Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon. Read More
If you've been drooling over Amazon's version of Google Now and Siri (or perhaps HAL-9000... in a good way), you can now buy it without an invitation. Starting today, the Echo is available in the United States for $179.99. That's $20 off of the original "retail" price, but $80 more than Amazon Prime customers have been paying after going through the invitation process. Those who purchase today will also have to wait a bit, since the Echo isn't shipping until July 14th. Read More
Part of using Amazon revolves around ordering cool new stuff, 80% of which probably consists of impulse buys. But for people who use the site for more mundane things—say, soap—the online retailer spends a good amount of time resending the same stuff. Those who happen to own an Amazon Echo can now use the cylindrical voice assistant to re-order supplies without having to pull out a phone or head to the nearest PC. Read More
Some bugs only cause problems for a select few users, but that was not the case when Google bungled the reminders voice command in a recent update to its back end. A lot of people noticed. Instead of setting a reminder when you asked for one, Google Search would set an alarm, which isn't really as useful. Now that appears to be fixed.
OK, Google, let's have a talk. No, not the two of us. I mean, let me talk to someone else, using you. I heard you're willing to let me send Hangouts messages without opening the app now.
OK, Google, let me start over. No, no, no, that wasn't a command. Ugh, OK.
Google, send a hangouts message. Read More
Back in 2014, one of the changes spotted in Google Search was support for settings toggles through voice commands. At the time, the feature wasn't complete — it merely gave you a shortcut to open the corresponding settings panel. That wasn't helpful at all, since you had to use your fingers to make the change, which would have been done much faster through the drop-down quick settings. In Lollipop, starting with 5.0, some of these toggles work as they are supposed to, through voice commands alone and without the need for some third-party hack like Commandr. Read More
Today Amazon unveiled what may be its most peculiar hardware to date, and it's not what you would expect. It's... wait, did you hear that?
Sorry, it was just an Echo.
Amazon Echo is a cylindrical speaker that responds to your voice commands. If you want music, tell it what to play. If you want to know the weather, ask it the question. It can handle alarms, pull up information from Wikipedia, or update you on the news. Read More
If you practically live out of your car like I do, there are probably cables loosely hanging from just about every outlet, and at least a couple awkwardly laying across the passenger seat. Even if you're not sporting a ride with a Bluetooth-enabled stereo, you can get rid of at least one cable by adding your own car kit to the mix. You could already get the GOgroove SMARTmini AUX Bluetooth Audio Receiver Car Kit for just $24.99 from Amazon, but now you can also knock another $5 off with a coupon code at checkout. Read More
IR ports are becoming a thing again with flagship devices from Samsung and HTC now commonly sporting them. They aren't used for terribly slow data transfers like back in the old days, but for controlling TVs and stuff. The built-in apps on the phones are okay, but Smart IR Remote is in a league of its own, and now it's added voice commands through Google Now. Take a gander at this video and be impressed. Read More
In the future, people will not only be surrounded by gadgets, they will be able to control everything by speaking. In this distant time roughly six or seven years from now, the basic voice commands we've grown accustomed to thus far will look like adorable relics of a bygone era. It looks like it may already be possible to get a taste of this promising way of life by configuring the latest version of AutoVoice. Read More