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 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.
Siri started out with a female voice exclusively, but now it can be changed to male. Alexa uses only a female voice. Cortana’s voice, for now, is strictly female. Why is that? Is it sexism? Is it for better intelligibility? John looks into the matter.
In the battle of virtual personal assistants, Apple and Amazon have strong contenders. Which one is “smarter,” though, Siri or Alexa? Perhaps it’s too early to really call the race, since both personal assistants keep growing and evolving. Be that as it may, Jeff Butts has put both through their paces, and shares his thoughts.
Work Visas for the tech industry may be changing thanks to an executive order that’s said to be coming from the White House. Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join Jeff Gamet to look at the draft order and the impact it could have on Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. They also have some thoughts on the rapidly changing smart home market and Apple’s apparent lagging position.
Starbucks just added a new feature to its iPhone app that lets you speak your order instead of tapping through the on screen menu. The feature, called My Starbucks barista, works sort of like a text chat where you say what you want—like, medium soy chai—and the app places the order at your local Starbucks. The app can handle L.A. Story-quality orders, too, like double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and splash of cream in a grande cup. The good news is the feature is part of yesterday’s Starbucks app update, and the bad news is that it’s beta right now and available to only 1,000 customers. For the rest of us, we’ll have to make due with the new Starbucks Alexa skill that lets you reorder your last drink. Seriously. You can do that now.
Star Trek taught us years ago that we get the attention of our interactive computer systems by saying, “Computer.” We’re sort of there with Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot by saying “Alexa” before issuing a command, but it would be so much cooler if we could say “computer” instead. Turns out you can. Follow along to learn how.
Everyone got AirPods except you? No worries, Dave and John have you covered with some AirPods alternatives. Otherwise it’s listener questions dominate the show, as usual, with topics ranging from where to store your iTunes Media, network topology, replacements for Dropbox’s missing Public folder and much more. Download today and enjoy!
Super Mario Run hit Apple’s App Store yesterday, so today Bryan Chaffin joins Jeff Gamet to talk about the game and whether or not it’s worth the US$9.99 in-app purchase. They also talk about why Astra is an awesome iPhone app for Amazon Echo and Echo Dot owners.