Toshiba reveals its first Fire TV Smart TV with hands-free Alexa voice control

As promised when Amazon announced its own hands-free Fire TV Smart TVs, Toshiba has revealed it’s first flagship TV with hands-free Alexa capabilities that can be controlled by voice, without needing to pick up the remote. The Toshiba M550 Series TVs, as they are called, feature an array of 4 microphones, a physical mute switch, and multi-color LED indicator lights along the bottom center to communicate if the TV is muted or listening as a result of hearing its wake word. The 4K TVs, which will be available in 55, 65, and 75-inch sizes, feature LED backlighting with full-array local dimming and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR content. Read more ›

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Alexa can now move playing music from one device to another

Amazon has added the ability to move music playing on one Alexa device to another. Simply say “Alexa, move my music to [Destiniation Device Name]” stop the music that is playing and start it up on the destination device. Alternatively, you can say “Alexa, pause” to the device that is playing music and then say “Alexa, resume music here” to the device that you want to pick up music playback. This also works on Echo Buds and Echo Auto if you want to switch from listening at home to your on-the-go devices. The capability isn’t limited to music, as you can move and resume podcasts and radio stations as well. Just use commands like “Alexa, move my podcast…” or “Alexa, resume radio…” when relevant.

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Amazon releases new Smart Air Quality Monitor that works with Alexa

Amazon has been on a bit of an Alexa Gadget kick related to health. A few months ago we saw the release of a Smart Soap Dispenser that pairs up with Alexa to ensure you and your loved ones are washing for the full recommended 20 seconds. Now, Amazon has announced a new Smart Air Quality Monitor that also works with Alexa to keep track of particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), humidity, and temperature in your home. Read more ›

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Amazon to discontinue Alexa email integration on November 8th

Amazon has started informing customers that Alexa’s ability to manage emails will end on November 8th, 2021. The feature, which was added at the end of 2018, allowed customers to link Gmail, Hotmail, and Outlook email accounts in the Alexa app. Once linked, you could say “Alexa, read my email” to hear a list of your most recent emails. Then, you could ask for an email to be read, deleted, archived, and several other actions including replying to an email by voice. It’s unclear why Amazon is discontinuing the feature, but it did require Amazon to constantly check and store a copy of your emails on its servers, which could certainly be a burden if the feature was seldom used, not to mention the privacy and security concerns that doing so entails. As a byproduct, Alexa will also no longer be able to provide package tracking updates for non-Amazon deliveries, since that feature was only possible by linking your email account. Receiving Amazon delivery updates by saying “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” will continue to work, as will calendar access. Customers who have linked their email accounts with Alexa don’t need to do anything, as the email accounts will be unlinked automatically.

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You can now say “Play Something on Netflix” to your Fire TV

Amazon has announced that the voice command “Play Something on Netflix” is now available on Fire TV devices in the US and Canada. Saying the command, either to the remote microphone or hands-free to Alexa on a Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Omni Smart TV, should begin playing something that Netflix thinks you’ll enjoy, making it the quickest way to start watching anything on a Fire TV. This was one of the new upcoming Fire TV features that Amazon teased last month. I tried the voice command myself and, while Alexa seems to indicate it understood the command by responding “Getting something from Netflix,” all that happened is the Netflix app opened. So, it seems like the feature is still in the process of rolling out and may not be available to everyone just yet.

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Alexa can now give you more time to finish speaking with its new Adaptive Listening Mode

Amazon has added a new feature called Adaptive Listening to Alexa devices, as reported by The Verge. Once enabled, Alexa will give you more time to finish speaking before it starts to respond to you. This will surely be handy for those with speech impediments but will also be nice for anyone who finds that Alexa cuts in mid-sentence when they’re just pausing for a second before completing their request. Read more ›

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Sling TV is coming to all Amazon Echo Show devices

During the reveal of the Echo Show 15 yesterday, Amazon announced that subscribers to Sling TV would soon be able to watch the streaming service on Echo Show devices. Amazon confirmed that all Echo Show models would be able to access the streaming service but has not provided a timeframe for when support would arrive. Read more ›

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Amazon Echo and Echo Show 10 will soon be able to process all voice requests locally

During today’s big Amazon event, where numerous new Alexa devices were revealed, an interesting new capability to existing devices was announced. Amazon announced that the 4th-generation Amazon Echo and the 3rd-generation Echo Show 10 will soon be able to process all voice requests locally on the device without needing to send any recordings to the cloud. This is a pretty feature and one that has not been achieved by any smart speaker. Read more ›

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Amazon Astro is a new home assistant robot that costs $1,000

The long-rumored Amazon Alexa robot has been announced as the Amazon Astro, a three-wheeled home assistant robot that will initially cost $999.99. The dog-sized device is the culmination of all of Amazon’s efforts in smart assistants, AI, robotics, and home security. Read more ›

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Alexa app can now auto-upload mobile photos for use in Fire TV & Echo Show screensavers

Amazon has added the option to automatically upload photos from your phone in the Alexa app. Enabling the option will save your photos on Amazon Photos, where Prime members get unlimited storage and non-Prime members get 5GB of storage. The reason for doing so is so that your photos can be displayed in the screensavers of Alexa devices, like Fire TVs and Echo Shows. A “Daily Memories” option can be enabled to automatically display a new curated set of your photos every day. To enable the option, open the Alexa app on your phone and go to More > Settings > Photos. To enable Daily Memories through the Alexa app, go to Devices > Echo & Alexa > select your Fire TV or Echo > Screensaver.

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