Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Amazon is introducing a voice-activated gaming feature called Alexa Game Control that lets players dictate the action. The February 2023 release “Dead Island 2” will be the first game to incorporate Alexa Game Control. Currently in private beta, the new feature will initially roll out to a wider audience only in North America. Players who want to use the technology will need either a free Amazon account or Amazon Prime. With that in place, one can activate Game Control using push-to-talk or with a hands-free Voice Activity feature that automatically detects speech. Continue reading Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

Amazon just debuted new Alexa features including one that simplifies coordinating multiple voice assistants on a single device using Agent Transfers (AT) and Amazon’s Universal Device Commands (UDC). Using UDCs, Alexa will be able to act on instructions; for instance, saying “Hey Sonos, turn up the volume” to get results for devices with Sonos Voice Control. ATs enable Alexa to transfer requests it can’t unilaterally fulfill — like “Place an order on Uber Eats” — to other assistants that can. Amazon outlined its AT and UDC plans in a white paper on design recommendations for the Voice Interoperability Initiative (VII). Continue reading Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Meta Platforms is reportedly ceasing production of consumer version of its Portal video calling device, but will continue manufacturing the Meta Portal (formerly Facebook Portal) — which can connect up to 50 participants — for business use, according to recent reports. The company is also said to be cutting back on Reality Labs investments, reportedly shelving plans to release the augmented reality glasses developed under the codename Project Nazare, expected to come to market in 2024, and is skipping ahead to a more advanced, second generation version. Continue reading Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Despite slowing e-commerce sales growth and signs of a global recession, Amazon plans to continue diversifying through investments like building a brick-and-mortar grocery chain, launching a satellite network for Internet delivery, expanding Alexa services, and developing self-driving cars — including through Zoox, an autonomous taxi subsidiary. That was the message from company CEO Andy Jassy at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco. The remarks come after Amazon posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in Q1, which also marked the company’s slowest revenue growth since 2001. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

Voice shopping over smart devices rose to 45.2 million in 2021, a 120 percent increase in three years, reflecting a 30 percent compound annual growth rate according to Voicebot Research, which tracks use of voice-assisted devices. The analytics firm found that 20.5 million U.S. adults had used voice to shop for a product at least once in 2018. That figure rose to 45.2 million in 2021. However, the firm found that general-use smartphone voice assistants — such as those from Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Google — declined 2.8 percent among U.S. adults in 2021. Continue reading Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

Big and Small Players Support Matter Smart Home Standard

The global smart home device market is pegged at $41.2 billion in 2022, and is expected to hit $73.1 billion by 2026, according to Global Industry Analysts. That’s one reason companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and Amazon have established smart home platforms that enable mobile phones or Alexa to change thermostat settings or turn on the lights using apps that don’t require much fuss. But when it comes to interoperating among various devices and appliances, that’s where an industry standard comes in handy, and Matter, which debuts this year, expects to fill that niche. Continue reading Big and Small Players Support Matter Smart Home Standard

Amazon Glow Gives Kids Connectivity for Activities & Games

This holiday season, families may be basking in the warmth of the new Amazon Glow, which debuted in limited release September 28. The crackling 14-inch vertical tower is a combination tablet, camera and projector and features an 8-inch LCD HD touchscreen and can project up to 19.2-inches. While the $250 introductory price tag may be considered steep for a device aimed at toddlers (it is marketed for ages 3 and up), the Amazon Glow lets kids play remotely with family and friends, and can anyone really put a price to quality time across the miles?  Continue reading Amazon Glow Gives Kids Connectivity for Activities & Games

Adobe Analytics Reports a First Time Drop for Cyber Monday

Consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, representing a 1.4 percent decrease compared to last year. The sales drop marks the first time that Adobe Analytics reported a decrease in spending on a major shopping day (the firm has been tracking e-commerce since 2012). Adobe still anticipates record-breaking online shopping activity through the overall holiday season. According to the web analytics firm, U.S. consumers spent $109.8 billion online from November 1 through Cyber Monday, marking an 11.9 percent jump over 2020 for the same period. Continue reading Adobe Analytics Reports a First Time Drop for Cyber Monday

Amazon Ships Its First Fire TV-Branded 4K Smart TV Models

The first Amazon-branded televisions are now available. The Amazon Fire TV 4-Series models start at $370, while the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series — which come Alexa-enabled for voice control — start at $410 for a device marketed as an all-in-one entertainment solution for streaming, subscription TV, gaming, music and more. Amazon’s branded TV launch comes as Comcast throws its hat in the ring with its XClass sets built by Hisense. They join an already vibrant field, with players including Apple, Google, Roku, TCL, Samsung, LG and Vizio competing for market share. Continue reading Amazon Ships Its First Fire TV-Branded 4K Smart TV Models

New Amazon Devices Include Home Robot, Smart Thermostat

During its streamed media event this week, Amazon introduced new devices including a wheeled robot named Astro and a sale-by-invitation-only Ring autonomous security drone for the home. While the unusual products added sizzle, the focus was largely on basics like its first smart thermostat, updates to the Echo speaker line and Ring security products. Several of the new products appear to target market share of products already on offer, including through Amazon, and many emphasize synergy among Amazon’s hardware brands. The company’s fee-based premium services were also emphasized. Continue reading New Amazon Devices Include Home Robot, Smart Thermostat

Amazon Offers ‘One Palm’ Biometric Reader to Third Parties

After being road-tested in Amazon’s retail outlets, the Amazon One biometric palm reader is being made available as an identification and payment option to third-party businesses. Ticketing company AXS this week introduced Amazon One as an option for contactless entry at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Red Rocks guests can link their AXS Mobile ID with Amazon One at dedicated stations then enter the venue by hovering their hand, touch-free, over a scanner. Once the accounts are linked, Red Rocks ticketholders can quickly enter using a separate line exclusively for Amazon One users.  Continue reading Amazon Offers ‘One Palm’ Biometric Reader to Third Parties

Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Amazon stated that it would allow third-party developers to create widgets for its Alexa devices, or what it said will be “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.” It won’t be an advertising service, according to Amazon Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, but users will see personalized results based on the signals they send Alexa. Comedy Central will be one of the first featured skill cards. Amazon also announced that most Echo smart speakers will support the Matter open standard for smart home devices. Continue reading Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Jeff Bezos Steps Down, Andy Jassy Is the New Amazon Boss

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as chief executive of the e-commerce and tech giant, elevating Andy Jassy, former head of the company’s web division, to the CEO position, making it one of the most high-profile executive swaps in years. But behind the scenes, more change has roiled the company with numerous executives departing in the last 18 months, many after working there for years. That’s unusual because many of Amazon’s top staffers started with the company in its earliest days, became wealthy via stock, and were considered loyal lifers. Continue reading Jeff Bezos Steps Down, Andy Jassy Is the New Amazon Boss

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales

Amazon’s Prime Day sales this year reached $5.6 billion on the first day (Monday) and $5.4 billion on day two (Tuesday). According to Adobe Analytics, these numbers made Monday the biggest day for digital sales this year and Tuesday the second biggest, with total U.S. online retail sales 6.1 percent higher than Prime Day’s $10.4 billion worth of sales in 2020. Last year’s Cyber Monday previously held the record of busiest digital sales day at $10.9 billion, although that was a 24-hour event versus Prime Day’s 48 hours. Continue reading Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales