Amazon’s Alexa can now play music for your alarm

Amazon has added music alarms to Alexa. For all Alexa devices that support alarms, which include all the Echo devices but does not include Fire TV devices, you can select a song or type of music to be played when the alarm goes off, instead of the alarm sound being played. The feature works with all of the supported music services available through Alexa, which include Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, SiriusXM, and iHeartRadio. Read more ›

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Alexa can now play music by similarity, geographic region, recency, and date

Amazon’s Alexa has many different ways for you to request just the right music. Now it has gained a few new advanced music commands that might come in handy. These new commands let you request music similar to other tracks, music that is popular in a particular part of the world, and music that you’ve played in the past but can’t exactly remember. Read more ›

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GE’s snazzy “C by GE Sol” lamp with Alexa built-in is on sale for $104.99 through Alexa voice shopping

The stylish but strangely named C by GE Sol light fixture is currently available for $104.99 when purchased through an Alexa device. That’s 30% its regular price of $149.99 and just $5 more than the lowest price it has ever been. This lamp is essentially an Echo Dot with a large LED light in the shape of a ring attached to the top. Other current similar Alexa shopping deals include The TP-Link Smart Plug Mini for $22.73 and the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit for $119.92.

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Muse Alexa car adapter available for $35 in limited quantity

Muse is a $50 device that adds hands-free Alexa to any car by using your phones data connection and car speakers. It launched on Indiegogo last month and has managed to earn over $70,000 from over 1,000 backers. The people behind the device contacted me to thank me for writing about their product. They will be sending me a Muse to review when it’s released later this month, so look for that review in the coming weeks. They provided me this special link that allows the first 30 people interested to pre-order the Muse at a discounted price of $35. If you’re interested, have at it. Other than being promised a review unit, I am not being paid or given anything to publish this post, nor do I receive anything if you purchase the product. They simply offered the discount, so I’m passing it along because it looks like an interesting device that I figured some of you might be interested in.

Update

#1 It looks like Muse is increasing the number of units available at the discounted price. It’s currently at 47 of 60 purchased. I do not know if it will increase beyond 60.
#2 Muse told me they’ll continue to honor the deal for my readers and move inventory from other tiers as needed.

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Alexa can now translate words from English to several languages

If you’ve ever been home and wanted to know how to say something in a different language, now you can ask Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant now has the native ability to translate words and phrases from English to multiple languages, such as Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Italian. Just say “Alexa, translate [word / phrase] into [language]” to hear the translation. On the Fire TV and Echo Show, the translation is also displayed in text for the requested language. Alexa uses Bing Translator for native translations and will automatically launch the Translated skill for languages it doesn’t support.

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Alexa can now be set to only access your calendar if it recognizes your voice

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant can alter its responses to certain requests if it’s able to identify the speaker as a person it recognizes. One of those alterations is only allowing shopping orders to be placed by recognized voices. Amazon has now expanded that capability to include restricting access to your calendar if the person making the request is not recognized. Read more ›

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Amazon’s Alexa can now schedule meetings with specific people and notify them by email

A staple of any good virtual assistant has to be calendar management. Amazon’s Alexa gained the ability to read Google Calendar entries early on and followed it up later with the ability to add events to Google Calendar. Those capabilities were later expanded to support Outlook.com, Office 365, Google G Suite, and Apple iCloud calendars. Now they’ve been taken a step further with the new ability to schedule meetings with specific people, along with the option to notify the person by email of the newly scheduled event. Read more ›

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Bravo, CBS, Hulu, NBC, Showtime, and PlayStation Vue apps can now be controlled by voice on the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon told us that more apps would be updated to allow voice control through Alexa’s new entertainment capabilities and now it has happened. The latest versions of the Bravo, CBS, Hulu, NBC, Showtime, and PlayStation Vue apps for Fire TV devices can now be controlled through Alexa, using either a stand-alone Echo device or the Alexa voice remote. You can start shows and movies, control playback, and tune to channels without lifting a finger. Read more ›

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Alexa Skills will soon be able to distinguish individual people by their voice

Last month, Amazon made it possible for Alexa devices to recognize individual users by their voice. This made it possible for Echo devices to tailor their responses for individual people, such as playing music specific to a person’s taste, or not asking for a PIN when a recognized user is voice shopping. According to TechCrunch, Amazon will soon make their voice recognition technology available to Alexa Skill developers so that they too can distinguish one person from another in order to customize a users experience. Read more ›

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Alexa can now change channels and control playback in PlayStation Vue on the Fire TV

The PlayStation Vue app on the Amazon Fire TV has just been updated with deeper Alexa voice integration. Simalar to how Alexa can now directly start Netflix content, you can now use voice commands to jump directly into a channel, as well as several common playback controls. Read more ›

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