Amazon has announced a host of forthcoming improvements for its Fire TV devices that ll offer greater voice commands and more 4K content.In a press release on Tuesday, the firm announced a new range of Alexa voice commands that ll make it easier to find and play content.Users will be able to launch apps, play content by speaking into the Fire TV remote.More skills borrowed from the Amazon Echo speaker are also coming, including the ability to find local movie show times, read Kindle books and find local find out what movies are playing in theatres near you or specific movie timesYouTube 4K Ultra HD—Access YouTube s full 4K library via the app on Amazon Fire TV when connected to a UHD-compatible TVSearch for local businesses and restaurants using Alexa—Ask What Mexican restaurants are nearby?to get convenient information on businesses nearbyAccess Kindle e-books via Alexa—Say Read The Nightingale to listen to text-to-speech enabled books from your Kindle library through Amazon Fire TVcomments powered by Disqus
Both are designed to be primarily voice controlled - Google Home lacks buttons altogether - and to blend into most decor.Inside, there's WiFi along with a speaker and microphone array; Amazon is particularly proud of the seven microphones that give Echo its precise ears, though it's hard to imagine that Google hasn't given across-the-room pickup the same sort of consideration for its device.Unlike Echo, which is music-only, Google Home will support video streaming too: you'll be able to verbally search for a clip, movie, or TV show, and then have it beamed over to a TV with a Chromecast plugged in.Some of the spoils of that were shown off during Google Home's brief demo: answering questions that, I suspect, would've easily stumped Alexa.I enjoy Amazon's virtual assistant, but her ability to muster up solutions is rudimentary: if she can find a Wikipedia entry for it, you're usually good to go, but anything demanding a more intuitive take gets you "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question" at best.It's also data that, though Amazon could try to help you duplicate, it faces a considerable barrier with: people's inherent laziness when it comes to jumping platforms.
Google has taken the wraps off Google Home, its push to bring the Google Assistant into the heart of the family, and push back at Amazon's Alexa in the process.The same is true for video, with the ability to request clips and movies to stream via a Chromecast plugged into a TV.Text messages can be sent by voice, restaurant bookings made or adjusted,However, there'll be support for various smart home products, including Nest and a variety of the "most popular" lights and more.In the future, Google says, it expects Google Home to support things like ordering a car, sending flowers, making purchases, and more by voice.As for the services Google Home offers, it sounds a lot like what we saw Viv demonstrate earlier this month.That, developed by the team responsible for the original Siri, does a similar sort of contextual linking of services.
Amazon might soon turn the tables on Google, who mostly reigns in the mobile market, by putting out a new kind of tablet.Codenamed "Knight", this tablet will differentiate itself from Amazon's existing Fire tablet line by being focused around its smart assistant, Alexa.Details about the "Knight" tablet are still shrouded in secrecy aside from the Alexa factor.It may or may not be the continuation of the 14-inch "Cairo" tablet that the retail giant was rumored to be working on.Despite the "yet another platform" syndrome, reception has been surprisingly positive.Preferably before Google or Apple also secure the market.
Alexa on Fire TV has gradually improved since it first debuted last September; Tuesday's update adds television controls and app-launching capabilities.While the new features are not immediately available, Amazon will roll these out via software updates over the next few weeks.Among the key new features are Fire TV app-launching capabilities and the option to ask Alexa to play content from Amazon Video and any add-on subscription content, as well as the capability to find movie showtimes at nearby theaters, read Kindle ebooks, and local business search.The Fire TV version was really no more than just another Echo speaker in your system when it launched in September, although Amazon added smart home support two months later.Consider it a move to put it on par with compeitors: Apple TVs already have Siri integration, and the Roku 3 and 4 have similar voice-enabled functionality.Besides the Alexa improvements, Amazon also made a move Tuesday to improve content availability.
It s a voice-activated device that looks like a small bookshelf speaker and acts as a voice-recognizing, intelligent front end to music and other entertainment, everyday tasks like calendar appointments, Google s search engine and home automation systems like Google s own Nest.But while Amazon can offer the world s largest retail store and content inventory, Google has search and its immense knowledge and product ecosystem.Users access the always-listening device, according to a video shown during the I/O keynote address, by saying Okay, Google.The video, which showed a typical family employing the device in the morning rush to work and school, indicated that Google Home is designed to work with devices throughout a house, including speakers, TVs and lights via home automation.Google Home, which will only support one account initially, is intended for release this year at an as-yet-undisclosed price.More than a dozen services are already integrated, including Uber, Pandora, OpenTable, Spotify, WhatsApp and Ticketmaster.
Step aside Alexa, Google has its own voice-based digital assistant: Google Assistant.While it lacks a proper or even pretty name, this could be the mother of all voice-activated assistants."Our ability to do conversational understanding is far ahead of what other assistants can do," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who announced the new assistant from the Google I/O 2016 developers conference keynote stage on Wednesday.It will let users manage and access schedules, find out about traffic, track packages, and ask Google Assistant general interest questions.Google Assistant will actually work during conversations and automatically try to help with, for instance, dinner reservations the group is discussing.It will also bring in outside, relevant information like restaurant cards, the kind you normally see in Google Now and Google search results , and then guide users through setting number of diners, time to dine and making reservations with Open Table.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California Reuters - Alphabet's Google Inc unveiled its answer to Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant along with new messaging and virtual reality products at its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, doubling down on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the keys to its future.Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant designed to perform voice-controlled tasks, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home.However, Pichai said Google Assistant can use images and other information to provide more intuitive results."You can be in front of this structure in Chicago and ask Google who designed this and it will understand in this context that the name of that designer is Anish Kapoor," said Pichai, pointing toward a photo of Chicago's Cloud Gate sculpture.It will also connect to Google's new Allo messaging App, which is scheduled for release this summer.Google did not offer a specific release date or pricing for Google Home, saying only that it will be available later this year.
Earlier this week, in fact, sources suggested that Siri would be given a new home in a dedicated device, complete with Echo-style microphones and speakers.Although currently accessible on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV through the latter's Siri Remote, the standalone device - which has, it was said, been in development since before Amazon revealed Echo - would allow playlists to be loaded by voice, standalone music playback, and more.Their unnamed insider claims that, while Apple did consider a new product, the idea was eventually discarded out of deference to the amount of investment already made into the company's existing home product, the Apple TV.One point where the two reports coincide is the suggestion that Apple is working on building out its backend, in preparation for more Siri capabilities.Amazon's Alexa, the voice control system that powers Echo, has been rapidly gaining third-party integration with a range of devices and services spanning the gamut from streaming music providers like Spotify, through smart home tech like Philips' hue bulbs and Nest's thermostats.Apple had already positioned Apple TV as the hub for HomeKit, its smart home and Internet of Things platform, though that's more about ensuring perpetual connectivity between devices than direct control.
It s a browser-based simulator that only requires an Amazon account; once logged in, anyone with a microphone, of course can talk to the on-screen Alexa in much the same way you would if an actual device were in the room.The help documentation explains that EchoSim doesn t support streaming music and far-field voice recognition.In announcing EchoSim today, Amazon s Glenn Cameron says it s for developers who want to test their skills — Amazon s word for the third-party apps that work with Alexa.His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism.After leaving traditional media in the mid-1990s, he began developing and marketing websites and continued to provide consulting services for more than 15 years.You can reach Matt via email using our Contact page.
After logging in with an Amazon account, anyone can start asking Alexa questions by clicking and holding on the mic button.But since launch, one of the real differentiators for the Echo has been integration with third-party developers.With, built by Nexmo developer advocate Sam Machin at a hackathon in 2015, anyone with access to the web can check out how Alexa works.Amazon has been taking strides toward turning Alexa into a platform that stretches past Amazon s own hardware.Recently, the company launched SDKs and APIs so that both hardware and software developers could integrate Alexa into their wares.This latest move is just puts Alexa in an even more accessible place.
A browser-based version of Amazon's Echo speaker should make Alexa even easier to try, with Amazon hoping the hardware-free experience encourages more developers to code for the platform.Availability of Echo has improved dramatically since the early days, where buying the smart speaker was an invitation-only affair.All the same, those still yet to acquire the hardware had no real way of knowing what the experience of using Alexa was like, nor indeed any way to test their own apps.Similarly, those outside of regions where Echo is sold couldn't get the device - officially, anyway - at all.It relies on WebRTC, which means Chrome on Android, Linux, OS X, and Windows , Firefox, and Opera, are all supported.Safari support, however, is a work-in-progress.
The Amazon Echo is still only officially available inside the United States, leaving Brits wondering whether all that hype is merited.Now the company is offering up a demo of the Alexa assistant s capabilities within web browsers, through the Alexa Skill Testing Tool site.The site via VentureBeat , which is based on a like-minded project from independent developer Sam Machin, lets visitors issue commands as they would on the Echo range of smart home speakers.Related: Amazon Echo and Alexa: Everything you need to knowAs well as fulfilling the whims of curious folks outside America, Amazon is also offering up the tool as an aid to developers around the world who can test integration of their apps through the Alexa Skills lives in your browser, so anyone, anywhere can access it and test their Alexa skills, writes Glenn Cameron on the Amazon developer blog.Amazon is yet to reveal if and when it ll be bringing Alexa to nations beyond the United States.
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View you've heard about the Amazon Echo and have been wondering what it's like to use it before committing to buying one, there's now an online tool that lets you test it out as much as you want, right in your browser.You don't need to use the name Alexa, you can just ask it any question and, in most cases, get a great answer back.Originally developed last year at a hackathon by UK-based Sam Machin, the barebones page is a simple, but powerful demonstration of a product both Google and if rumors are to be believed Apple are attempting to emulate.A similar Amazon Echo testing device debuted earlier this month for mobile devices called Lexi, and yet another device, called Triby, recently launched as one of the first non-Echo devices with Alexa functionality.With millions of products available via voice, and a growing library of non-ecommerce-based voice functions, Alexa already has a huge lead on any potential competition.But since monopolies rarely serve consumers, we can only hope that Google and Apple hit the accelerator on their digital assistant projects and catch up to Alexa sooner rather than later.
In fact, the surprising success of the Echo has created a whirlwind of competition in the smart-home space: Google recently unveiled Google Home and now there are rumors that Apple is planning to release its own stand-alone Echo competitor.In an effort to show users what using Echo is like, developer and Echo-enthusiast Sam Machin recently launched a new website at that allows users to take Amazon s AI software for a test drive.The Echo certainly has stellar reviews, but many consumers are understandably reluctant to fork over $180 for a voice-command system from a company with no real track record to speak of in the voice-powered AI space.Perhaps swayed by the success of the Echo, it s believed that Apple at WWDC will finally issue an official SDK for Siri.Mobility has changed considerably over the years, yet carriers haven't.Why hasn't the prominence of the mobile web brought with it unlimited data?
Considering how much attention the likes of Facebook and Google are giving them, conversational, AI-powered bots are our future, and the Amazon Echo is one of the most well-known smart home devices with a software-driven personality.Alexa is the name of the AI and search technology that powers the Echo, and Amazon just released an online tool called so you can try out the technology for yourself, even if you don't have one of Amazon's devices at home.You're going to need to log into the site using your Amazon credentials and grant the website access to your microphone, but setup just takes a couple of minutes and the service is free for anyone to make use of.Smart attackIt's not the first time Alexa has appeared outside of the Echo, as we've also seen the smart assistant appear on a smartwatch, and Amazon seems keen to have its software technology available on a whole host of devices in the future.With Google Home arriving later this year and Apple rumoured to be building an Echo competitor of its own, the quality of the underlying code is going to be crucial in helping customers pick one always-on smart home device from another.There are now several Echo devices on sale, though they're still only available to customers in the US - how about some love for the rest of the world, Amazon?
Alexa is, of course, the voice-recognition bot that powers the Echo device and the ancillary Dot and Tap gadgets .Amazon via TechCrunch In other news, Google for iOS was recently updated with faster load times, new keyboard shortcuts for the iPad version, and Accelerated Mobile Pages in search results.The passwords are hashed though, meaning that they re encoded in strings of digits rather than plain text, but they could still potentially be cracked.Motherboard Will the next MacBook Pros have magical light-up keyboards?Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities claims that the next generation of MacBook Pros will sport a touchscreen OLED display just above the keyboard where you would expect to find the F keys.Gizmodo via 9to5Mac Summer is here, the long weekend is coming to a close, and I suspect the rest of the week will be full of Mondays.
The popular virtual assistant is one of the major selling points of the Amazon Echo and its growing smart home ecosystem, but now, you can enjoy Alexa a la carte as well.It s all thanks to a new web app you can access at, and it lets you talk to Alexa directly from your Chrome, Firefox, or browser of choice.As Amazon tells it, the web app began with a hackathon project from Sam Machin.The web app features 3D JavaScript animations and Alexa Voice Service AVS integration, allowing users to interact with Alexa and observe her skills and capabilities.And you still give the virtual assistant commands in the same way you would if you had an Echo, although you ll have to click and hold a button in the web app to have Alexa listen to you whereas with an Echo, she s always listening, sometimes too frequently .Amazon is encouraging both developers and tech enthusiasts alike to take the new web app for a spin, noting, Its simplicity makes it easy for anyone to understand what an Echo is and what it does without having to explain Alexa s unique UX.
Amazon's voice-powered personal assistant Alexa has been getting a bit of attention lately, especially among the home automation crowd experimenting with the Echo smart speaker.The device is able to to answer basic questions around information, weather, news and music and control other gadgets.If you ve been wondering what it s like to use the Amazon Echo but didn t want to commit to buying one before trying it out, good news: you can now play with Alexa right in your browser.After logging in with an Amazon account, anyone can start asking Alexa questions by clicking and holding on the mic button, and though it s more limited than the real deal, its simplicity makes it easy for anyone to understand what an Echo is and what it does.The company hopes developers worldwide can use to access it and test their Alexa skills -- the equivalent of apps for smartphones.Amazon offers three step-by-step tutorials to help you build your first Alexa skill in under an hour.