Tag Archives: amazon echo

YouTube is back on Amazon’s Echo Show

YouTube has returned to the Amazon Echo Show nearly two months after a Google and Amazon dispute saw the internet search giant pull support for its popular video service from Amazon’s hardware, according to a report from VoiceBot.ai.

Along with the return of YouTube, Amazon is also expanding video services on the Echo Show as well, with the company launching support forVimeo and Dailymotion. In a statement to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson commented that “We’re excited to offer customers the capability to watch even more video content from sources such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Dailymotion on Echo Show. More video sources will be added over time.”

According to Google, Amazon’s original implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show “violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience.” It seems that Amazon and Google have been able to reconcile that problem, with a new version of YouTube that has a dramatically changed interface that much more closely resembles the desktop version of the site than Amazon’s own Echo-style integration. VoiceBot.ai has posted a video of the updated UI, which is embedded below, but if you’ve ever used YouTube on a computer or tablet, you’ve more or less already know what it’s like.

That updated version of YouTube on the Echo Show also means that features like subscriptions, next video recommendations, and autoplay — which my colleague Dieter Bohn pointed out as missing features in Amazon’s original app that Google might view as important for future growth — are now back in play on the Echo Show. But they come at the cost of the far more user-friendly and voice control-optimized software that Amazon had originally designed.

Based on a tweet from The Verge editor Dan Seifert, it seems that the new YouTube integration only halfheartedly supports voice controls at all, with the device managing to play audio of a video through voice commands, but not actually display the footage on-screen without manual intervention. Once you have video playing, the Echo Show still does support full-screen YouTube video through a separate “Alexa, zoom in” command.



Anker made a tiny Alexa speaker that’s like an Echo Dot but cheaper

If you own an Amazon Echo and want to get Alexa into more rooms of your house, your best bet has long been the tiny, $50 Echo Dot. But now the accessory company Anker taking on Amazon with a similarly tiny smart speaker with built-in Alexa that sells for only $35.

Anker’s speaker is called the Eufy Genie. And while that’s kind of a weird name, the product itself is pretty straightforward. It’s only slightly bigger than the Echo Dot, but Anker claims it’ll offer better audio and pretty much all the same features. So it’ll still be listening for you to ask questions or give Alexa commands, and it’ll be capable of doing all the things that Alexa is normally capable of, like ordering stuff, playing music, and controlling smart home gadgets.

Whether it’s actually better or at least as good as the Echo Dot remains to be seen. The product is being announced today, but it doesn’t ship for another week, until August 16th. But if it manages to at least match the Echo Dot’s abilities, Anker has a good shot at winning over customers looking to put Alexa in another corner of their house.


The Eufy Genie has one additional feature that isn’t part of the typical Alexa repertoire, though it’s nothing too exciting: the Genie will also be able to connect with and control other Eufy-branded smart home products from Anker. There aren’t a ton of them yet, but Anker plans to release some lights and wall plugs in the next few weeks. But given the price of the Genie, you can assume they’ll be priced in a similarly aggressive manner.

Anker also plans to introduce a $40 version of the Eufy Genie that includes Bluetooth support, which might let it connect to external speakers for playing music. That’s something the Echo Dot can do, so the inclusion would help bring the Genie even closer to Amazon’s product.



Amazon cuts Echo price by 50 percent for Prime Da

Amazon is offering some big discounts for its Echo and Echo Dot devices today. As part of the company’s annual Prime Day, Amazon is cutting the Echo price by 50 percent, and the Echo Dot by 30 percent. Amazon’s Echo will be available for just $89.99 (£79.99 in the UK) at 6PM PT / 6PM BST / 9PM ET tonight, alongside the Echo Dot priced at $34.99 (£34.99), the lowest price it’s ever been.


Amazon’s Echo competition has been increasing recently, especially with Google’s launch of the Home and the upcoming Cortana-powered Harman Kardon speaker and Apple’s HomePod speaker. Amazon’s Echo Prime Day pricing is even cheaper than last year’s Prime Day or Black Friday. The aggressive pricing could hint that Amazon is ready to refresh its main Echo speaker this year.

Amazon is also previewing some other deals on its Kindle and Fire tablets, as well as TVs, headphones, and laptops. We’ve rounded up the best Prime Day deals below:

  • Save 50 percent on Amazon Echo, $89.99
  • Save $15 on Echo Dot, $34.99
  • Save $30 on Kindle Paperwhite, $89.99
  • Save $40 on Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, $89.99
  • Fire 7 tablet for $29.99
  • Save $75 on Echo Show and Arlo Security Camera bundle
  • Save 30% on Echo Dot and TP-Link Smart Plug bundle
  • Save $50 on August Smart Lock
  • Save up to 50% on select video games, consoles and accessories
  • Save up to 40% on PC gaming laptops, desktops and accessories
  • 25 percent off select TCL smart TVs



Amazon’s new Echo Show can make video calls

Amazon on Tuesday rolled out yet another version of the Echo – this time sporting a screen that allows users to make and take video calls.

The Echo Show, as it’s called, signals that Amazon is not only pushing ahead with its goal of ruling the home, but it is also taking a major shot at a messaging platform. The Echo Show looks to complement – or even supplant – the phone or personal computer when it comes to real-time communication.

It also illustrates how deeply Amazon and other companies want to embed themselves in consumers’ lives, with technology that almost fades into the background of our homes.

(Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

The calls work just about as you might expect, using a front-facing camera. There’s also a “drop-in” mode on the Echo Show, which automatically will accept a video call after 10 seconds.

That could feel invasive to some. But Amazon’s ads indicate that only people of your choosing can use the feature – close friends and family, for instance. Recipients also can decline a drop-in or make it audio-only, if they respond in that 10-second window.

The 7-inch screen also serves other purposes. Consumers will be able to watch short videos from YouTube and Amazon on the screen, in addition to movie trailers. If you call up tunes from the company’s Prime Music service, the lyrics to songs will scroll by as it plays. The addition of a screen also adds to the smart home functions already available on the Echo with users being able to use the Echo Show to peek in on their home security cameras or baby monitors.

The screen also could make certain apps easier to use, by displaying visual menus rather than having Alexa rattle off a string of options.

Amazon also will let people place video calls through the Alexa app and Echo users will be able to leave voicemail – effectively sneaking a new Amazon messaging platform onto the Echo, smartphones and tablets.

Home hubs give companies access to a lot of user data, by essentially running the lives of their customers – something that’s appealing to companies and perhaps alarming to the privacy-conscious. And the battle in the home hub space is becoming very fierce. Google and Amazon products are already on the market, and a Microsoft home hub was announced last week, as these tech giants vie to become the company that consumers turn to for advice and information at every point in the day.

Apple is also expected to get in on the market, with analysts speculating the announcement of a Siri-powered home hub device, which also may have a screen, as early as next month.

The Show costs $229 and is expected to ship on June 28.

TEC--Amazon-New Echo Speaker



Amazon’s Echo family can now make calls and send messages

One of the most notable new features introduced alongside Amazon’s new Echo Show is the ability to make calls with Alexa, something that’s been rumored for a while now. And the good news is that this feature isn’t limited to just the Echo Show. When it rolls out later today (via an update to the Alexa iOS and Android apps), you’ll be able to use all existing Echo hardware to place voice calls, video calls and send messages. You’ll obviously need an Echo Show for video calling, but the support for voice calling and messaging is pretty robust.


If you have an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show, you can initiate calls (including video calls with the Show) and send messages to anyone else in your address book who has turned on Alexa calling. The recipients of your calls don’t even need to have an Echo — they just need to have the Alexa app installed on their phone and turn on the feature. If you have an Echo and receive a call, Alexa will alert you and a green ring will be displayed on your device. From there, you can tell Alexa to pick up the call or ignore it. As for messages, you’ll hear a chime when one arrives and the green light ring will appear on your device; you can then ask Alexa to play the message back to you.

The last calling feature is something Amazon’s calling “Drop In” — this makes the Echo Show basically work as a video intercom that you can activate at any time, whether the devices are in different places in your house or totally different locations entirely. Obviously, you’ll only want to enable Drop In with contacts you trust and don’t mind popping up on your Echo Show at any time.

With this, Amazon has basically turned the entire Echo ecosystem into a pretty robust speakerphone. Ironic considering how badly the Fire Phone flopped, but this feature makes perfect sense for the Echo hardware. When Google first unveiled Home almost one year ago, the company said you’d eventually be able to send text messages with your voice — but that feature still hasn’t materialized.

The feature is even more timely given that Microsoft and Harmon Kardon just announced a Cortana-powered voice speaker yesterday. The Invoke won’t arrive until the fall, however, which gives Amazon plenty of time to press its advantage in the growing voice-activated speaker market.





Amazon is expanding its Alexa offerings in an unexpected way with Echo Look, a camera-based style assistant that offers advice to help you look your best.

The device is a tripod-mounted camera array that comes packaged with Echo built in, allowing it to see what you’re wearing and make recommendations to improve your wardrobe. It does so by monitoring what’s “in” or “out,” as well as the shape and natural color of the person, which caters results to you specifically, rather than using the same formula for everyone. 

Amazon’s iOS app has a similar feature that offers advice from real people working for Amazon, but without all the mathematics. Echo Look, on the other hand, operates independently of human intervention. To do so, the device utilize a hands-free camera, which according to Amazon, is complete with built-in lighting and a depth sensing camera that blurs the background and makes your photos “pop.” It’s also complete with a live-view mode and video functionality that lets you see yourself from every angle. 

In addition, it appears to work seamlessly with the iOS Photos app making it easy to share these images on social media, the same way you would with any image captured on an iPhone. Finally, once an image is captured, the Style Check feature provides fashion recommendations by combining information from specialists and machine learning. It can do things like compare two outfits or create a personal look book that shows you what you wore and when you wore it while marking your favorites.

At the end of the day, it raises the question of whether you’re ready to trust computer learning to determine your outward appearance. However, based on the introduction video, it’s reasonable to say that Echo Look is intended to be used as more of an accessory to your clothing selection than an end-all bank of fashion knowledge.

Right now, Echo Look is available for $200 but only by invitation, which suggests the device is still being tested. We’ll know more when it gets a full release, but it will be interesting to see what the future holds for somewhat autonomous fashion.




How Amazon’s new Echo can help you with fashion

Amazon.com Inc. wants to help you choose what to wear.

The technology and retailing behemoth on Wednesday unveiled a voice-controlled camera, the Echo Look, and an app that recommends which of two outfits is best, using fashion specialists’ advice and algorithms that check for the latest trends.

The new product underscores Amazon’s ambitions to be a top player in fashion and voice-powered computing.


Amazon is working to make its voice assistant Alexa, which competes with Apple Inc.’s Siri, an indispensable feature of people’s lives: from playing music to helping someone cook, and now to helping someone dress. The more commands it receives and data it processes improve Alexa’s understanding, making the service more useful.

The same holds true for Amazon’s new “Style Check” service.

Users submit two full-length photos of their outfits, taken by the Echo Look, and they receive recommendations that become “smarter through your feedback and input from our team of experienced fashion specialists,” Amazon said on its website.

If successful, the service would not only give Amazon data on what outfits customers prefer, but it also would help shoppers equate Amazon with fashion – a lucrative market for online retailers.

Surging apparel sales are helping Amazon challenge Macy’s Inc as the dominant retailer in the category. Customers like to try on clothing in stores, however, an obstacle to future growth online.

The Echo Look “opens up a new realm of shopping experiences,” said Werner Goertz, a Gartner Inc analyst. It may one day herald the use of augmented reality in e-commerce so shoppers can “try things on visually before you make your buying decision.”

The Echo Look’s camera — the first in an Alexa device — has the potential to be used for home surveillance, video conferencing and various enterprise applications, he added.


The $199.99 Echo Look is not yet available to the general public. Amazon has sold an estimated 10 million or more Alexa devices, and has had trouble keeping the original Echo device in stock, it has said.




How Echo, Google Home, and Other Voice Assistants Can Change the Game for Content Creators

Publishers gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears getting their content up-to-speed on mobile over the past few years. But that’s a platform primarily geared to eyeballs and fingertips—something they knew a bit about. Now, things are getting audible with speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo and Google Home, featuring Google Assistant. And, according to experts, publishers have to adjust. To do otherwise is to risk being drowned out by the sound waves of competitors and overlooked by consumers eager for immediate gratification audio.

Smart speakers aren’t simple, one-way Bluetooth-?enabled waterproof woofers and tweeters that make nice stocking stuffers for music-loving teenagers. They’re powerful digital assistants, tethered to your home, that use two-way voice computing technology without having to rely on your smartphone or its tinny little speakers. And that makes them game changers for content providers.

“Smart speakers are helping content publishers become truly ubiquitous. Today, they can reach their users only on screen-based devices, and then only when the user is actively engaged with them,” says Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, a bot developer that is partnering with Google to make it easier for companies and developers to interface with Google Assistant. “With voice-based smart speakers and their AI [artificial intelligence] assistants, content publishers can be an ambient presence throughout their user’s environment, and the smart bots they create can also personalize news for the user—delivering only specified content to them.”

Consider what that means to Echo users. In addition to following voice commands to play music, answer questions, purchase merchandise, and manage smart home devices, Echo can stream virtually anything playing on your phone, tablet, or laptop, including radio channels via TuneIn and podcasts from iHeartRadio. It can also read ebooks and audiobooks. Amazon has partnered with many publishers to provide content via Echo and Echo Dot, including The Guardian, CNET, GateHouse Media, and HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

Google Home offers similar features, including the ability to stream Google Play and Spotify and read the latest headlines and stories from content partners such as VentureBeat, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and BuzzFeed. Most recently, Google teamed up with CNBC and NBC News to feature their news stories and headlines on Google Home.


Smart speakers provide an exciting new distribution mechanism for digital content providers, says Andrew Cross, VP and partner at Walker Sands. “While the format doesn’t lend itself well to deep content yet, it does make the content accessible to a potentially large subset of new consumers,” he says.

Long term, these devices provide an opportunity for content to be delivered to the user at the right point in time, based on predetermined or specified behaviors. “The classic example is waking up in the morning to news headlines. As you walk into a geofenced area, such as your kitchen, your AI assistant reads you your calendar for the day, and as you approach the front door, you get a weather report,” Cross says.

Many believe consumers will increasingly become more dependent on smart speakers and their ilk. “That’s because they will offer news in a much more interactive manner than traditional news sources. The user will be able to skip a story or dive deeper, as required, and even query the assistant for specific topics and further customize and personalize the experience over time,” says Sheth. “Once that’s done, there’s no going back to traditional passive content sources.”

Annie Scott Riley, digital strategy director for Carmichael Lynch Relate, agrees. “We need to adapt our editorial practices to provide the relevant, succinct content that people are looking for. Because these devices are providing consumers increasingly passive ways to access content, we have to be smarter about how we match their queries,” says Riley. And smarter, too, about the way content is written for smart speakers. “People are looking to get news content in a quickly digestible way—short, smart, interactive radio. Content providers may or may not be fit for this radio style, based on their content and user activity,” Riley adds.

Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, says partnering with major news players such as NBC and The Guardian legitimizes and gives street cred to these devices and their technology. “Having major news players adopt the technology sends a positive message to other content providers,” Edelson says. “Other large content providers will follow suit.”

But that doesn’t mean there’s ample room for the small-fry publisher inside that smart speaker. “Smaller content providers are definitely fighting an uphill battle when it comes to preference for inclusion on platforms like Echo and Google Home,” says Cross. “It’s still in the early innings of user adoption, so it makes sense that Amazon, Google, and others would seek out partnerships with tier one content providers that bring an audience of their own to the platform and lend credibility out of the gates.”

Edelson believes it may be several years before smaller publishers gain greater entry into the smart speaker market, especially if Amazon and Google strike exclusive deals that limit competition. “Having content that is popular among users, is unique, and provides the greatest utility will have the best shot at gaining entry,” says Edelson. “Thankfully, smart speaker manufacturers are giving access to developers to integrate with their software development kits. …”

Any content provider can climb aboard the Alexa bandwagon now by creating a Flash Briefing skill; a Flash Briefing is customizable audio—often in the form of news updates, interviews, lists, and comedy bits—that Alexa can read aloud or play to users. Major content players currently offering Flash Briefings include the Associated Press, NPR, and the BBC.

Publishers can also interface with Google Home by working with the Actions on Google platform and building Conversation Actions that allow two-way dialogue with users.

“Content providers can get into the game by launching a chatbot for these platforms that’s simple and easy. Once they see users interacting with it, they can refine the end-user experience and add more advanced capabilities,” says Sheth.

Content players will need to keep pace in the voice assistant space or risk getting left behind, Sheth insists. “The past paradigm shifts—from desktop to websites and then to mobile apps—have been highly disruptive to content providers,” he says. “The ones that survived were early adopters who figured out the new medium and transformed their product and business models accordingly. The shift toward intelligent bots is going to be equally disruptive. Content providers will need to learn and adapt.”

Riley, however, isn’t so sure smart speakers represent a major paradigm shift. “Beyond shopping capabilities and seeking partnership opportunities, content providers should wait on investing heavily in adapting for these devices,” she says. Riley believes that the real game changer will eventually be a device that incorporates smart visual projection and motion-sensing solutions. “These audio assistants are a half step in technology, and publishers will need to redo everything in a matter of months when someone hits the market with a visual complement.” 



Amazon Echo: Now Alexa can check your Microsoft Outlook calendar, and voice calls could be coming soon

Users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker can now set Outlook as a default calendar for the Alexa service to access.

Outlook users can set Microsoft’s web-based calendar as the default option for their Amazon Echo and other Alexa-powered devices: Microsoft said this includes accounts with email addresses ending in @outlook.com, @hotmail.com and @live.com.

They can then check or add events by voice. For example, you can ask: “Alexa, add ‘dinner with Katie’ to my calendar,” or “Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”

It’s not the first calendar for Alexa; the service has integrated Google Calendar since it was launched, but it also shows Microsoft’s determination to have its services available on as many devices as possible, even if it doesn’t make them.

The move also reflects the continuing momentum behind Amazon’s smart device with its embedded voice-powered digital assistant, Alexa, which has evolved from a novelty into the next big thing in technology. The Alexa service is being integrated with devices ranging from from washing machines to smart door locks.

Also, according to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is also looking at how the Amazon Echo could be used for voice calls too. It’s hardly a big stretch: the device already has a microphone, a speaker and a web connection: however, according to the WSJ there are still privacy and regulatory issues to be resolved.

Check Amazon’s support website for instructions on how to set Outlook as the default calendar.



More than 8M people own an Amazon Echo as customer awareness increases ‘dramatically’

Amazon continues to see more and more traction with its voice-enabled speaker.

A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimates that there are now 8.2 million customers who own an Amazon Echo device, which first went on sale in late 2014 to Prime members and became generally available in June 2015.

That’s up 60 percent from the 5.1 million Echo users that CIRP cited in November 2016; the big increase likely resulted from a busy holiday season that saw Echo sales spike 9X from the year prior, according to Amazon. The 8.2 million number is also up nearly 3X from this time last year, CIRP said.

Amazon doesn’t publicly disclose official sales numbers for Echo or other devices, leaving third-party estimates as the best gauge of sales.

CIRP, which polled 500 U.S.-based Amazon customers for its report, also said customer awareness of the Echo has “increased dramatically” in the past year. The firm reported that awareness of the Echo among Amazon customers reached 82 percent as of last month; that’s up from 69 percent in September 2016 and up from 20 percent in March 2015. CIRP credited Amazon’s traditional media advertising and prominent placement on the company’s e-commerce site for the increased awareness.

Amazon’s Echo devices — the original Echo; the Echo Dot; and the Echo Tap — are powered by the company’s cloud-based artificial intelligence-powered Alexa voice platform, which can answer queries, control smart home devicesplay games with users, set timers, and much more.

CIRP gathered data on how people are interacting with Alexa. A majority are using it as an “information provider,” which CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz said is a sign that Amazon wants the Echo to become an internet browser.

“More Echo owners use it as an information source than as a voice-controlled music device,” Lowitz said in a statement. “Amazon positioned Echo and the Alexa software as much more than a smart audio player. Amazon clearly wants it to become an Internet browser and even a home controller. Hundreds of third-party electronics, appliance, and even auto manufacturers now offer products that work with Alexa. Amazon wants Alexa to be the starting point for the move to connected-automated homes.”



Ford, Amazon to Provide Access to Smart Home From the Car

LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Millions of consumers who befriended Amazon Alexa over the last year, including many who just received an Echo or Echo Dot as a holiday gift, will soon be able to experience Alexa like never before from a Ford vehicle. A new collaboration between Ford Motor Company and Amazon is making this capability possible.

The Alexa integration – the most comprehensive ever in a vehicle – allows Ford owners to play and resume audiobooks, order items on Amazon, search for and transfer local destinations to the in-car navigation system, and more. From home, Ford vehicle owners will be able to remote start, lock or unlock doors, and get vehicle information using voice commands.

“Ford and Amazon are aligned around a vision that your voice should be the primary way to interface with your favorite devices and services,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “Customers will be able to start their vehicles from home, and manage smart home features while on the road – making life easier.”

Ford will roll out its Alexa integration in two phases. The first, available later this month, connects you to your car from the comfort of home through Alexa devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The second, expected this summer, allows you to tap into a broad set of Alexa skills using your voice while driving – helping you keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

“We’re excited to work with Ford to enhance the driver experience both inside and outside of the vehicle,” said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. “We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, access entertainment, manage to-do lists and more makes for an extraordinary driving experience. We can’t wait for Ford customers to try this out.”

Alexa on the go
Beginning this summer, Ford drivers with SYNC® 3 will be able to ask Alexa to read weather reports, play music, check news, add items to shopping lists and more – all from their car. For instance, you could ask Alexa to add milk or batteries to your shopping list without ever picking up a pen.

This industry-first in-car capability through Ford SYNC 3 AppLink™ simply requires drivers tap the voice recognition button on the steering wheel, then say “Alexa,” followed by a question or command. Ford is currently beta-testing this experience with employees.

Inside the vehicle, drivers can ask Alexa to locate a desired destination. Alexa will use the vehicle location to find nearby businesses. For example, customers could say, “Alexa, find the nearest Italian restaurant.” Once the driver chooses the desired destination, Alexa can transfer the address to the SYNC 3 navigation system.

Customers can also continue experiencing their favorite books from the road. Using Whispersync for Voice, Alexa will switch to an Audible audiobook recording to resume reading where the driver left off.

Customers can also access many Alexa smart home devices to control lighting, security systems, thermostats and more from the vehicle.

Alexa at home
Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi owners will be first to access home-to-car capability using MyFord® Mobile technology.

Through Alexa, Ford plug-in electric vehicle owners can easily control their vehicle from home using Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. Speaking to Alexa through one of these devices, they can:

  • Start or stop the engine
  • Lock or unlock doors
  • Check range and charge status
  • Learn fuel level
  • Obtain a vehicle mileage summary

At home, interactions with Alexa could include:

User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to lock my car.”
Alexa: “Sending lock command to your car.”

User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to start my car.”
Alexa: “Sending start command to your car.”

User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile for my range.”
Alexa: “Your vehicle is 83 percent charged. Electric range is 17 miles, fuel range is 216 miles and overall range is 233 miles.”

Ford is working on adding Alexa home-to-car integration for vehicles with SYNC Connect in the future.

SmartDeviceLink support
The collaboration to integrate Alexa into the car introduced Amazon to Ford’s AppLink software, which provides the protocol for smartphone apps to communicate with Ford SYNC 3.

AppLink is now built on open source SmartDeviceLink software. This burgeoning standard was created in 2013 when Ford contributed the original AppLink code to encourage other automakers to adopt and use the software to link compatible smartphone apps with their own connectivity systems.

Earlier today, Ford and Toyota, the first automaker to announce adoption of SmartDeviceLink, announced formation of the SmartDeviceLink Consortium with four other automakers and several automotive suppliers as initial members. Amazon announced it will join the consortium to expand the opportunity of Alexa in the car.

The SmartDeviceLink Consortium will help further improve the open source software for all members, and give app developers and service providers expanded opportunities to reach consumers across multiple automaker product lines.



Amazon Echo spot ‘primes’ Super Bowl audience for drone delivery in the US

Air.” The Echo-Alexa system responds, “Ok, look for delivery soon.” At this point a drone comes into focus in the background.

Fine print at the end of the commercial warns viewers that drone delivery isn’t available in any US cities from Amazon Prime Air. Yet. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to answer questions about timing for the start of drone delivery in the US. But this person confirmed that the drone featured in the Super Bowl commercial was not a new model. The drone was the same type used to test and make deliveries in the UK commercially last year.

Amazon has been hyping the idea of drone delivery in the US for years now. R&D takes time, of course. But at least one other company, Flirtey, has already embarked making deliveries for 7-Eleven in Reno, Nevada. At this point, Amazon has at least revealed that the drones they are developing should be able to fly autonomously for 10 miles or more carrying packages to customers in under 30 minutes as part of Amazon Prime Air’s service.


Regulatory hurdles have limited the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for deliveries throughout the United States in general. Amazon has sought and attained different FAA exemptions to test and eventually use drones for deliveries, here. The FAA is expected to evolve rules to enable commercial drone use more broadly under the leadership of newly appointed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The Amazon spot wasn’t the only time that drones stole the show during Super Bowl LI. A fleet of Intel-powered drones also flew in a dazzling light show above Half Time headliner Lady Gaga.


Amazon Echo spot ‘primes’ Super Bowl audience for drone delivery in the US

Amazon Echo And Google Home Expected To Sell 24 Million Devices This Year, But There Is One Major Problem

Voice analytics platform VoiceLabs, widely used by Amazon Echo and Google Home, predicts that 24 million devices will be sold this year according to Yahoo Finance. The company has its own vantage point on how consumers use Echo and Home as those numbers grew 1,500% from the period of November to December while, Amazon hit the one million consumer mark in January. The figures grew as both devices were quite popular during the holiday shopping season.

However, there is one major problem; consumers aren’t using third-party apps that support both devices according to Recode. It was reported that 69 percent of more than 7,000 Alexa voice apps have one or zero customer review which indicates very low usage.

In addition, when third-party developers are able to get consumers to use their apps, only three percent of those users will be active after just one week of usage. In comparison, iOS and Android apps manage to retain its consumers on average rates of 11 percent and 13 percent, respectively after one week of usage.

It is speculated that consumers prefer to use what the devices are originally built for such as streaming music, controlling lights in their houses and reading audio books just to name a few. This might be good for Echo and Home, but it will not be enough for developers to build an ecosystem that will surround the devices.

Third-party developers need to generate revenues in order for them to keep going as a company. Amazon and Google also need to help the developers to solve the consumers’ retention problems.

VoiceLabs co-founder Adam Marchick stated that there are a lot of voice apps available on the market, but they are zombie apps. He also added that this should be no surprise as there are no voice prompts like push notifications exists for these types of apps. Marchick believes that voice apps that let consumers communicate with other people through the devices and connect with social networks are the ones that may be popular with the Echo and Home.


Are you using third-party apps for your Amazon Echo and Google Home? Write and share your thoughts down below the comments section.




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