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.
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.
With Alexa Show and Microsoft Invoke, Bryan and Jeff envision the Siri smarthome of the future to make the case for an Apple Siri device. They also talk about what Apple might do with sleep tracking technology from Beddit, as well some sexy new renders of Apple’s unannounced iPhone 8.
The just announced Echo Show isn’t the only device in Amazon’s lineup getting voice calling support. A new feature dubbed Alexa Calling is coming to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Alexa mobile app today. For now, the calling features are limited to the Echo lineup and Alexa app, but that could be the first step in turning the devices into speaker phones fro our homes.
Amazon unveiled its Echo Show, and it has a display. Bryan Chaffin and the Maccast’s Adam Christianson join Jeff Gamet to share their reactions to Amazon’s newest Alexa device. They also have some thoughts on the unintended confirmation that the FBI paid $900,000 for the San Bernardino iPhone hack, plus Bryan coins “I’m gonna up that up.”
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.
Will Apple release an Alexa-like device as a Siri-powered hub? Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join Dave Hamilton to discuss how wrong the latter two are. They also chew over Apple’s escalating royalty battle with Qualcomm.
At first glance, the technically and logically minded person would wonder why Amazon thinks that an AI like Alexa, within the new Echo Look, peering into your bedroom and making clothing recommendations would be a hit product. But then one has to understand the psychology of the product. At that point, all becomes clear.
If you remember fondly the old days of passing files around by “sneakernet,” or using floppy disks, you might be amused at what Jeff Butts has discovered. Floppy disk drives and the diskettes you need for them are still widely available from at least one retailer.
There they are. The five tech giants: Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. FGAMA. They’re all doing well. But if one had to predict which one won’t be around in 50 years, which one would it be?
John humbly predicts.
The education market is very price sensitive. Three players are in a pitched battle for the right-priced personal computer: Apple (iOS), Google (Chrome OS + Android), and Microsoft (Windows 10 Cloud). These OSes and their implementation on hardware, plus the right kind of marketing and staying power, could determine which company seizes the hearts and minds of schools and students.
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.
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.
Home virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and to a lesser extent, Apple’s Siri, are loved by some and feared by others. Here at TMO, our staff falls on both sides of that line. Most of us love Amazon’s Echo/Dot/Alexa, while I personally hold my nose at the underlying technology and fear its potential for home surveillance. I should add that most of our staff also think I’m flat out wrong. Note that I’m OK with that. Of all the virtual assistant companies, only Apple has a stated position of protecting our privacy, but the company also hasn’t released hardware like Amazon Echo or Dot. Online comic strip XKCD took a snarky, succinct— and yet oblique—look at the subject. I’d love to know what our readers think.
Our artificial intelligence agents can either be embedded in our computers and/or mobile devices. Or they can reside in a cute little colorful cylinder that sits on a table. Which is better? Which is the future? Which should you invest in? Maybe Siri knows.
A cool website called BookBub offers eBook recommendations. You can choose from a variety of book genres you’re interested in, including Mysteries, Thrillers and Action; Romance; Fiction; Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror; Teen and Young Readers; and Nonfiction. BookBub specifically suggests eBooks that are on sale. I’ve used BookBub for a couple of years, and I’ve gotten eBooks as low as US$0.99. It displays eBooks from Amazon, Google Play and iBooks. BookBub has an iOS app, but that version only shows iBooks offerings. If you sign up via the website, you’ll also see Amazon and Google offerings. After you select the genres you like, you can get a daily email with eBook deals.