Amazon has given the Alexa app its first major redesign

Just in time for next week’s release of the new Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, and other new Alexa hardware, Amazon has just updated the Alexa app with a completly revamped interface. This is the first major overhaul that the app has ever received. The most notable change, other than the look and feel of the app, is a new device tab that makes it easier than ever to control all of your smart home devices from a single screen. Read more ›

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Alexa Hunches now alert you of smart home devices that you might have forgot about

Amazon has started rolling out a new optional Alexa feature, called Alexa Hunches, that allows the voice assistant to make suggestions about the current state of your smart home devices. For example, if you say “Good night” and you’ve forgotten to turn off a smart light that is usually off at night, Alexa will alert you and offer to turn the light off. If you say “Set alarm” on your way out and your backdoor smart lock is unlocked, Alexa will let you know. Read more ›

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Alexa’s new ‘Brief Mode’ has arrived in the UK and Germany

Amazon has started to roll out Alexa’s new “Brief Mode” feature to devices in the UK, Germany, and possibly other countries around the world. The feature, when enabled, causes Alexa to respond with a confirmation chime for simple requests, such as turning on lights, instead of responding with its usual “Okay” reply. The feature first arrived in the US back in March of this year. It has taken a while, but it is now also available in other countries. To turn the feature on or off, find it under the “Alexa Voice Responses” option in the Alexa app’s settings menu.

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Skype voice and video calling is coming to Amazon Echo devices

Amazon and Microsoft have announced that Skype calling is coming to Alexa. Amazon Echo smart speakers will be able to make Skype voice calls, while Echo Shows will also be able to make Skype video calls. Those who pay for SkypeOut will also be able to use Alexa to call mobile and landlines through Skype, although that funcitonality is already available for free directly through Alexa’s default calling capabillities. The integration will simply work by saying “Alexa, call [contact] on Skype.” Microsoft says it will arrive on Echo devices later this year.

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Amazon is now letting anyone make Alexa Gadgets

Amazon has announced the availability of the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, which will allow anyone to create accessories that pair and interact directly with Echo devices. Amazon first introduced the concept of Alexa Gadgets when they released their Echo Buttons about a year ago. Those buttons haven’t really taken off, but perhaps third-party manufacturers can come up with my successful accessories. Read more ›

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Amazon partners with Getty Images to include relevant pictures with Alexa responses

Amazon and Getty Images have announced a partnership that will bring Getty’s vast library of over 200 million assets to Alexa devices. Amazon will be displaying relevant images alongside Alexa responses on devices with a screen. The Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot are explicitly mentioned in the announcement, but we’ll likely see images appear on Fire TV devices and Show Mode on Fire Tablets as well. An example use case given is asking “Alexa, who won best Actress at tonight’s Academy Awards” and seeing a photo of the actress from the red carpet of that specific event along with the answer.

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Amazon will reportedly release Alexa subwoofer, amp, receiver, microwave, and more this year

Amazon is planning to release at least 8 new Alexa devices this year, according to a new report from CNBC. Among the devices is high-end audio equipment that includes a subwoofer, an amplifier, and a receiver that all include hands-free Alexa capabilities. Amazon is also said to be working on a new in-car Alexa gadget and an Alexa-enabled microwave. Read more ›

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Alexa Routine support will be coming to 3rd-party Alexa devices

Amazon has announced a new set of device manufacturer capabilities that will bring Alexa Routine support to 3rd-party Alexa devices. Alexa Routines allow customers to automate a series of actions using a single voice command. The new options available to manufacturers will not only allow non-Amazon made Alexa devices to run Alexa Routines, but they’ll also now be available to select as the “Alexa will respond from” device in the Alexa app. No support from 3rd-party manufacturers has been announced yet, but you can probably expect devices like the Eufy Genie, Ecobee 4, and Sonos One to add these new Alexa capabilities soon.

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Bose reveals new premium smart speaker and soundbars with hands-free Alexa

Bose has announced a series of new smart speakers and soundbars to challenge Sonos for the title of best Alexa-powered premium speakers. The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a $400 speaker that claims to have “the widest soundstage of any smart speaker available today.” The Bose Soundbar 500 and Soundbar 700 are $550 and $800, respectively, are sleek home theater speakers that are “engineered to outperform every other product in [their] category.” Read more ›

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Firefox and Silk Browser now let you control media playback by voice on Fire TVs — Works with YouTube

In the most recent updates to Firefox and the Silk Browser, both apps have added support for media playback control by voice. This allows customers to use voice commands to play videos, pause videos, and more while watching something, like YouTube, in a web browser on a Fire TV device. Read more ›

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