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[Deal Alert] Order an Amazon gift card valued at $25 or more through Alexa and get a $5 promo credit

I love getting "free" money, so if you're like me and have an Alexa-enabled device, this promotion is for you. If you order an Amazon gift card valued at $25 or more by April 16, and you do so through Alexa, you will receive a $5 credit by email to be applied to your next order. That's not too bad.

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Amazon to acquire Middle East online commerce site SOUQ.com

The news has been abuzz for a couple of days in the Middle Eastern region, but it has now been made official, press release and all: Amazon has reached an agreement to acquire SOUQ.com.

For those of you who don't live in the Middle East and haven't heard of SOUQ (which means "market" in Arabic), you can think of it as India's Flipkart maybe or well, Amazon, but serving a few local countries in the region: UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and also shipping to Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. It has made a name for itself as one of the leading online retailers for shopping for clothes, electronics, beauty products, home items, sports equipment, baby products, and more.

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Moto G5 Plus and Alcatel A30 join Amazon's ad-toting Prime Exclusive line for $184.99 and $59.99, respectively

In late June of last year, Amazon introduced its Prime Exclusive program, which offered unlocked phones to Prime members at a discount in exchange for a few Amazon apps and ads on them. It was a rather intriguing concept, and it's proven to be a success. David even used a BLU R1 HD in $60 Prime Exclusive guise for a month to see how a smartphone that cheap would fare. Now, Amazon is releasing another $60 Prime Exclusive phone in the form of the Alcatel A30, as well as the not-$60 Moto G5 Plus.

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Amazon is giving developers with live Alexa skills $100 in AWS promo credits for usage charges

Amazon is throwing some developers a bone with a promotional credit on AWS for Alexa skills to help cover any incurred usage charges. Most of them use the free tier, but some do end up exceeding those limits and incur charges. Any that do can apply for a $100 promotional credit to help cover those costs.

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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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