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Google Assistant Makes CES Splash
January 10, 2018
Since launching the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has expanded its line of Alexa voice-activated devices to reach a dominant position in the marketplace. Realizing it has a bit of catching up to do and possibly may need to redefine the ground rules, Google this week put the consumer electronics world on notice that this no longer is a one-horse race. Google threw down its gauntlet at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment
January 4, 2018
Roku on Wednesday announced new software and a licensing agreement for OEMs to develop smart speakers, soundbars and multiroom audio systems that will allow customers to control their home entertainment devices with simple voice commands. The company also introduced Roku Entertainment Assistant, a new smart speaker technology that allows customers to use voice commands on supported Roku-enabled devices.
E-Commerce Trends in 2018: Voice, Subscriptions, Personalization
January 4, 2018
The mushrooming popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home will fuel e-commerce in the coming year. "You're going to have a whole new frontier of commerce space driven through voice and brand recognition," said Michael Levine, marketing vice president at Photon. "It's going to be a different type of playing field for these brands.
Tech to Watch in 2018: Cryptocurrency, AI, Wearables
January 2, 2018
Guesswork is often involved in predicting the "next big thing" -- but with CES just a week away, the future is almost now. The annual trade show, as well as other industry events following one after another -- including ITExpo, Gitex and Mobile World Congress -- means there will be no shortage of product announcements, technology unveilings, and proclamations about the tech of the future.
The Tech Wars of 2018
December 11, 2017
We are coming up to the end of the year, and it's a good time to look forward. Stepping outside of politics and the obvious war between the Democrats, Republicans and common sense, there is the war between Amazon and Google, which likely will redefine the growth of digital assistants. There's also the war between Intel and Qualcomm in the personal computing arena.
Google and Amazon Square Off, Ignoring Customers in the Middle
December 7, 2017
A long-simmering dispute between Google and Amazon has escalated into a front-burner feud, following Google's decision to block its YouTube video service from Amazon's Echo Show, effective immediately, and from its Fire TV, effective Jan. 1. Google apparently decided to cut off YouTube as retaliation for Amazon's refusal to carry its products, including Chromecast and Google Home, on its website.
Facebook Messenger Promises Speedy Delivery of 4K Pics
November 21, 2017
Facebook on Tuesday raised the ante for messaging apps photo quality with the announcement of 4K support for Messenger. Starting Tuesday, "people can send and receive photos in Messenger at 4K resolution -- or up to 4,096 x 4,096 pixels per image -- the highest quality many smartphones support," wrote Facebook Messenger product managers Sean Kelly and Hagen Green.
Amazon Denies Rumored Plans for Ad-Supported Prime Video Service
November 14, 2017
Amazon has denied a report that it has been working on a free, ad-supported video platform to complement its subscription-based Amazon Prime Video service. Amazon has been in talks with various television networks, movie studios and other media entities about providing content to the site, according to the Monday report. Such a service would place Amazon in direct competition with Apple.
Amazon Cloud Cam Joins Burgeoning Smart-Home Ecosystem
November 9, 2017
Amazon has begun shipping its latest smart home product, a security camera that works with its Alexa personal assistant and Echo speakers. The Amazon Cloud Cam allows customers to live-stream activity inside their home 24/7. It features 1080p full HD resolution, two-way audio for communicating with family members or pets, night vision technology, and sophisticated identification algorithms.
Fake News: Amazon Wants a Key to Your House
October 30, 2017
I'm getting tired of headlines that present something you might want to do as something you'd have to be crazy to do. Last week was a case in point: Headline after headline shouted out that Amazon wanted to get a key to your house. The initial reaction was hell no -- but the reality is far more nuanced. You see, there are a lot of folks who live in places where their front entrance isn't secure.
Amazon to Let Delivery Drivers Open Your Front Door
October 26, 2017
Amazon has announced a new service that will allow Prime members to receive in-home delivery of packages with the help of high-tech smart locks that allow drivers to open their front doors. Amazon Key will launch officially on Nov. 8 in 37 U.S. cities and surrounding communities, with additional locations to be added over time. The service will be available at no extra cost to Prime members.
Harman Kardon's Cortana-Powered Smart Speaker Underwhelms
October 21, 2017
Early reviews of the Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana -- the smart speaker that features Microsoft's personal assistant -- have been lukewarm at best. The speaker will be available in the U.S. starting Sunday. Like Amazon's Echo line and Google's Home speakers, Invoke lets users play music, manage calendars, set reminders, check traffic, get news reports, and control other smart home devices.
Google Assistant Shines in Pint-Sized Home Mini
October 12, 2017
The first wave of reviews touting Google's Home Mini smart speaker surfaced this week, following reports that the company had to quash a top touch function to prevent the device from accidentally activating and recording conversations without users' knowledge. Google has promised to update the device by Oct. 15. The Home Mini can provide reports on weather, traffic, news, sports and more.
New Kindle Oasis E-Reader Can Take a Dunking
October 12, 2017
Amazon on Wednesday pulled the wraps off a new premium e-reader that's waterproof and has a sharp 300 pixels-per-inch display. The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch Paperwhite display and sports an aluminum back and ergonomic shape that makes it easier to read for prolonged periods. It has a battery life measured in weeks, and it can charge from zero to full power in two hours.
Google Pixel 2: 8/10ths of an Apple-Killer Strategy
October 9, 2017
What would it take to cause Apple to fail? While Steve Jobs was alive, the prevalent belief was that it would take his removal from the company. That has happened, but Apple's valuation and reserves are higher. Although the foundational element was removed, no one really went after Apple hard until last week, when Google launched a comprehensive strategy that clearly targeted the company.
Gadget Ogling: Same Old Apple
October 6, 2017
Watching Apple's product announcement showcase is a bit like celebrating New Year's. People from all over the world are drawn to this annual event with the promise of something new and exciting, a vision of tomorrow and untold promise. Yet the more it comes around, the more disappointed we are. That promised kiss from a stranger at midnight is a dud. Our best intentions fall by the wayside.
AI Ripples Through Google's New Product Lineup
October 5, 2017
Google on Wednesday launched a bevy of new products into its growing hardware and software ecosystem at its Made by Google event. Many of the new devices are infused with artificial intelligence capabilities. "Since last year and since Google I/O, we've been working hard, continuing our shift from a mobile-first to an AI-first world," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the gathering.
Anticipating the Smart World of 2027: A Billion Cameras and AI, Oh My...
October 2, 2017
Nvidia went to China last week and made a series of interesting announcements having to do with smart cities and autonomous cars. IBM made an announcement on advancements in tying the Weather Channel to its Watson artificial intelligence engine, and improvements in targeted marketing. We also found out about Oculus' Fall in Love VR project which is kind of like the The Bachelor.
Amazon Deploys Army of Echoes Against Oncoming Threats
September 29, 2017
Amazon has unveiled five new Echo products that raise the bar in the automated home market. Among other things, Amazon has improved the sound quality in its second-generation Echo speaker to compete with several new competitors in the high-end audio segment. The new Echo, which is more compact and comes in a variety of shell colors and finishes, offers more immersive sound.
Google Assistant Goes to Work for Nvidia's Shield TV
September 29, 2017
Nvidia on Thursday announced that its Shield TV now includes Google Assistant as part of its Shield Experience Upgrade 6.0 update. The update also lets the Shield device work as a SmartThings Hub when paired with a SmartThinks Link. The SmartThings Link, which can be used to connect Shield TV as a SmartThings Hub, will be released in the coming months with a promotional launch price of $14.99.
Cloudflare Stream Promises Easy, Cheap Video Hosting
September 28, 2017
Cloudflare on Wednesday released the beta version of Cloudflare Stream, a new, inexpensive streaming video service. Designed for app developers who want to build businesses hosting and streaming videos, Cloudflare Stream bundles encoding, global delivery and video player software into one package. These functionalities can be separated upon request.
Amazon's Alexa May Get Into Your Head
September 21, 2017
Developers at Amazon's secret Lab 126 reportedly have been working on audio-only smart glass technology that would allow users to communicate with its virtual assistant Alexa. The smart glasses would connect wirelessly to users' smartphones and transfer communications through a bone-conduction audio system that would negate the need for headphones. Amazon plans to release the device this year.
Taking Business Communication in Stride
September 7, 2017
Atlassian has announced the development of Stride, a new Slack-like workplace tool designed to streamline the communication process for business users. Stride enables teams to take action via both a smart text-based messaging service and a fully featured video and audio service. The latter functionality is made available thanks to Atlassian's recent acquisition of Jitsi.
LG Unveils V30 Flagship With Super Camera, Sound Features
September 5, 2017
LG Electronics last week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the LG V30, at IFA 2017 in Berlin. Among the LG V30's innovations: an F1.6 aperture camera lens; a glass Crystal Clear Lens; the first OLED FullVision display; Cine Video mode for producing movie-quality videos; and the Point Zoom feature, which lets users zoom in on any subject anywhere in the frame.
Alexa, Cortana Become New BFFs
September 2, 2017
Microsoft and Amazon this week announced a deal that will let their voice-controlled digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa, engage in cross-platform communications. Microsoft customers will be able to access Alexa voice commands by saying "Cortana, open Alexa" on any device that supports Cortana, which is available on millions of desktops, laptops, tablets and other devices.
SIGGRAPH 2017: Virtual Reality Is Alive and Flourishing
September 1, 2017
The SIGGRAPH conference is a year event that focuses on the latest in computer graphics and other interactive arts. It is a multidiscipline show, mixing computer imaging with other physical creations. It is also a crossroads for the film, video game, commercial, research and education industries. It has a forward-looking vision while celebrating the recent and not-so-recent past.
Alexa Can Make Music Echo All Through the House
August 31, 2017
Alexa has a new musical talent, Amazon announced Tuesday. "Today, we're making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home," said Amazon Alexa Vice President Toni Reid. Setting up the syncing is easy. Using the Alexa app, you give a group of devices a name, such as "first floor."
Walmart, Google Enter Voice-Shopping Fray
August 24, 2017
Walmart and Google, two of Amazon's biggest rivals, on Wednesday announced a partnership that will let customers use Google's Home speaker and a number of voice-assisted mobile devices to shop online at Walmart. Their mutual goal is to eat away at Amazon's dominant share in the e-commerce shopping space and the smart speaker space, in order to curb the growth of its giant ecosystem.
Google May Have Pixel Chromebook Showcase, Tiny Home in the Works
August 23, 2017
Google appears to be planning a Pixel-branded Chromebook and a downsized version of its Home smart speaker, following in the steps of Microsoft and Amazon respectively. Along with two expected new Pixel phones, Google this fall will unveil a Pixel-branded Chromebook and smaller, lower-priced version of its Home smart speaker, according to a report.
Merged VR: Augmented Reality Cubed
August 18, 2017
There is considerable development activity at the high end of hardware and content creation for virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as such AR aliases as mixed reality, extended reality and others. Most industry investment is aimed at leading-edge gaming and industrial application development. However, the low-end of the market is also worth looking at.
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How does the tech industry compare to other industries when it comes to diversity?
Tech firms have been working much harder than others to achieve diversity.
Tech is rife with sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
The tech industry would be more inclusive if there were more qualified applicants.
Tech firms have made superficial efforts but they're mainly for show.
The push for diversity is a cultural fad, and there is no real problem.