Amazon aims to make Alexa assistant bigger part of users' lives


Amazon's new Echo Auto can make any vehicle Alexa-enabled, but certain automakers are also baking the assistant into their cars.

The Echo Auto uses the same eight-microphone array as the Echo Show, which Amazon claims is robust enough to hear voice commands above typical in-car noises like music or air conditioning fans. Amazon, on the other hand, will make sure that Cortana users will be able to interact with numerous Alexa skills built by third-party developers.

When Alexa is told "corn on the cob", a digital Echo speaker starts an AmazonBasics microwave oven in a faux home demonstration room, setting the preferred time and voicing what it is doing. There's a built-in Ask Alexa button; press it and say something like "two minutes and 30 seconds on medium". You can also get the new Echo Sub for even better sound. Last month, it released an Alexa Auto Software Development Kit to make it easier for programmers to build Alexa into automotive infotainment systems. It has also learned to understand whispers.

This Alexa Cortana integration is in its basic stage, but users in certain places around the world can try it as the new features are being added to both the systems. For example, when a user bids Alexa a good night, it might respond by mentioning they forgot to lock a door.

As you interact with your smart home, Alexa learns more about your day-to-day usage and can sense when connected smart devices such as lights, locks, switches, and plugs are not in the state that you prefer. The Echo Link Amp also includes a 60W, 2-channel amplifier as well as left-right speaker binding post outputs that supports direct connections to passive and non-powered speakers. The newest version of the speaker will feature a 10-inch HD display, fabric body, and improved sound. Ford, BMW and Toyota have also been adding Alexa to their cars, and we expect more manufacturers to follow.

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US giants don't bother with the creative safety precautions because they're interested in vacuuming up as much customer data as possible, and they figure consumers will snap up their gadgets anyway, thanks mainly to their next-to-unlimited marketing resources. Now it has brought a new device called the Ring Stick Up Camera that is available in both wired and battery-operated versions.

"Amazon is doubling down on its strategy of integrating Alexa far and wide into appliances, consumer electronics and cars", CCS Insight research vice president Geoff Blaber said at the event.

You can set your Echo device to away mode before leaving the house by saying "Alexa, I'm leaving", and Alexa will listen for sounds like breaking glass or smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.

Apart from the privacy shutter, we have yet to learn what assurances the Facebook Portal has to offset the privacy concerns. Thursday's smallest but most intriguing new product was the Echo Auto, which brings Alexa microphones and commands into the vehicle. One of those is Tile, with Siri now joining Alexa and Google Assistant in being able to locate your lost keys (again).