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Old Today, 09:10 AM   #3106
tubemonkey
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Alexa is Now Even Smarter—New Features Help Make Everyday Life More Convenient, Safe, and Entertaining

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Alexa now knows how to do millions of things, including new capabilities across Routines, Music, Smart Home, Home Monitoring, Alexa Calling, Amazon FreeTime on Alexa and more

All new Alexa features begin rolling out to select new and existing Echo devices in the coming months
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SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 20, 2018-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Alongside a new lineup of Echo devices, Amazon today introduced new Alexa features that help make life even more convenient, safe, and entertaining. New capabilities include entertainment features like left-right stereo pairing, TIDAL, and Amazon Music New Release Notifications; productivity features like email management, step-by-step cooking, and location-based Routines; smart home and home monitoring features like Alexa Guard, Hunches, and Local Voice Control; and FreeTime on Alexa features like kid-focused Routines, podcasts, new skills, and more.

“The Alexa service is always getting smarter, whether you’re using the Echo you bought three years ago or an Echo Show you buy tomorrow. We have thousands of engineers and scientists inventing on behalf of customers, and today we’re excited to introduce even more features to help make customers’ lives simpler, safer, and more convenient,” said Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa. “Soon customers will be able to manage their email, easily secure their home, watch the shows they love on Echo Show, and make their daily routines more productive—all just by asking Alexa.”

“Over the past year we’ve made incredible scientific advances in Alexa’s Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). We have applied deep neural networks to advance Alexa's ability to detect challenging acoustic phenomena such as whispered speech and anomalous events like glass breaking; made breakthroughs in combining transfer learning and deep learning to teach Alexa new languages and capabilities faster; improved contextual understanding and added memory to help customers discover skills and ask follow-up questions more naturally; and used active learning and unsupervised learning to improve foundational wake word detection, speech recognition, and natural language understanding,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist, Amazon Alexa. “We’ve only scratched the surface of A.I.-powered inventions and we’ll continue to invent ways to make Alexa more useful for our customers.”
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Old Today, 09:40 AM   #3107
Alohamora
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Originally Posted by OtinG View Post
This is probably the most unnecessary Alexa device to date. Most newer cars come with BT capable radios and you can hook up you smartphone to them via BT rather than a stupid, ugly, black box with wires. My lower end Rav4 has a built in handsfree phone app that works with my iPhone and can read text messages to me. When I turn on the radio it streams SiriusXM via my iPhone. Unless someone is still driving their old 1980 Yugo, I seriously doubt they would need this device. Even lower end car stereo systems come with everything this device has.
This is the most interesting of the new devices to me. My car has Car play and Android Auto support built in, but both have fallen short on doing what I want them to do. If Alexa's voice recognition can get along with me, this might work better for me.

I don't feel any compelling need to talk to my gadgets at home, but voice control that actually works in the car, now that would be a dream come true.

My biggest concern though is what happens when you loose cell signal? Does it become useless?
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Old Today, 10:24 AM   #3108
OtinG
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Originally Posted by CRussel View Post
No, you miss the point. They don't care WHAT you use as the music source -- they're perfectly happy to stream Pandora or whatever. Same with Video. What they want to own is "the last mile" in a streaming sense. Just as they do for everything else they sell. So they started out with physical books. Then added physical music CDs. Then more and more dedicated stores within the Amazon framework. Then they added third party vendors and gave them the promise of warehousing and a secure selling portal with LOTS of traffic. Then they added vendors who don't use the warehouse, but do use the portal. All the same to them, they make their cut regardless. Now they want to do the same for streaming.
Well with due respect, I'm not missing the point. Amazon does allow other streaming services, but none are allowed the whole suite of support like Amazon Music is, and none are all that well served by Amazon. Amazon's Alexa support for all the music streaming services I have tried, and that is quite a few, is dismal and just simply sputters on occasions. It is not that reliable nor that feature rich. It actually sucks in my opinion. To get a decent service to work on Alexas is, well, not possible unless you can accept dropped connections, hit and miss lyrics support, or even no lyrics support, etc. I can get much better service for Spotify, SiriusXM, etc. via a tablet, smartphone, or computer than I can through Alexa devices, and definitely better sound. I have no doubt that Amazon would love to dominate the music streaming marketplace, but I just don't see that happening with their current service levels. They need to make a lot of improvements.

As far as Amazon wanting to control the marketplace, well, welcome to capitalism. Capitalism can be a great thing, but it can also be really ugly when there are not enough controls on it. The era of mom and pop stores is long over, it has been replaced by giant businesses who dominate their marketplaces. It isn't just Amazon. Every month when I pay my bills I get angry with utility companies that can charge what they want, angry with cable TV companies who can do the same because they have the exclusive rights to my town, angry at the water/sewer company that also has exclusive rights to my town, angry with a natural gas company that dominates my entire state, angry with my cellular service provider which can charge whatever it wants too, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, Amazon is just one of the many bigger companies that can and do try to dominate their marketplace. It would be a challenge to find a big business like Amazon that doesn't try to dominate its marketplace. I'm just glad that they don't sell our information to the highest bidder like Google does, as far as I know anyway. I long ago accepted the fact that if you want certain services these days, you have to deal with some shady characters, like it or not. I miss the mom and pop shop days, but to be honest, even though I'm 60 years old I barely remember that era as it was already being supplanted by Sears, Montgomery Wards, JC Pennys, etc., who were then supplanted by Walmart, who is now being supplanted by Amazon, and the evolution continues...
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Old Today, 10:35 AM   #3109
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Originally Posted by Alohamora View Post
This is the most interesting of the new devices to me. My car has Car play and Android Auto support built in, but both have fallen short on doing what I want them to do. If Alexa's voice recognition can get along with me, this might work better for me.

I don't feel any compelling need to talk to my gadgets at home, but voice control that actually works in the car, now that would be a dream come true.

My biggest concern though is what happens when you loose cell signal? Does it become useless?
I hope it works out well for you and everyone who uses this new product. Alexa can be difficult at times, as we have found out, but mostly she works. Unfortunately, she does require an internet connection (via WiFi, or Ethernet, or cellular), so yes she will quit working on the current devices she is installed within if the internet connection is lost. However, we don't yet know if perhaps Amazon has enabled Alexa to complete a few commands without internet connection in this new device. Maybe they have. Apple requires Siri to have an internet connection for most of her functionality, but she can operate some of the device controls even without internet because they have built in to her that ability. Hopefully Amazon did that with this new device. It would make sense since it is a mobile device, but I don't know if they did. However, even if she can control the car radio without internet, she will lose the music stream from whatever source you choose to use because those will still require internet.
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Old Today, 10:51 AM   #3110
OtinG
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That's a pretty common model these days for many of the DVR-type offerings, to have the media server separate from the viewing clients. I guess if you're an all-Amazon household with fire TVs, it could be attractive.

I'd consider one like that if it had a Roku channel, if it was cheap enough.
Unfortunately there isn't really much available yet in OTA DVR devices. Makes you miss the 1980s and those crappy VCRs! Most of the models I've seen cost at least as much as the Amazon new model, and many require a pricey monthly fee for the ability to schedule recordings. TiVo charges $15/month for their programming schedule service, for example. Amazon is apparently providing a free programming schedule service, so that is a plus. Many don't offer any programming schedule service. So this Amazon device might be worth the money for some people. However, most of the streaming services like Sling, Hulu TV, and DirecTV Now offer cloud recording for local OTA programming but only for those channels they stream. Amazon's device won't record non-OTA programming though due to licensing and contractual issues. So it will only be good for recording what you can receive locally over an antenna. This is true for the TiVo and other OTA DVR devices too. I'm not sure if any of the OTA DVR devices can record streaming or cable or Satellite services for a fee, but I doubt it. I did hear that Spectrum will allow users to record their cable TV programming on an Apple TV later this year, so maybe some of the other service providers will start to open up to allowing us to record programming via 3rd party devices rather than paying rent on their boxes. Time will tell.

Last edited by OtinG; Today at 10:55 AM.
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