Apple's latest iOS update brings Siri news briefs and HomePod support


Siri's news reading feature is no longer limited to the beta testing crowd. Apple has officially released iOS 11.2.5, and the centerpiece is the ability to ask Siri for the latest happenings. If you're in the US, UK or Australia, you can get a briefing from a slew of local sources, such as NPR and the Washington Post in the states or the BBC and Sky News in the UK. And it doesn't have to be general news, either -- you can ask for business, music or sports news as well.

Amazon's Echo Show lets users tap the screen to access Alexa


Amazon is making it easier for those with hearing and speech impairments to utilize Alexa. Starting today, the Echo Show will have an option to toggle on a new feature called "Tap to Alexa," which will let users tap the device's screen to access the digital assistant. The feature includes shortcuts to common Alexa items like weather, timers, news and traffic, and users can also type out Alexa commands. Additionally, while Amazon launched its Alexa captioning feature in the US a few months ago, it's now releasing that feature to users in the UK, Germany, Japan, India, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. To activate Tap to Alexa, head over to the Echo Show's device settings, select the accessibility settings and switch the feature on.

Google Assistant coming to LG ThinQ TVs in 7 countries


South Korean tech Major LG Electronics has announced that Google Assistant is coming to its 2018 line-up of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled ThinQ TVs in seven new countries. The company's ThinQ TVs came with integrated Google's digital assistant when they were introduced in the US and added support for Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa's commands soon after. "Google Assistant will be available in Canada, Australia and the UK, with support coming to South Korea, Spain, France and Germany by the end of the year," The Verge reported late on Friday. "The built-in ThinQ AI, which runs on LG's own'WebOS' can be used for TV-specific commands, such as'search for the soundtrack of this movie', while Google Assistant and Alexa can be used as a smart home hub," it said. The company was also planning on bringing Amazon Alexa support to Australia and Canada in the future.

Google Assistant expands beyond Pixel to other phones

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With a connection this LG G6 can take advantage of the Google Assistant (Photo: Edward C. Baig) BARCELONA--The virtual Google Assistant is going to spread its voice beyond Google's own Pixel devices. Google announced that starting this week, it will roll out a software upgrade that brings the Assistant to all Android phones running Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Google Play Services. That's the software Google uses to update Google apps and services on Android devices. Google says the rollout will come first to English users in the U.S., followed by English users in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom, as well as German speakers in Germany. More languages will be added over the course of the year.

Amazon Echo goes on sale in Australia and New Zealand next month


At the tail end of 2017, Amazon announced that both its unlimited music service and Echo speaker would head to 28 more countries. This packaged expansion seems to be their theme in 2018, as the company stated both would be coming to Australia and New Zealand early in the new year. Today, it confirmed that Amazon Music Unlimited would launch in those countries on February 1st with Echoes on sale at select retailers early that month.