An Amazon customer got a grim message last year from Alexa, the virtual assistant in the company's smart speaker device: "Kill your foster parents." The user who heard the message from his Echo device wrote a harsh review on Amazon's website, Reuters reported - calling Alexa's utterance "a whole new level of creepy". An investigation found the bot had quoted from the social media site Reddit, known for harsh and sometimes abusive messages, people familiar with the investigation told Reuters. The odd command is one of many hiccups that have happened as Amazon tries to train its machine to act something like a human, engaging in casual conversations in response to its owner's questions or comments. The research is helping Alexa mimic human banter and talk about almost anything she finds on the internet.
With the popularity of the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Lenovo Smart Display, Facebook decided to launch their own video calling system with the Facebook Portal, which is now on sale for $149.99 -- a $30 savings -- at Best Buy for Black Friday. Normally retailing for $199.99, the all-new Facebook smart display features a smart camera that can track and follow your movements without moving or shifting the display unit itself. You can now move around your home without worrying if the person on the other end can see you or not. Since the Portal is from Facebook, the device seamlessly integrates with your friends and family on the social network for video calling and messaging. The Facebook Portal even works with the Amazon Alexa, so now you have the best of Facebook and Amazon in one sleek and futuristic touchscreen display.
Who says the holiday season doesn't bring people--or, in this case, two near-trillion dollar companies--together? With just two weeks to go until Black Friday, Apple and Amazon appeared to have put their differences behind them with latest iPhones, iPads, Macs and other Apple gear officially beginning to arrive at the online retail giant's virtual shelves. The products, which also includes the Apple Watch and Apple accessories, will be sold and shipped by Amazon directly. The Apple gear will begin arrive to Amazon over the coming weeks and will include the latest iPhone XR and XS phones and recently released MacBook Air and iPad Pros. More: Review: Apple gives MacBook Air (most) of the love it's been lacking The HomePod, Apple's voice-controlled Siri speaker rival to Amazon's Alexa and Echo, will not be among the products soon to be available at the online retailer.
Hot on the heels of its addition to the Amazon app on the iPhone, Alexa is looking to make its presence known on Android, too. Huawei has announced that the virtual assistant is on its way to the Mate 9, making it the first Android phone to receive Amazon's AI aide. With Alexa on the Mate 9, you'll be able to do many of the things the Echo and Dot can do, including control your home automation devices while you're away. Huawei is touting its smart home capabilities as the flagship feature of Alexa on the Mate 9, but it can also handle many of the other skills Alexa has on Amazon's devices, including the ability to play games, shop at Amazon.com, get news updates, track your workouts, and play podcasts. Furthermore, you can use it to get information about people, places, and events, check your Google or Outlook calendar, find local businesses, and get weather and traffic updates.