The Mac Observer's WWDC 2017 coverage sponsored by:

  • GigSky
  • Other World Computing
  • Readdle
  • SaneBox
  • iMazing

Could Alexa and Siri Prevent or Report Child Abuse?

· · Analysis

Alexa or Siri might have to report child abuse

With connected devices and voice assistants becoming more common in our households, children are seeing them as friends. Sometimes, they might even see the device as a trusted confidant. Could that encourage legislators to make the devices report child abuse? Jeff Butts has been thinking hard about that, and suggests it might not be a terrible idea.

Amazon's Alexa Calling Feature Works From Your iPhone, too

· · Quick Tip

An Echo Dot and various Alexa app screens showing Alexa Calling on the iPhone

Amazon’s Alexa Calling feature works great on the Echo and Echo Dot, from the testing TMO staff have done so far. Jeff Butts and Jeff Gamet also took the time to check out how the feature works from the Alexa app on the iPhone. Here’s what they found out, and how you can use it, too.

Alexa, Siri, You're Not a Trusted Family Member

· · Editorial

Amazon Echo

The conceit of AI agents like Alexa, Cortana, Google Home and Siri is that they are to be always listening, invited to be treated as trusted family members. Or the loyal computer of our family’s starship. John Martellaro doesn’t like these analogies at all.

Siri's No Amazon Alexa yet, but Give Her Time

· · Editorial

Can Siri be the answer to Amazon Alexa?

With Amazon Alexa being joined in our living rooms by Google Assistant and now Microsoft Cortana, it’s clear that Apple needs to step up to the plate and take back the home. Jeff Butts makes the case for why Cupertino needs to develop an Echo-like device for Siri.

Amazon Unveils Echo Show with Display and Video Camera

· · News

Amazon Echo Show with display and video camera

The biggest un-surprise of the day comes from Amazon and its just announced Echo Show. The well-leaked new Echo model includes a built-in display and camera so you can get visual responses to your Alexa queries and make video calls, too.

Why Apple Should Eventually Build Family Service Robots

· · Editorial

Bluefrogrobotics Buddy

Several things have become clear regarding AIs in our lives. There is little regulation. AIs can be manipulated in clever ways. Small devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo have very indirect business models so that they can be priced for the middle class, but have hidden drawbacks. John wonders where all this will lead with family service robots if Apple doesn’t step in and do it right.

The Alexa Assistant, OK Google, and Lots More in one Full-Featured Speaker

· · Cool Stuff Found

Say hello to the first standalone device to give you the Alexa assistant, OK Google, and plenty more. The folks at Indiegogo have more than funded the Clarity Speaker. Still, you can preorder yours until the end of April 2017. One great thing about Clarity is you get a portable Bluetooth and Wi-FI speaker with a seven-inch fully-featured touchscreen. Additionally, Clarity includes a built-in Alexa assistant and “OK Google” functionality. It’s also a fully functional Android tablet, running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Clarity Speaker is extremely portable, weighing less than two pounds. The device is powered by a quad-core processor. Clarity includes two 5-watt speakers and a 2MP camera. Internally, you’ll have access to 16GB of memory. You can expand storage with a  micro SD card. The speaker is available for preorder at US $149 until April 30, 2017. The regular retail price is $199, and the device begins shipping in June.

The Alexa Assistant, OK Google, and Lots More in one Full-Featured Speaker

Amazon Shopping App on iPhone gets Alexa Support

· · News

Amazon shopping app on iPhone gets full Alexa support

If you use the Amazon app on your iPhone to shop you can use it to talk to Alexa, too, even if you don’t own an Echo or Echo Dot. The online retailer is rolling out in-app Alexa support for iPhone users over the next week which means pretty much everything you do with an Echo or Echo Dot can happen right on your smartphone.

Amazon Goes with First Amendment to Protect Alexa Recordings

· · Analysis

Amazon Echo recordings targeted in police warrant for homicide investigation

Amazon filed a motion to block a search warrant demanding recordings from an Echo in its ongoing fight to protect user privacy. The warrant is part of a Bentonville, Arkansas homicide investigation, and Amazon says communication with the Echo and its Alexa voice interface are protected as free speech by the First Amendment.