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  1. Alexa for Windows 10 adds Drop In support for video calls, fresh design, and more Amazon has rolled out a new update for its Alexa app for Windows 10 that introduces an entirely new look and a bunch of new features that expand capabilities for users. The updated app has added support for Drop In during a video call to let you connect with friends and family more quickly, among other features. The latest release brings with it a few improvements for the app's hands-free experience. If you're constantly listening to music via Spotify, Alexa for Windows 10 now
  2. Amazon’s Alexa can now act on its own hunches to turn off lights and more New updates bring proactive hunches and Guard Plus to the smart assistant Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge Amazon is enabling a new feature today that allows Alexa to proactively complete tasks around the house, such as turning off lights, based on your habits and frequent requests. Alexa has been able to sense these habits and ask about them since 2018 — the company calls them “hunches” — but before this
  3. Amazon Sidewalk is launching in the US as an opt-out feature that the company says will connect Echo and Ring doorbells to any nearby Alexa device, even those owned by your neighbors. Amazon says Sidewalk uses WiFi from neighbors to create "a shared network that helps devices work better," but some have raised privacy concerns. Amazon also apologized to Alexa owners outside the US, some of whom were notified of the US-only launch. Amazon customers are being automatically opted in to Sidewalk, a feature set to launch later this year that the company
  4. Amazon begins shifting Alexa’s cloud AI to its own silicon The amazon-designed Inferentia chips reduced cost and latency in text-to-speech. Amazon engineers discuss the migration of 80 percent of Alexa's workload to Inferentia ASICs in this three-minute clip. On Thursday, an Amazon AWS blogpost announced that the company has moved most of the cloud processing for its Alexa personal assistant off of Nvidia GPUs and onto its own Inferentia Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). Amazon dev Sebastien Stormacq describes the Inferentia's
  5. Amazon today announced a new Alexa feature for U.S.-based English-language users that enables devices powered by the assistant to infer latent goals, or goals implicit in requests but not directly expressed. For instance, if a user says “How long does it take to steep tea?,” Alexa might follow up with “Five minutes is a good place to start” and the question “Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?” According to Amazon, dialog transitions like these require a number of AI algorithms under the hood. A machine learning-based trigger model decides whether to ant
  6. Amazon is making your TV an even smarter screen. Three years after adding basic hands-free Alexa support on Fire TV devices, Amazon is finally taking things a step further. Previously, you could ask your Echo devices to play specific shows or open apps on Fire TV hardware. But with Amazon’s latest update, which starts rolling out this week, you’ll also be able to have content pop up on your TV with a new “show me” command. For example, you could just say “Alexa, show me the weather” or “show me my front door camera.”
  7. Amazon is set to launch new Echo and Alexa devices on September 24 "Alexa, set a reminder" (Image credit: Amazon) It's been a particularly busy September for tech launches, even without an iPhone 12, and there's plenty still to come: Amazon has revealed that it's holding a hardware launch event this coming Thursday, September 24. For now we won't know too much about what will be revealed, but the invite sent to the media mentions "Devices
  8. r.classen/Shutterstock I’ve had Alexa smart speakers for years. I bought them to make my smart home more convenient to use through voice controls. But now Alexa has me hopping mad. Why? She invaded my printer without asking my permission and started emailing me about ink. When does a voice assistant cross the line from convenience to nuisance? An (un)Welcome Email It all started with an innocuous email that I initially disregarded as some phishing attempt. “Thank you for connecting your HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 printer to Alexa. Alexa just made printing a wh
  9. When it was revealed last month that a team of Amazon workers were tasked with listening to and reviewing Echo customers’ recordings—including those that customers never intended to record—the news sparked a flurry of criticism and concern regarding what this meant for the average consumer’s privacy. At the same time, many were left unsurprised. Previous incidents, such as when an Amazon customer in Germany accidentally received someone else’s private Alexa recordings last year, have shown not only that the devices can record when least expected
  10. You're not the voice, try and understand it It'll do till the robo-slaves are ready SINCE I joined INQ, nearly seven years ago (can that be right?), one of my favourite areas has been the emergence of the "smart home", a realm previously the reserve of people with surnames like "Beckham" or "Blofeld". I've been doing a bit of an inventory of my smart home, which started with a couple of Z Wave sockets in 2014 and realised something. I, like a great many people, have been sucked into a complete bastardisation of what a smart home is. Because
  11. Microsoft to allow Alexa to integrate further into Windows 10 New changes coming later this year Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Microsoft is opening up Windows 10 even further to third-party digital assistants. In the next update to Windows 10, due in September, Microsoft will allow voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to activate on the lock screen. This change will allow third-party assistants to activate from wake words when a PC is locked and someone is shouting “Alexa” from across the room. It’s
  12. Amazon confirms it keeps your Alexa recordings basically forever The recordings, and their transcripts, never expire automatically. Enlarge / "Alexa, does my voice really sound like that?" Amazon If you (like so many of us) hate listening to recordings of your own voice, you may be in for an unpleasant future, as Amazon has confirmed it hangs on to every conversation you've ever had with an Alexa-enabled device until or unless you specifically delete them. That confirmation comes as a response to a li
  13. Amazon has tweaked the settings for its Alexa voice AI to allow users to opt out of their voice recordings being manually reviewed by the company’s human workers. The policy shift took effect Friday, according to Bloomberg, which reports that Alexa users will now find an option in the settings menu of the Alexa smartphone app to disable human review of their clips. The Alexa T&C did not previously inform users of the possibility that audio recordings captured by the service might be manually reviewed by actual humans. (Amazo
  14. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg’s privacy regulator has asked Amazon (AMZN.O) for information regarding its Alexa voice assistant, an indication of rising regulatory unease over companies’ use of personal data. The increasing popularity of Alexa, Apple’s (AAPL.O) Siri and Google (GOOGL.O) Assistant has triggered concerns from politicians and privacy enforcers over how some companies handle recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants. Apple and Google last week halted reviews of recordings. The Guardian said Apple’s contractors tasked with
  15. Amazon employees listen in to your conversations with Alexa A report suggests you may have eavesdroppers in your living room. Amazon is using a team of human staff to eavesdrop on queries made to Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers in a bid to improve the voice assistant's accuracy, a new report suggests. If you check out your Amazon Echo smart speaker's history via the Alexa app (Alexa account - > History), depending on where and when you
  16. HP updates Envy laptops with Alexa and webcam privacy switch The HP Envy 13 x360. Image: HP HP is updating its Envy line of laptops with new processors, a webcam privacy switch, and, in some cases, built-in support for Alexa. The Envy series sits one step below HP’s top-of-the-line laptops, offering slightly lesser specs for prices that are usually a few hundred dollars less. This year, there are four models: the Envy 13 x360 and Envy 15 x360, both of which can flip around into a tablet, and the Envy 13 Laptop and Envy 17 Laptop, which can
  17. Alexa takes control of Roku boxes and TVs Alexa keeps getting better and better. Now, she can control Roku set top boxes and TVs. The Alexa ecosystem keeps growing by virtue of Alexa's skills system. Vendors can add skills that perform different tasks or interface with smart home hardware. I use an Alexa skill integrated with Philips' Hue bulbs, another Alexa skill that talks to Samsung's SmartThings hub, one that connects to my Nest thermostats, and one that connects to TP-Link's smart sockets.
  18. Amazon redesigns the Alexa app to highlight first-party features Amazon has launched a new design for the Alexa app, promising a more personalized user experience and giving first-party features a prominent place on the home screen. By doing so, some third-party skill suggestions have been put on the backburner. Before, the Alexa button used to sit at the bottom center of the home screen. The updated Alexa app now moves that dedicated button to the top of the screen where the date and weather updates were previously situated. The redesign makes it easier to s
  19. An Alexa Bug Could Have Exposed Your Voice History to Hackers Amazon has patched the flaw, but its discovery underscores the importance of locking down your voice assistant interactions. Attackers could also have installed a malicious skill to steal even more data.Photograph: Olly Curtis/Future Publishing/Getty Images Smart-assistant devices have had their share of privacy missteps, but they're generally considered safe enough for most people
  20. Have you ever wondered how often your smart speaker accidentally activates itself? A study from Northeastern University tried to find out. No one likes it when a stranger butts into their conversation. Especially when they interrupt with some astonishing non-sequitur. You're watching TV and chatting about the painfully demanding couple on House Hunters International when a distant voice pipes up: "The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles." It's Apple's Siri, of course. Or Amazon's Alexa. Or whatever you call your Google Home pe
  21. If you've fallen and you can't get up, your smart assistant is probably not the best way to ask for help. A new study from the University of Alberta, published Tuesday in the medical journal The BMJ, tested smart assistants Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant on their ability to respond helpfully to first aid questions. While Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa way outperformed Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana, the results as a whole were underwhelming. The researchers asked all of the smart assistants 123 questions on 39 first aid topics such as
  22. Amazon Alexa could be coming to millions more devices Alexa-built in devices now require just 1MB of RAM (Image credit: Shutterstock.com) Amazon is making it easier for hardware makers to add Alexa to millions more products. The company had revealed it is lowering the hardware requirements and enabling devices with very low-powered chips and just 1MB of RAM to run Alexa Voice Service. Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enables developers to access cloud-based Alexa capabilities with the sup
  23. Alexa may be the key to solving an already somewhat bizarre Florida case where a woman was killed by a spear with a footlong blade to the chest. Police have secured a search warrant for recordings from an Amazon Echo and Echo Dot in the home, which they believe may have witnessed the possible murder, according to the Sun Sentinel. The incident in question happened back in July: Sylvia Galva Crespo, 32, died in her Hallandale Beach, Florida, home after a mysterious accident left her stabbed through the chest with a spear inexplicably already in the apartment. At
  24. Researchers hack Siri, Alexa, and Google Home by shining lasers at them MEMS mics respond to light as if it were sound. No one knows precisely why. Enlarge Sugawara et al. 32 with 31 posters participating, including story author Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are vulnerable to attacks that use lasers to inject inaudible—and sometimes invisible—commands into the devices and surreptitiously cause them to unlock doors, visit websites,
  25. Alexa is gaining more humanlike speech — and learning to understand multiple languages at once. Starting today, Amazon’s launching a multilingual mode that can automatically detect both Spanish and English in the U.S., French and English in Canada, and Hindi and English in India. It’s akin to the multilingual mode Google rolled out for Google Assistant in August. Currently, select Google Assistant devices can speak a combination of English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, with more languages to come. Additionally, Amazon is rolling out celeb
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