Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Amazon is making a big push to be everywhere in the smart home, which is why its devices are relatively inexpensive: the new Amazon Echo is $99.99, Echo Plus is $149.99, Echo Spot is $129.99 and the new Fire TV stick is $69.99. The company is betting on being ubiquitous enough in homes to become the de facto standard for smart home devices — in essence, a new operating system. Proof that Amazon is playing a long game is the Echo Plus, which with a single command could turn off the lights, lock the door and turn off the TV. Continue reading Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Amazon’s annual Prime Day proved to be a major success on Tuesday, breaking its own single-day sales record for the second consecutive year. According to the e-commerce giant, Prime Day sales surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with total sales figures more than 60 percent higher than the previous year’s event. Deals are reserved exclusively for Prime members, and the company signed more new members on July 11th than any other single day in its history. The Echo Dot smart speaker was the best-selling Amazon device as well as best-selling product from any manufacturer across all categories. Continue reading Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

After producing Bluetooth earpieces and wireless speakers for years, Jawbone pivoted to fitness wearables in 2011, with the debut of its UP health tracker. Then came two lawsuits in 2015, with Flextronics and Fitbit, and research that reported the company had captured only 2.8 percent of the fitness wearables market. So it should come as no surprise that Jawbone has entered into liquidation proceedings, and co-founder/chief executive Hosain Rahman is no longer with the company, having left for a new venture named Jawbone Health Hub. Continue reading Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

A study conducted by New York digital ad agency 360i revealed that Google Home is six times likelier than Amazon Alexa to answer user requests correctly. However, consumers are much more likely to purchase the Amazon product than Google’s. Amazon currently dominates with 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market, says eMarketer. Amazon released its new Echo Show with interactive touchscreen this week, and according to one reviewer, it’s not much different from Android or Apple voice assistants. Continue reading Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Burger King released a TV ad in which an actor activates the Google Home digital assistant to describe the ingredients in the Whopper sandwich. Prompted by the actor, Google Home searches Wikipedia for the Whopper and lists the makings of the sandwich. Within hours of the ad’s release, however, both The Verge and BuzzFeed discovered that the commercial no longer activated the device. Burger King did not work with Google to create this marketing approach, and Google reacted by stymying it. Continue reading Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Apple has launched a new website for its HomeKit software and Home App, which are used to control connected appliances and other devices in a user’s house. The site displays the compatible devices from 50 different brands and allows users to group them so that multiple actions can be triggered with a single tap or voice command. Apple has recently faced more competition in the smart home space because of Amazon’s Echo, which can also operate home devices via voice commands. Continue reading Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

VoiceLabs just released a report that shows Amazon Echo and Google Home, holiday season hits, have problems to overcome in order to achieve mainstream acceptance. Its data reveals only 3 percent of users who enable an Alexa or Google Assistant voice app become active users by the second week, and, of the 7,000+ Alexa Skills voice apps, 69 percent have zero or one customer review, a sign of low to no usage. In comparison, Android and iOS apps have 13 percent and 11 percent retention rates respectively after one week. Continue reading Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Tech publication Digital Trends unveiled its Top Tech of CES Award Winners. Best of Show this year went to Samsung’s $449 Chromebook Plus, which will roll out next month. “Designed with cooperation from Google, the Chromebook Plus is the first Chrome OS device built with Android apps in mind,” notes DT. “The 2,400 x 1,600 panel has a digitizer for built-in stylus support, and flips a full 360 degrees for dedicated tablet use.” Additional winners include Sony’s Bravia A1E 4K OLED (home video), Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 mirrorless camera (photography), Nvidia’s PilotNet (automotive), Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 (computing), the HTC Vive tracker (gaming), the Honor 6X budget phone (mobile), Beyerdynamics’ Xelento Remote (headphones), and GoldenEar’s Triton Reference speakers (home audio), among others. Continue reading Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

During his CES presentation, Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai revealed plans for the company’s future, including an emphasis on creating personal experiences for customers, generating sustainable growth for the Sony brand through continued innovation, and developing new products as “objects of desire.” “When you experience one of our products, interact with one of them, we want to generate an emotional response,” he explained. Hirai recognized Mike Fasulo, president/COO of Sony North America, for his “incredible efforts in this pursuit,” and announced the company’s new 4K OLED offerings, new 4K Bravias and Android TV OS. Continue reading Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

CES is always a data scientist’s nightmare, and this year is no different. Why? It’s simple. The hardware vision we’re being served (24/7 connection with everything) immediately triggers one critical question: Where will all this data go? How will this comically fragmented data be integrated in a way that creates value for your lives, our families, our organizations? The central conundrum of wearables and IoT, which we see nowhere here, is that the firehose of data created by these devices can only create value if merged together in a way that’s (a) central, (b) safe, and (c) relevant to our lives. Emphasis on (c), of course. Continue reading First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Although Amazon declined to comment, sources say that the company is readying a premium Echo-like speaker for release in Q1 2017. The form factor is a break with Amazon’s cylindrical devices controlled by digital assistant Alexa. Instead, the new speaker will feature a seven-inch touchscreen that will tilt upwards, so users can see it when they are standing and looking at the speaker on a countertop. Sources add that, “at least one prototype version of the device places the speakers below and behind the screen.” Continue reading Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon debuted its streaming music service Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99 per month for Prime members and $3.99 a month for consumers who’ve purchased its Echo speakers. The Echo deal is significantly less than the $9.99 charged by Amazon’s many, already-established competitors. Amazon is also playing up another way Echo distinguishes its offering: a user can ask Echo’s digital assistant Alexa to play a band’s “new song” without knowing the title, a group’s music from a specific decade or a song based solely on its lyrics. Continue reading Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

Amazon plans to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music when the company launches its own on-demand music service early next year. Some reports suggest the service may be called Amazon Music Unlimited, and would not come with the annual $99 Amazon Prime subscription, but would likely run a separate $10 per month. “The company will also launch its Echo-based music service, which will cost $5 a month, within the next few weeks,” reports The Verge. “That service will allow Echo owners to access Amazon’s music library on-demand just like the more expensive offering, but playback will be restricted to the smart assistant.” Continue reading Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

Amazon’s soon-to-debut music streaming service will reportedly be priced at about $5 per month, say sources. That price point is less than that charged by competitors Spotify and Apple Music, but Amazon’s end game is to increase sales of its voice-controlled Echo. With a focus on its digital assistant, Amazon most recently debuted a less expensive version, the $50 Echo Dot and is promoting the devices, and its virtual helper Alexa, in its physical bookstores and pop-up stores. Continue reading Amazon Aims to Bring Echo to More Homes with Music Service

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