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amazon alexa


Out of Milk, the popular shopping list app, just added support for Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant

There are a lot of shopping list apps out there, and that's an understatement. Back in the early days of app development, shopping lists were one of the most popular simple projects, and even now people learning the ropes typically toss one together. But Out of Milk has stood the test of time for the last seven years. And now managing your shopping list is getting just a bit more convenient via the new Out of Milk voice assistant, which works with both Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant.

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Lenovo Home Assistant Pack transforms the Tab 4 into an Alexa speaker of sorts... nothing to do with Google Home or Assistant

Oh Lenovo, Lenovo, Lenovo. I don't wish unemployment on anyone, but I think it's time you fired your product naming and branding team. After the massive headache of the new Moto names, now comes this "Home Assistant Pack" that, unlike what you might think, has nothing to do with Google Home or Google Assistant, but as a matter of fact, works with its competitor voice service, Amazon Alexa. Was "Alexa Thingamajig Pack" taken by another company?

I digress... no wait, I can't. I really can't get over the fact that Lenovo chose two brands that are mostly associated with Google to launch an Alexa product.

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Bragi's The Dash and The Dash Pro will get Amazon Alexa support in October

Completely wireless earbuds are everywhere at IFA this year, and so is the voice assistant war. While Google Assistant is busy getting its foothold into many speakers, Alexa is expanding into headphones and earbuds and the latest to join its rank is Bragi's The Dash series.

Both The Dash and the newer The Dash Pro will get a software update in October to Bragi OS 3.1 that will enable Alexa integration. You'll also need to update your Bragi app on Android (or iOS) and link an Amazon account obviously, so that The Dash knows which credentials to use. Once that's done, you can use The Dash's gestures and movement sensors to trigger Alexa, either by a "tap of the cheek" or a "nod of the head." The former seems a little ridiculous and the latter could be falsely triggered during vigorous exercise, so I hope The Dash's sensitivity has been more appropriately tuned for these.

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Facebook is testing a standalone video chat device, could be running Android

According to a report from Bloomberg, Facebook is building a video calling device for the home, in what is essentially a new product category. It apparently has a laptop-sized screen and smart camera technology that gives users the impression of being in the same room as one another.

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Ecobee4 with integrated Alexa available for purchase for $249

Earlier this month, we told you that ecobee4 pre-orders had begun. Now, the wait is over and Ecobee has announced that its Alexa-enabled thermostat is in stock.

Like the ecobee3, the ecobee4 incorporates room sensors you can place throughout your home that will report temperature and occupancy information to fine tune the efficiency of your HVAC system. The Ecobee app is still a fully functional remote interface for the thermostat allowing you to control it from anywhere in the world. However, the star of the ecobee4 is its Alexa voice service integration. This isn't just a stripped-down version of Alexa that only accepts heating and cooling requests.

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Alexa will support notifications in an upcoming update

One of my main problems with 'smart' assistants is that they aren't great at delivering information. Yes, you can ask "will there be storms," but having your Echo or Google Home proactively inform you about dangerous weather would be far more useful.

Amazon today announced that it is working on notification support for Alexa, which will allow skills to send notifications to the user (if allowed).

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[Deal Alert] Get a Triby portable speaker with Amazon Alexa for $69.99 on Woot! (65% off)

There are more and more Alexa-powered speakers available but affordable ones are still a little difficult to find. The Echo Dot remains one of the best options at $49.99, but it constantly requires a power source. You could grab a portable charger for it, but if you don't want to spend money on a make-do solution, today's deal on the Triby might seem much more interesting.

Triby is a portable speaker with voice-activated Amazon Alexa integration. It is charged via MicroUSB and lasts up to 2 days, so you can move it along with you from the kitchen to the bedroom to the balcony and not worry about power cords.

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iRobot's Roomba robot vacuum adds Clean Map reports and promises Alexa integration

I've been eying the iRobot Roombas for over a year now. The idea of a robot vacuum gliding around my apartment and cleaning up while I'm not around sounds all too appealing and nerdy. And because I'm into connected gadgets, I sure want one of the newer Series 900 robots, which would set me back somewhere between 7 and 9 Franklins. Ouch. If you're lucky enough to have that kind of dough to spend on a Roomba, your robot is about to get cooler in the geekiest kind of way: maps and stats. Oh and Alexa.

iRobot is announcing new Clean Map reports for your Roomba 900 series that will show you a map of your house and the spots that were cleaned, along with graphs for the total cleaning time and coverage over the last 30 jobs plus some lifetime stats.

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WSJ report: Google and Amazon are hoping to make Home and Alexa into home phones

Quite a lot of us have done away with the landline telephones that used to be a staple of homes in the developed world. A 2013 survey concluded that over 40% of US households had ditched their standard landlines phones, driven by younger users relying exclusively on their cell phones. But according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, both Google and Amazon are looking to revive the landline (well, VOIP line anyway) as a bonus feature in their voice-controlled Wi-Fi speakers, the Google Home and Amazon Echo/Tap/Echo Dot.

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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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