Personal Assistant Systems


Apple is ready for its Hollywood closeup, but will consumers bite?

USATODAY

Apple has once again summoned the media to its Cupertino, California headquarters. Monday's festivities are expected to be a star-studded sneak peak of a new $9.99 monthly entertainment subscription service, offering series and movies from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Brie Larson. The place to find the service is expected to be on the Apple TV app, which is available for the set-top box and on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Reporters are eager to hear how Apple plans on expanding its base to TVs and other set-top boxes like Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick. Additionally, Apple is expected to unveil a "Netflix of magazines," that will offer publications like the Wall Street Journal and People for $9.99 monthly.


Apple is ready for its Hollywood closeup, but will consumers bite?

USATODAY

You know, the first one you see when you turn on the Apple TV set-top box, which alerts you to the latest movies available for rent, TV shows to purchase and the like? Apple sees a bigger future for the app, as a launchpad for a new entertainment service, and a place where folks can subscribe to other subscription services, like HBO and Showtime. This week the company unveiled a new line of iMac computers and iPads, as well as an update to its popular AirPods bluetooth earbuds, to clear the deck and get all the focus on entertainment. Is Apple about to challenge the leaders in streaming? Monday, Apple is expected to sneak peek a new $9.99 monthly entertainment subscription service, offering series and movies from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Brie Larson.


Lutron Caséta Fan Control review: Smart control for your dumb ceiling fan

PCWorld

Smart ceiling fans--models with wireless remote controls and digital-assistant compatibility--are a relatively new thing. But you can still control a legacy fan if you replace your in-wall switch with something like Lutron's Caséta Fan Control. It's not an inexpensive option, especially if you don't already have a Caséta bridge connected to your router, but it is a very good one. The Caséta bridge isn't required if you have no intention of integrating this fan controller into your broader smart home system, but most TechHive readers will. Lutron's Clear Connect Wireless technology is at the heart of the Caséta product line, and it's a robust competitor to the broader Z-Wave and ZigBee ecosystems.


You can add 2 TP-Link smart outlets to your home for just $25 today

PCWorld

It's cheaper and easier than ever to add some smarts to your home, and today you can make two of your dumb devices smarter for the lowest price we've ever seen. B&H Photo Video is selling the TP-Link HS107 Wi-Fi dual-outlet smart plug for $25Remove non-product link with the on-page coupon today, down from a list price of $35. The coupon applies $10 off for each plug that you buy, so you can get multiple at this price. This smart plug comes with two individually controlled outlets, so you'll be able to plug in and control two devices at once. Using the connected Kasa app, you'll be able to turn devices off and on or create schedules from anywhere using your mobile device.


How to create your own Alexa skills via Blueprints

Mashable

You've probably used your Amazon Echo for a variety of tasks and skills, from listening to music and playing games to finding information and controlling smart home devices. But what if you could create your own Alexa skills? You can, thanks to a feature called Alexa Blueprints. You can use templates to create your own stories and games, or concoct personalized answers to specific questions. After completing your custom skills, you have the option to limit them to just your own household so only you and your family can access them, or you can share them with the world.


New AirPods: How Apple reinvented its 'magical wireless experience'

The Independent

Apple's AirPods have been staggeringly successful. Although at first some found them strange-looking or were convinced they would fall out of their ears, they quickly became the in-ear wireless headphone to aspire to. Rarely in the two years and three months since launch has demand eased off. As a result, the look has gone from curious to acceptable to – dare I say it – iconic. Now, the second-generation AirPods have been announced, I talked to Greg Joswiak, Apple's Vice President of Product Marketing and Kate Bergeron, Vice President of Hardware Engineering about the new arrivals.


AirPods finally get update with wireless charging, Siri and more talk time

USATODAY

With some new and improved features. The second generation of AirPods have finally arrived. Following a hardware update cycle that saw new iPads on Monday and refreshed iMacs on Tuesday, Apple released the long-awaited update to AirPods Wednesday. Keeping the same name and largely same design as the original AirPods first released in 2016, the new earbuds start at $199 and come with a new wireless charging case, the ability to wirelessly summon Siri and Apple's new H1 chip which promises to add an extra hour of talk time. The wireless charging case, which has a little light on the front to indicate when it is charging, uses the same Qi-standard found on recent iPhones and Android devices.


Meet Q, The Gender-Neutral Voice Assistant

NPR

For most people who talk to our technology -- whether it's Amazon's Alexa, Apple Siri or the Google Assistant -- the voice that talks back sounds female. Some people do choose to hear a male voice. Now, researchers have unveiled a new gender-neutral option: Q. "One of our big goals with Q was to contribute to a global conversation about gender, and about gender and technology and ethics, and how to be inclusive for people that identify in all sorts of different ways," says Julie Carpenter, an expert in human behavior and emerging technologies who worked on developing Project Q. The voice of Q was developed by a team of researchers, sound designers and linguists in conjunction with the organizers of Copenhagen Pride week, technology leaders in an initiative called Equal AI and others. They first recorded dozens of voices of people -- those who identify as male, female, transgender or nonbinary.


Smart hearing add translates speech into 27 languages

Daily Mail

The'world's first' AI-powered hearing aid connects to your smartphone and can translate speech into 27 different languages, say its creators. Experts claim to have mastered near-real time translation of Arabic, Japanese and French, among others, by listening for the foreign language and relaying it to the phone. The device is akin to the fictitious alien Babel fish that performs instant translations in comedy science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Creators Starkeys claim the technology reduces noisy environments by 50 per cent, while artificial intelligence optimises the hearing experience and its translation is compatible to Google Translate in terms of accuracy. The Livio AI, which is now on sale in the UK and costs £3,000 ($3,900), also has brain tracking technology and Alexa connectivity, and interfaces with the mobile app, Thrive Hearing.


Apple's launch week continues as new AirPods arrive with wireless charging case, 'Hey Siri' support

PCWorld

If Apple's strategy this week is to build excitement for next week's "Show time" event, then it's doing a bang-up job. Following Monday's iPads and Tuesday's iMacs, Apple updated another popular product today with the launch of the second-generation AirPods that bring a new chip, new features, a new case, and more convenience. The new AirPods look exactly like the first-generation model, but include several key enhancements. The biggest is the addition of a new H1 chip, which Apple says was "developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free'Hey Siri.'" That means you no longer need to tap your ear to get Siri's attention.