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amazon

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'Halo Gray' Essential Phone now available for pre-order, includes Alexa and costs $450

Just yesterday, Essential announced three new colors for its flagship phone - Ocean Depths, Stellar Gray, and Copper Black. While the colors are appealing, the $599 price tag definitely isn't, especially when the first model has been as low as $300. Today, Essential announced another new color, with Alexa built-in.

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Echo and other Alexa speakers are now officially available in India

Last October, Amazon announced that its line-up of Echo speakers was coming to India, but only for those who requested an invite and got approved. Later in the month, the Echos started shipping to those who pre-ordered them and now the invite-only system is over and anyone can purchase an Echo or an Alexa speaker straight from Amazon.

There are 3 Echos to choose from and 2 Alexa speakers from other brands as well:

  • Amazon Echo (2nd gen) in black, grey, or white: ₹9,999 ($156 approx)
  • Amazon Echo Plus in black: ₹14,999 ($234)
  • Amazon Echo Dot in black or white: ₹4,499 ($70)
  • Harman Kardon Allure in black: ₹22,499 ($352)
  • Eufy Genie (still only by invitation):  ₹5,000 -> ₹3999 (momentarily discounted).
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Canary's Alexa skill is now live

Amazon's Alexa devices already have integration with several home security camera systems, and Canary is the latest. After announcing this feature in early 2018, it's now live. With a simple voice command, you can stream your Canary feed to a compatible Alexa display.

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Amazon is refunding Prime Exclusive phone ad removal fees


Amazon announced last week that it was removing the lock screen ads from its Prime Exclusive phones, but it was less keen to tell everyone it was also raising the price by $20. Amazon is at least getting one part of this transition right. It's notifying those who paid to remove those ads they'll get a refund.

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Amazon reportedly working on a custom chip to make Alexa faster

The smart speaker wars are in full swing, with Amazon and Google dominating most of the market. Amazon's Alexa assistant was first on the scene, but Google Assistant is making progress, particularly with the Home Mini and third-party speakers. According to a report from The Information, Amazon is working on its own AI chip designed to make Alexa-powered devices respond quicker.

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WSJ: Amazon to launch its own delivery service in Los Angeles with plans to expand it to other US cities later this year

Amazon is no stranger to dipping its toe in different stages of the shipping and delivery process. It already uses local couriers to make two-hour deliveries in select US cities, offers consumers the option to allow for in-home deliveries, and operates its own fleet of cargo jet planes and trucks. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Amazon plans to launch a delivery service of its own in Los Angeles in the coming weeks with plans for a wider rollout later this year.

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[Deal Alert] Grab RAVPower's 26,800mAh USB-C/PD portable charger from Amazon for $53.99 with coupon ($26 off)

I can speak from experience when I say having a portable charger is just fantastic. It alleviates battery anxiety when I'm on trips or on really long days, and with the increasing amount of USB-C devices in the world, the compatible mobile power banks are even more useful. That's why I think many of you will be interested in this deal over on Amazon. RAVPower's 26,800mAh battery is $53.99 with a coupon code, a respectable $26 off the $79.99 MSRP.

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[Deal Alert] Stupidly cheap Aukey car chargers: USB Type-C (QC 3.0) + 2x USB 4.8A for $7.40 ($12 off) and 2x USB 4.8A for $3.50 ($6 off) w/ coupon on Amazon

A lot of cars these days come with USB ports for charging built-in, but that isn't always the case. Even when a car does come with one, often it's a laughably low-amperage port that's barely able to trickle-charge our modern phones. Thankfully Aukey just discounted a bunch of its car chargers on Amazon. With a coupon code, you can pick up a 4.8A combined two-port charger for just $3.50, or a three-port charger with USB Type-C (QC 3.0) and two USB Type-A ports (4.8A combined) for only $7.40.

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Amazon's two-hour Prime Now delivery service now offers Whole Foods groceries in select cities

Since Amazon paid an eye-watering $13.7 billion for Whole Foods Market last summer, we knew we'd eventually see some integration of the luxury grocery chain's products into existing Prime services. It's taken a while to work out the details, but Amazon has just announced that Prime Now customers in select locations can now get Whole Foods items delivered within two hours.

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[Update: $20 price increase] Amazon is removing lock screen ads from Prime Exclusive phones

Amazon started selling devices with "Special Offers" years back with the e-ink Kindle, but that option came to Android with the "Prime Exclusive" phones. In exchange for a discounted smartphone, you got to see ads on your lock screen whenever you picked up the phone. It was annoying, sure, but many people were happy to take Amazon up on the offer. Now, Prime Exclusive phones are getting much more compelling with news that Amazon is removing the lock screen ads.

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