much ambient noise around them, and the ability for anyone to share their screen without too much hassle.

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Amazon Tap firmware update enables Echo-style hands free voice commands

Here's an interesting example of a product getting better with age. The Amazon Tap speaker was introduced as a mobile, battery-powered alternative to the Echo, with access to the same Alexa voice commands, but limited in that it could only accept said commands with a button press. This made the less-expensive Tap, while interesting, not all that much better than a smartphone for voice searches. But the latest firmware update from Amazon enables hands-free Alexa commands, like the Echo and Google's Assistant on the Google Home. Talk about a value add.

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Alexa Voice Service now available in UK and Germany, new version of Logitech ZeroMount to celebrate

Alexa Voice Service (AVS) has been available in the United States for sometime now, but today Amazon is expanding the availability to UK and German developers, while also announcing a new version of Logitech's ZeroMount smartphone car holder.

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Plex gets Alexa support for the ultimate home theater experience

Plex is simply awesome. I have been using the media server in some form or another for years and the Lifetime Pass sales are always extremely tempting. So when the service gets a new feature or addition, I pay attention. In this case, Amazon's personal assistant and Plex are coming together via a new Alexa skill.

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Alexa adds "Computer" as a wake word, much to the joy of Star Trek fans everywhere

Amazon's Alexa assistant supports multiple 'wake words,' which serve as activation phrases for Alexa to start listening. Until now, this included "Alexa," "Amazon," and "Echo." Now Amazon has silently added "Computer" as a wake word, something that is sure to please Star Trek fans everywhere.

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Amazon app adds virtual Dash buttons for slightly faster Prime ordering

The hook for Amazon's physical Dash buttons is an easy thing to understand: hide little Wi-Fi connected buttons around your house, then press them when you're low on toilet paper in the bathroom, or dishwasher detergent in the kitchen, or imported all-natural small batch coconut oil in the bedroom, and the relevant product will automatically be bought via your Amazon account and shipped out in a couple of days. Now Amazon has made virtual Dash buttons for its website and shopping apps... so you can shop for stuff while you shop for stuff, I guess?

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Amazon is price-gouging Pixel XL buyers to the tune of over $1,500

The Pixel is a great phone, and as such, a lot of people want it. Although, Google seems to be dropping the ball with regard to making that possible. The Google Store is constantly sold out of the Pixel XL (and sometimes even the regular one), and this has led to price inflation. It's not unusual to see Amazon marketplace sellers listing items for well over MSRP when they're hard to come by, but this is Amazon asking $1,500 for a Pixel XL.

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