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Amazon Delivering Fire HD Tablet Update to Allow Alexa Drop-ins and Announcements

Amazon is beginning to deliver an update to its latest Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets that bring them into the full communication fold for Alexa-enabled devices. The update being circulated now brings Drop-in and Announcement capability to the tablets. Prior to the update, Fire tablet owners could only initiate calls – which is still pretty cool in its own right. As usual, Amazon stages the update rollout, so if you don’t see it right away just wait longer.    

Apple Music Playing on Amazon Echo Alexa-enabled Devices Starting December 17

Amazon wants everything to work with its Alexa voice platform. Announced today, Echo devices will be able to play Apple Music starting the week of December 17, 2018. “Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa—since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices. “We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top-tier services. We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music – one of the most popular music services in the US – to Echo customers this holiday.”    

Big Mouth Billy Bass with Alexa is a Real Thing – Starts Shipping on December 1st

What was just a silly attempt at giving the old Bill Bass an Alexa voice on YouTube has turned into a real thing. now has the Big Mouth Billy Bass on sale for around $40.00. Pre-order now and it will ship on December 1, 2018 and arrive just in time for a good old-fashioned hillbilly Christmas. On Big Mouth Billy Bass – Compatible with Alexa Features: Big mouth Billy bass is back and better than ever. Everyone’s favorite talking and singing fish is now programmed to respond to Alexa voice commands. Pair big mouth Billy bass with your preferred device in the Echo family and let the fun begin. Responds to Alexa voice commands Lip syncs with Alexa spoken responses Responds to inquiries about the weather, your commute, the news, random facts, and more Reacts to time...

ROAV Adds Drop-in and Calling Support for Its Alexa-enabled In-car Device

We reviewed the ROAV VIVA device by Anker a while back, and actually still use it constantly for mobile Alexa capabilities. It’s a brilliant device. At the time of the review, it supported all Alexa features except Calling and Messaging. Most non-Amazon devices suffered the same drawback, but the company opened up its API recently allowing third-parties to also take advantage of this feature. The device would allow calling, but it used the cell phone connection instead of Alexa device-to-device support. A recent update to the software and a firmware update for the device has given it the ability to call other Alexa devices or to drop-in to your Alexa devices at home. This makes a great device even better, giving it the full breadth of capability and making it arguably the best in-car...

Fire TV Cube Leads Amazon’s Black Friday Deals with $60 Off

If you’re interested in giving the gift of entertainment this holiday season, Amazon is drastically cutting its prices for the Fire TV lineup. Black Friday isn’t quite here yet, but Amazon is already offering marked-down prices. Here’s what’s up: Fire TV Cube – $60 off! Priced now at just $59.99. This is Amazon’s all-in-one entertainment gadget that includes Alexa voice control and the ability to control all your connected devices. Fire TV Stick 4K with all-new Alexa Voice Remote – Normally $49.99, now just $34.99. This new edition of the 4K model comes with an enhanced remote control that includes extra buttons for controlling attached gadgets like a TV, DVR, sound equipment, etc. Fire TV Stick with 1st Gen Alexa Voice Remote – At just $24.9...

Tip: Using Skype with an Amazon Echo Device

Amazon has recently begun the rollout of Skype capability for Alexa-enabled devices. The capability will be available for the following devices: Amazon Echo 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Plus 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Dot 2nd, 3rd Generation Amazon Show 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Spot   To make this work on the supported devices, you need to first enable it and connect your Microsoft account. The option can be found in the Alexa mobile app or the web app at: Settings > Communication > Skype        Examples of things you can say: “Alexa, Skype Mom” “Alexa, call Mom on Skype” “Alexa, call Dad’s mobile on Skype” Those that choose to set it up and link Skype with Alexa will get 100 minutes of free calls per month for two months. More...

Amazon Gives Alexa Control Over Magic Packets for Wake on Lan Capability

Amazon today has announced a new capability for Alexa. This particular capability is important for consumer devices, but even IT Pros that manage large fleets of computers should recognize the immediate value here. We’re excited to introduce the Wake-on-LAN Controller, which enables customers to use Alexa to power on smart devices which have gone into a low power mode and cannot be woken up via the cloud. Now, whenever a customer wants to power on a smart device, typically a TV or other entertainment equipment, that has gone into low power mode using only voice, they can simply say, “Alexa, turn on my TV.” The associated smart home skill then uses the Wake-on-LAN Controller to send a directive to a customer’s Echo devices, resulting in a Wake-on-LAN (WoL) packet being broadcast over ...

Amazon’s Live TV DVR with Alexa is Available Today

Amazon’s announced Fire TV Recast is now finally available for shipment. Amazon is promising free delivery by Friday if you order it today. There are two versions of this device. And, the price between them is extremely nominal – just a $50 difference. 2 tuners, 500 GB, 75 hours of storage (With 2 tuners, you can record up to 2 shows at once) – $229.99 4 tuners, 1 TB, 150 hours of storage (With 4 tuners, you can record up to 4 shows at once) – $279.99 Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV at home or on-the-go with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device—with no monthly fees. Watch and record live sports, local news, late night shows, and other can’t miss TV from channels available through an HD antenna (sold separately) lik...

Tip: Have Alexa Notify You When Your Favorite Artist Has New Music

Amazon has further combined its Alexa voice companion and its Music service by allowing customers to follow their favorite artists and be notified when they release new music. This capability requires a couple things: You have notifications turned on for Alexa using the Alexa mobile app You have the Amazon Music app installed and notifications turned on there   To follow an artist, just say… “Alexa, follow <artist name>” Alexa will confirm you are following the artist. This works just like other notifications. The Echo ring will turn yellow and you need to ask “Alexa, what are my notifications?”  

Tip: Use Echo Buttons with an Alexa Routine

Amazon has now added the capability to use its Echo Buttons to kick-off actions for its Routines. [1] To create a Routine that includes an Echo Buttons, go to Settings – Routines. [2] Create a new Routine. [3] Add a “When this happens” action and choose Echo Button. After you complete the Routine, you will be able to kick-off the actions using the Echo Button selected during the setup.      

Amazon Delivers Alexa for All Windows 10 PCs

Microsoft and Amazon’s partnership originally began as a promise to make Cortana and Alexa work together. Though the functionality has been slow moving, most can now use Cortana to kick off an Alexa session on their Windows 10 PC and on Xbox. There are even specific manufacturer laptops that have Alexa integrated directly with the hardware. Now, Amazon has finally delivered a full-featured, official Alexa client for Windows 10 PCs. Available in the Windows Store today: Alexa for PCs The convenience of Alexa, now on your PC. With Alexa on your PC you can simplify your life and use your voice to get more done. Just tap and ask Alexa to check your calendar, create lists, play music, answer questions, read the news and more. Alexa on your PC even makes it easy to control your smart home ...

Alexa Mobile App Update Brings a New Feature and a Relocated Activity Screen

Amazon is rolling out an update for its Alexa mobile app that brings some new functionality and relocates the activity history. Prior to this update, whenever you opened the app, the activity history page, along with information cards, were the first thing to see. Now, a brand new Daily Updates screen is launched when the app is run. And, you can always come back to view the Daily Updates using the card stack icon at the bottom of the screen.        Looking for the old-style Activity history? You can still find it under the Settings menu: Settings – Activity