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Alexa and Amazon's new Echo devices come to India by invitation, Japan following later this year

Amid all the Google fuss yesterday, we nearly missed the news that Amazon was paving Alexa's way to Asia by launching in India first, with Japan said to be following later this year.

The new second-gen Echo, the Echo Plus, and the Echo Dot will be available exclusively on Amazon.in by invitation, so you'll need to request one and hope for the best. If you decide to grab one, expect shipping to begin on the week of October 30. And if you want to wait, Amazon says the Echos will come to Croma and Reliance Digital stores after the invite period is over (no deadline set for that).

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You can now make Alexa-to-phone number calls in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Alexa-to-Alexa calls in the UK, Germany, and Austria

Amazon introduced calling and messaging to its Echo speakers back in May then implemented the same feature inside the Alexa app so you could start a call or receive one from your phone, without having to be near your Echo. However, the feature had one main limitation: the person you were calling had to have an Echo or at least Alexa calling set up. Calls to phone numbers weren't possible, but now they are.

Amazon secretly enabled the option a couple of days ago and has now officially added it to the Alexa app changelog. After setting up Alexa calling and messaging in the app's Conversations tab, you can say something like, "Call dad's phone," or, "Call dad's mobile phone number," and it will perform a call to the phone number.

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Amazon quietly announces Fire OS 6, based on Android Nougat

Amazon's fork of Android is known as Fire OS, and it ships on all of the company's tablets and TV devices. The current version, Fire OS 5, is getting a bit long in the tooth; it's based on either Lollipop or Marshmallow, depending on the device. Amazon revealed quite a few new products recently, but one announcement flew under the radar - Fire OS 6.0.

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[Deal Alert] Amazon is offering discounted bundles, such as the all-new 4K Fire TV and Echo Dot for $79.99 ($40 off)

Amazon has been busy announcing its latest hardware lineup this week, including a range of brand new Echo devices and a 4K Fire TV dongle. You may think you'd have to wait a while to see any of the new products discounted, but it's already the case for the new Fire TV. The high-definition TV dongle can be bought with either the HD Antenna or an Echo Dot with a healthy saving, and there's also a deal involving the original Fire TV Stick.

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Amazon announces new Echo speakers, Spot alarm clock, 4K Fire TV dongle, and more

Amazon's hardware lineup occasionally gets a refresh, like with the new Echo Show earlier this year. But today is different. Amazon decided to announce six new products today, including sequels to the incredibly popular Echo speaker.

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Google has disabled YouTube on Amazon's Echo Show

Amazon has been making Alexa-powered Echo devices for a few years, but the new Echo Show is the first one to have any sort of visual element. The device's 7-inch touchscreen panel provides access to content like your security camera feeds, live news, and YouTube videos. Well, that last item was only true until yesterday afternoon. That's when Google blocked the Echo Show from accessing YouTube. There's plenty of fingerpointing on both sides of this one, too.

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Alexa voice controls are now available in the Amazon Music app

 

You can already ask Alexa to play you the latest Ed Sheeran hit on various music platforms, either through the Alexa app on your phone or via an Amazon Echo device. Starting today, you'll also be able to call on Alexa to control your music playback from directly within the Amazon Music app.

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Amazon Prime teams up with the NFL to launch live Thursday Night Football

For NFL fans with Amazon Prime memberships, a new perk is sure to liven up your Thursday nights. Starting September 28th, with Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers, live Thursday Night Football games will be streamed on the Amazon Prime site and the Prime Video app.

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Amazon Fire TV's OS 5.2.6 lets you use voice dictation when the keyboard is open

Back in 2010, Android 2.1 Eclair added voice dictation when the keyboard is open to let you use speech instead of hunting and pecking on your 3" display to type a few letters and characters. That function apparently never made it into Amazon's Fire OS Android fork on TVs (it's available on Fire tablets as far as I can tell). But that's changing now that Amazon is all about voice.

Fire OS 5.2.6 has been rolling to TV devices since September 13, but the official changelog was just posted and Amazon and says you can hold the voice button on the Alexa Voice Remote or the Fire TV Remote App (on your phone) when the keyboard is open to dictate text instead of typing one letter at a time.

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Amazon is working on a pair of Alexa-enabled 'smart glasses' and a home security camera

In the battle to become our smart assistant of choice, Amazon's Alexa is currently losing out in one key area: mobile. Apple's iPhones have Siri, and Android phones have the Google Assistant, but with the failure of the Fire phone, Alexa isn't the convenient choice on any smartphone. According to a report in the Financial Times, Amazon plans to address this issue by launching a pair of 'smart glasses' that can interact with Alexa.

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