CES showcases the tech trends that will shape the year ahead. See the most important products that will impact businesses and professionals. Today, iHeartRadio announced it will be available through Facebook Messenger, for Roku users, through Samsung Bixby, on the Jibo social robot, on the new Garmin Forerunner 645 Music GPS sports watch, and in General Motors and Ford vehicles. The bot for Facebook Messenger will let you ask it to hear music based on a specific genre or geographic location. Bixby users, including Note 8, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S8 Plus users, can ask Bixby to play specific Live and iHeartRadio Original radio stations, create a custom artist station, set a sleep timer, and ask Bixby to like the song that is playing or skip a song.
TL;DR: It's time to buy a smart speaker. They're ridiculously cheap--$30 for the Amazon Echo Dot, and $29 for the Google Home Mini--and increasingly powerful. It will be a long time before they're as empathetic as Samantha in Her or as industrious as Rosie in The Jetsons. But they can already make your life easier, or at least more interesting, in a few key ways. So you might as well break down and get one.
No matter how many Amazon Echo commercials you see, it takes a little time to adjust to Alexa. Putting a virtual assistant in your home signals a change in lifestyle, sort of like adopting a puppy. There will be a lot of trial-and-error, but once you find your rhythm, you'll forget what life was like without her. The Amazon Echo listens for the wake word, "Alexa." But, frankly, I was shocked by how many conversations were recorded by my Echo that did not include the wake word.
From incessant breaking news alerts to the collapse of net neutrality to a string of natural disasters, we are all very tired. Though it's worth revisiting why this was a momentous twelve months in science and tech, we'd much rather look ahead to the new year. Over the next two weeks, we'll be looking back on the year that was, and sharing our hopes and predictions for 2018. Join us as we place our bets on AI, algorithms, social media regulations, green tech, streaming services, robotics, self-driving cars and even space taxis. And, of course, since we're Engadget, you can expect to hear about the upcoming products and games we're most excited about.
Amazon brought multiroom audio support to its Echo speakers a few months ago, but let's face it: unless you're a big fan of Amazon Music Unlimited, it hasn't been very useful for on-demand streaming. As promised, Amazon has added multiroom support for Spotify (oh, and SiriusXM) to let you play the tunes of your choice across more than one Echo at a time, including groups. You won't have to stop listening to an album just because you've moved from the living room to the kitchen. Multi-speaker Spotify streaming is only available in a handful of countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Ireland and Germany. SiriusXM, unsurprisingly, only gets this option in the US.
Every BBC radio station and podcast is now accessible through Amazon's Alexa assistant. So if you have an Echo or Echo dot in your home (or any Alexa-enabled speaker, for that matter), you can now launch Radio 1, 6 Music, or an episode of Desert Island Discs with your voice. The new Alexa "skill" offers granular control too, including "play," "pause" and "resume." You can also skip back to the "previous" episode of a podcast at any time. It's not the first time the BBC has backed Alexa, however.
People used to dream about robot secretaries. Futurists imagined a world where computers obeyed our every command. When the Amazon Echo hit the market, that dream became a reality: Alexa was obedient, personable and all-knowing. She could carry out a myriad of basic tasks, with a personality as professional and unflappable as a human assistant. This year, Echo is more popular than ever, and despite competition from Google, Amazon still dominates 75 percent of the virtual assistant market.
Q: I have an Amazon Echo and I am really concerned that Amazon is listening all the time. Does the Echo have any privacy settings? A: Ever since Echo hit the market, people have wondered how much the little glowing tower hears -- and remembers. Is Echo silently eavesdropping on our conversations, even between "wake phrases"? So far, Echo hasn't caused any mass hysteria, and most people are pretty content with the performance of their virtual assistant.
Prince Harry and a robot have been announced as two guest editors on Radio 4's Today Programme. Their fellow editors will be Baroness Trumpington, Tamara Rojo and Ben Okri. This is the 14th year control has been handed over to public figures between Christmas and New Year. Kensington Palace said Prince Harry would use the opportunity to "shine a spotlight on issues that are close to his heart". The palace added: "He is working closely with Today's team to produce segments on a range of topics, including youth violence, conservation and mental health."
Isabelle Olsson, Google's Head of Industrial Design for Home, speaks about the Google Home Mini during a launch event in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2017. Q: With the Equifax breach, I am worried that hackers can steal money from my bank account. A: The sheer number of victims is massive, and it keeps climbing with every new report. Meanwhile, Equifax has done a miserable job of comforting its customers, and the fallout has left far more questions than answers. The best thing you can do for your security is to establish two-factor authentication on your bank account.