One of the most interesting 3rd-party Alexa devices to come out of CES 2019 is easily the new Lenovo Smart Tab line of Android tablets with an included speaker dock. They are the first 3rd-party tablets to use Amazon’s Show Mode feature with hands-free Alexa built-in, which essentially turns them into an Echo Show when docked. Unlike Amazon’s own Show Mode Dock for their Fire tablets, which is nothing more than a charging stand that triggers Show Mode, Lenovo has put Dolby Atmos speakers and 3 far-field microphones in the dock to make this a true alternative to the Echo Show. Read more ›
Amazon has announced a couple of big car navigation related partnerships for Alexa at CES 2019. The first is a partnership with Telenav, a connected car navigation platform. The second is a partnership with HERE Technologies, who’s navigation systems are in over 100 million cars. In both cases, Alexa will now be integrated into each companies future products. While this doesn’t directly affect consumers today, it means that Alexa will be found on many more car navigation systems in the near future as a baked-in component from the start. In the case of the HERE partnership, it also means Alexa will have access to much more mapping data, which will improve Alexa’s direction related queries outside of the car as well.
When Amazon gave developers access to Alexa through the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), they also released their voice assistant from the confines of the Amazon Echo with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS). Up until now, the former has received the most attention, with the release of over 100 Alexa Skills, but now the first manufacturer to use the latter to fully integrate Alexa into their device has arrived. Invoxia, makers of the Triby connected speaker for the kitchen, have announced that they’ll be the first third party manufacturer to integrate Alexa into their device. Triby is similar to the Amazon Echo in many ways, but also includes features focused on being the communication hub for your family with digital messaging capabilities, through its screen, and the ability to make internet calls to family members. Ford has also announced Alexa integration into their car’s infotainment systems, but Triby is positioned to be the first to bring Alexa integration to consumers. An update bringing Alexa to the device is expected to be released this Spring. From the Fire TV, to speakers like Triby, to cars, you can probably expect to hear about a lot more devices in 2016 integrating Alexa voice capabilities.
Ford’s CEO Mark Fields revealed in their CES keynote plans to integrate Amazon Alexa into future models. Owners of Ford cars featuring SYNC Connect technology will be able to ask Alexa on the Amazon Echo and Fire TV for information about the state of their car, like the current range. You’ll also be able to remotely start your Ford car by simply asking Alexa to do so.
Additionally, Ford cars will have full Amazon Alexa voice capabilities built-in. From inside a SYNC Connect equipped car, you will be able to issue Alexa commands remotely to your Alexa capable devices. With an Amazon Echo or Fire TV acting as a home automation hub, Alexa commands from Ford vehicles will be relayed to your Echo or Fire TV to control any number of smart home devices. All the Alexa capabilities available through the Echo or Fire TV will also be available through the voice system inside Ford cars. Alexa support in Ford cars will be available later this year. With Ford vehicles soon being able to relay Alexa voice commands, it’s almost certain the ability will also be coming to the Alexa app.
Alarm.com is a home monitoring service that is expanding into home automation. They released a Fire TV app last April which lets you view your Alarm.com security cameras, but now they’re adding Alexa voice control support. Their smart home capabilities include smart lighting which lets you link smart light bulbs from various manufacturers with the Alarm.com service to trigger lights based on events. An example they give is automatically turning on the lights when a motion sensor is tripped or when a door is unlocked. The first Alexa capability they’re adding is the ability to turn lights on and off through Alexa voice commands. This feature is already supported by Alexa by default without Alarm.com integration, but if you already have lights configured with Alarm.com’s system, you won’t have to seperatly configure them with Alexa. You would just be using Alexa as the voice input method for your Alarm.com setup. Alarm.com says their Alexa interface will launch early this year.