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Alexa

Alexa Voice Support with the TP-Link Smart Plug Mini

I have several Alexa-enabled home automation products on the way to begin a slow, methodical project to test, review, and report for DIY’ers. One of the first items to show, provides one of the simplest, cheapest, and quickest ways to get started with home automation. The TP-Link Smart Plug Mini is a simple, Wi-Fi capable plug that plugs into any standard electrical outlet. The plug connects directly to your home Wi-Fi network where Alexa can find it and doesn’t require a master “hub” to work – which also means you’re not stuck with a single hub ecosystem and the costs that go along with that. Additionally, once linked to Alexa, these devices can be grouped by room, location, or any other preference. For example: “Alexa, turn off the lights in the ...

Alexa Devices and Amazon Chime Could Someday Power Your Concalls

Just a day after Amazon launched its Skype competitor, Chime (see our growing Chime coverage HERE), the Wall Street Journal is reporting that both Google and Amazon may be working on delivering VOIP capabilities for their voice AI devices. Some sites have gone as far as to read that maybe Google and Amazon will launch their own phones services for the devices, but that’s really not a sound read. More likely is that both will give their devices the ability to send and receive voice to used essentially as speakerphones. Amazon originally faltered on its attempts to lure the public into using its own handsets, but with the consumer world going crazy over Alexa devices and the timely unveil of its Chime service, it seems only a very short stretch to make the capability available quickly....

Alexa Tip: Voice Commands to Work with Your Calendar

Amazon recently added the ability to link your Alexa account with Outlook.com calendars after offering only Google calendar access for the longest time. Read about how to connect Alexa to Outlook.com here: Configuring Alexa to Use Outlook Calendars The connection to Outlook.com has been a sought after, much-requested capability that Amazon has supplied. Many of you have been waiting for this feature, and so have held off using the calendar function of Alexa. So, what voice commands are available? Here’s the bulk of what you can do with the Alexa connection to both Outlook.com and Google calendar: Find out about your next event(s) “When is my next event?” “What’s on my calendar?” Find out about an event at a specific time or on a specific day “What’...

How Ford is Integrating Alexa into ALL of Its Cars

The implementation of Alexa into Ford’s automobile lineup should prove both interesting and valuable – if it works. Implementation is always the issue – even for great ideas. Ford used Microsoft’s Sync product in its vehicles, and the idea was promising, but the automaker ended up botching the implementation. If the company is successful, here’s a sampling of what to expect: Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Alexa FAQ: Pairing a Bluetooth Speaker with Echo

Amazon is continually improving the Alexa experience – particularly for its own devices. The company recently enabled voice-activation for its Tap device, finally brought Outlook.com calendar integration, and now has also silently given its flagship device, the Amazon Echo, the ability to connect with Bluetooth speakers. The Echo already comes with a speaker that provides immersive 360 degree sound, a 2.5 inch woofer, and 2.0 inch tweeter for deep bass, crisp high notes. But for those where this configuration is still not enough, or want to fill an even larger room with music, Amazon is making the Echo an even more valuable choice. The Echo is available from Amazon for $179: Amazon Echo Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/D...

Configuring Alexa to Use Outlook and Office 365 Calendars

A recent update for Alexa has added the built-in ability to connect Alexa with Outlook.com or Office 365 – giving users the ability to use the Outlook.com or Office 365 calendar for making appointments and listening to upcoming tasks. Prior to the update, only Google calendars were available. Here’s how to quickly set this up: In the Alexa app or on the web (http://alexa.amazon.com), open the Settings menu. Go to Calendar. Locate the Microsoft area and tap or click to initiate the process of linking your Outlook.com or Office 365 account to Alexa services. Once the linking is complete, you’ll see the various calendars hosted by Outlook.com or Office 365 and be able to choose them. You’ll also now see how many Outlook.com or Office 365 calendars are in use, be able to choose between the dif...

Alexa FAQ: Number of Working Alexa Accounts

Alexa offers the ability to assign different accounts to Alexa devices, allowing family members to switch between those accounts using voice. This offers a certain level of customization, allowing different family members to have their own shopping lists or music playlists. However, there is a limit to the number of accounts that can be added to a single Alexa account. Currently the max number of accounts is 2 and they both have to be part of the same Amazon Prime membership. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Does the Recent Alexa Tap Voice Activation Update Make it an Echo Replacement?

We’re a Dot, Echo, Tap family – meaning we own all three devices. Obviously, the biggest difference between the Dot and the Echo and Tap is the speaker. The Dot has a minimal speaker which is great for voice interaction, but not great for playing music in a large room. However, you can pair it with a Bluetooth speaker or connect to the audio port. The Echo is the monster in the room, providing a 2.5 inch woofer and 2.0 inch tweeter for deep bass, crisp high notes, and very ample sound levels. The Tap, while it provides a great speaker all its own (dual 1.5 inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension), was not originally released as a voice-activated device like the other two. The Tap matched its name – you had to “tap” a button to make Alexa listen to you. A recent firmware ...

Cortana Asks, Alexa Answers

Cortana asks Alexa questions and Alexa provides the conversational output. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Amazon Launches New Alexa Skills Kit Feature for SSML Speechcons

Speechcons are special words and phrases that Alexa pronounces more expressively. Amazon has announced a new feature for its Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), delivering over 100 special words and phrases such as: abracadabra, achoo, aha, ahem, ahoy, all righty, aloha, baa, bada bing bada boom, bah humbug, bam, bang, batter up, bazinga, checkmate, cheerio, cheers, cheer up, etc. You can find the full list of supported Speechcons here: Speechcon Reference (Interjections) And, when you’re looking for even deeper learning, check out IT/Dev Connections 2017. There’s already several Alexa sessions submitted and planned for the 2017 event. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in San Francisco in 2017!

Alexa Tip: Deeply Discounted Developer’s Course at Udemy

If you’re wanting to learn to develop for the next wave of technology, there’s no better area to focus on than voice AI.  The most popular (and continually increasing) voice AI at the moment is Amazon’s Alexa service. Udemy has discounted its Beginner to Intermediate class for developing for Alexa from $140 to just $15. Learn how to create and publish Alexa Skills, understand voice UI, and be comfortable with AWS and Alexa Skills Kit: Amazon Alexa Development: From Beginner to Intermediate And, when you’re looking for even deeper learning, check out IT/Dev Connections 2017. There’s already several Alexa sessions submitted and planned for the 2017 event. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connect...

Use Alexa to Control Your PC or Tablet

Though a pioneer in the voice AI area, Microsoft’s Cortana is having a tough time gaining traction, even with the personal assistant being front and center on Windows 10 PCs. Amazon’s Alexa is turning out to be the bell of the ball, and many Alexa device owners are already wanting to see the next step in Alexa’s evolution by allowing her to control even Windows 10 PCs. A new Alexa skill and web service could heat up the battle for supremacy on Windows 10 PCs, pitting Alexa and Cortana in direct competition. Microsoft continues to develop Cortana for cross-platform use, delivering AI features for Android and iOS. And, while Alexa is behind in the cross-platform uptake, Alexa device customers are starting to demand it. A new Alexa skill called Whiz Screen gives a hint into some of the capabi...