Apple’s growing services business, and its increasing openness to having its software on other people’s hardware, is one of the most fascinating stories in tech at the moment. Tech blogger turned venture capitalist M.G. Siegler has written an excellent summary of the situation on Medium. As he says, the future for the company “is going to be… different.”
Incidentally, it was a pod that really started to change the equation. The iPod. In order to reach a wider audience with that device, Apple had to do something that was seemingly against Steve Jobs’ DNA: make software for Windows. (Ice water! In Hell!) And the slope ultimately proved slippery, albeit in a slow way. Eventually, we got (and then lost) Safari for Windows. And in the more recent era, Apple Music for Android. And Alexa.
As ever more people buy smart speaker devices likes the Amazon Echo, the privacy concerns around such devices increase too. I’ve always been somewhat wary of them. Not that I’d be discussing much of any interest, but the idea of a device sitting in my home listening out attentively for a keyword, rather freaked me out. For Tom Hoggins, those concerns got too much. He explains in the Telegraph why he unplugged his Amazon Echo Dot.
I am not usually one for tin-hat conspiracies, but with the examples mounting and the increased scrutiny on companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook (among many others) for excessive data gathering, I did start to eye Alexa with some suspicion. It then showed an increased propensity for piping up over the dinner table, playing music without being asked or blurting out random facts when the ‘Alexa’ wake word had not been uttered in earnest. By that point, it was time for Alexa to go unplugged.
Users will be able to ask Alexa to access their Apple Music starting December 17th via a new skill.
Siri is a fairly good AI, but the fact that it stumbled on some basics is a source of disappointment for John.
Amazon held an event covering Alexa updates and a variety of Echo devices that proves Amazon thinks the assistant battle is far from over.
Kelly Guimont and Bryan Chaffin join Jeff Gamet to look at the new Echo and Alexa products Amazon announced on Thursday.
Check out this infographic from SEOTribunal.com on voice search that traces the history of the concept of voice search, and also has lots of stats on how people are using voice search today.
The Verge has picked up on an Indiegogo project from the Master Replicas Group. Licensed from Warner Bros, it’s a replica of the HAL-9000 communications station from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. MRG says they’ll marry this unit with Amazon’s Alexa technology. OMG. Now you can have the best of both of these voice assistants. (Hopefully with none of the downsides.) Pre-order now for January delivery. Starts at US$419.
Bryan Chaffin and the Maccast’s Adam Christianson join Jeff Gamet to talk about Bryan’s vision for whole home listening for voice assistants and why an iPhone in our pocket doesn’t count.
In this episode, Bryan Chaffin and Jeff Gamet discuss the current limitations of AI, and what real AI in the future might be like. They also talk about Apple’s T2 kernel panic issue and follow up on Bryan’s dual-HomePod TV experiment.
Loup Ventures conducted its annual test to see how popular voice assistants perform, and Apple’s Siri came in second behind Google Assistant.
It’s Amazon Prime Day, so that means you can get deals on tons of products, including the company’s own Echo product line.
Wyze just addressed one of the biggest requests from Wyze Cam users: Alexa voice control support. Firmware updates are available for the Wyze Cam v2 and Wyze Cam Pan that add Alexa support, along with a few bug fixes. The cameras are great for monitoring your home or business and include a microSD card slot so you can record activity without relying on cloud servers. They’re also surprisingly inexpensive at US$19.99 for the Wyze Cam v2 and $29.99 for the Wyze Cam Pan. You’ll need the Wyze mobile app to install the firmware update. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Wyze Skill for Alexa yet, so we still need to wait for that.
Sonos just added AirPlay 2 support to its speakers, making them the first third-party offering that can take advantage of Apple’s streaming audio platform.
Users who have trained themselves on Alexa Skills can now use that same self-training on their iPhones and iPads to access the Alexa ecosystem.
If you have an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-capable device you can explore HBO’s Westworld in a new game called Westworld: The Maze. It’s like a choose your own adventure game where you’re a Host looking for the center of the maze while trying to not let on that you’ve become self aware. It’s also like a trivia game because you have to answer questions about the series. You’ll need to enable the Westworld: The Maze skill, and then say “Alexa, open Westworld” to start playing.
Andrew Orr and John Martellaro join Jeff Gamet to discuss a report that says almost no one with a smart speaker uses it to control smart home devices, plus John explains why he thinks Apple is ready to release new Mac models.
An Apple Watch app called Voice in a Can is seeking to satisfy the desires of those who love Apple hardware but rely on Amazon Alexa for its home automation capabilities. As a standalone app, Voice in a Can runs entirely on the Apple Watch without needing to pair with the iPhone. With just a Wi-Fi or LTE connection you ask Alexa to control your home lights, unlock the door, or set your thermostat. However, since Apple prevents third party apps from replacing Siri, you can’t use Voice in a Can to have Alexa make calls or control the audio playback on your watch. It’s by no means a perfect solution, but it’s the best Alexa users have thus far until Amazon and Apple work out an official solution. Grab it now on the App Store for $1.99.
On Wednesday, Sonos summoned the press to San Francisco to take the wraps off Beam, a new, compact soundbar that brings HDMI and voice support to Sonos in the living room.
Bryan Chaffin and Andrew Orr join Jeff Gamet to share their thoughts on Amazon’s Alexa inadvertently recording a conversation and sending it to someone as a message, plus Andrew has a tip on a Music app alternative for the iPhone and iPad.