Amazon struck gold with the Echo. The speaker/personal assistant has grown significantly since its birth, with only the Google Home to compete with. If you've been itching to get your hands on an Echo, you can get one from either Amazon or Best Buy for $129.99, a savings of $50. Read More
Android co-founder Andy Rubin finally unveiled Essential's much-anticipated new phone today, the almost bezel-less PH-1. In an industry besieged by leaks, it's rare for any device to be launched these days without knowing exactly what it'll look like. Not only did Essential manage to keep the PH-1 pretty much a secret, except for the teaser images they released themselves, they also manage to complete conceal the fact that they would be announcing another full-fledged product at the same time. Much to everyone's surprise, we've now been introduced to Essential Home, the company's smart assistant competitor. Read More
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. Read More
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). Read More
Although the Alexa voice assistant is a popular choice for smart speakers like Amazon's own Echo line, we've seen plenty of devices with screens running it too. For example, the Huawei Mate 9 was updated to include Alexa not too long ago. According to AFTVnews and Evan Blass (aka @evleaks), Amazon is working on a touchscreen Echo device. Read More
Amazon is definitely one of the lead players when it comes to voice assistants. The company's newest Echo speaker, the Echo Look, is... different. Instead of your usual speaker with a voice assistant, the Echo Look is specifically designed for taking pictures of your outfit. No, this isn't April Fools. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More