Why Apple Should Eventually Build Family Service Robots

· John Martellaro · 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

· Jeff Butts · 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

· Jeff Gamet · 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

· Jeff Gamet · 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.

The Thinking Behind a Female Voice for Siri

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

Apple's Siri is a strong contender

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.

Who's More Intelligent, Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa?

· Jeff Butts · Editorial

Which AI is smarter, Siri or Alexa?

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.

Apple and Worker Visas, HomeKit Falls Behind in the Smarthome Game - TMO Daily Observations 2017-01-31

· Jeff Gamet · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Daily Observations Podcast Logo

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 App Lets You Order with Your Voice

· Jeff Gamet · Cool Stuff Found

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.

Starbucks App Lets You Order with Your Voice

How to Make Your Amazon Echo Respond to 'Computer' Instead of 'Alexa'

· Jeff Gamet · News

Amazon Echo Dot responding to

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.

Christmas Morning with Your Two Favorite Geeks – Mac Geek Gab 637

· John F. Braun & Dave Hamilton · Mac Geek Gab Podcast

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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, Astra for iPhone - TMO Daily Observations 2016-12-16

· Jeff Gamet · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Daily Observations Podcast Logo

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.