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AWS offers Alexa developers free cloud credits


Developers interested in extending the capabilities of Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant have some more free tools in their arsenal, thanks to a program the company announced Wednesday. Developers with an active Alexa skill -- a service that expands the capabilities of the virtual assistant -- can apply for $100 in Amazon Web Services credits every month to help pay for what they've built. After that, they can receive up to $100 per month in additional credits if they incur usage charges for their skills. The credits are meant to build on AWS's existing Free Tier, which offers developers a small bundle of free services every month, but charges them for any usage that goes over those low caps. According to a blog post by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, the move is supposed to make it free for developers to operate most Alexa skills.

'Alexa: What's Wrong With Me..?' Amazon's Virtual Assistant To Replace Your Doctor

Forbes - Tech

Just when you thought Amazon's virtual assistant knew enough already, WebMD – the hypochondriac's favorite website - has teamed up with the retail giant to give Alexa medical diagnosis capabilities. The integration will allow Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Fire TV users to ask Alexa basic health queries, such as "Alexa, ask WebMD what are the symptoms of a heart attack", or "Alexa, ask WebMD how to treat a sore throat." Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant now answers your basic health-related questions In addition to providing answers via voice, the new WebMD integration gives users the chance to request additional information sent in text form to their Alexa app. If they opt to do so, a card containing the original answer to their question and a URL where they can find more information on will appear in the app. "Every month, nearly one-third of the total online US population turns to WebMD's websites and apps in search of answers to their health-related questions, but now they have another option - and it's as simple as asking Alexa," said WebMD Vice President Ben Greenberg.

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant won't stop randomly laughing

Daily Mail - Science & tech

There are plenty of stories of artificial intelligence gone wrong. But recent reports from owners of Amazon Alexa devices are being called'bone chillingly creepy.' Some users say their Alexa-enabled gadgets start laughing totally unprompted. Some owners of Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo (pictured, file photo) say their gadgets are randomly laughing. Alexa is programmed to laugh at jokes, but doesn't typically giggle at random times One user reportedly tried to turn the lights off in their home but Alexa repeatedly turned the lights back on, eventually uttering an'evil laugh,' according to BuzzFeed.

Worried about your health? Consult Alexa

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Not all voice assistants can handle the same requests. We put Siri, Alexa and Google to the test. LONDON -- Alexa will see you now. Britain's health care service is teaming up with Amazon's digital voice assistant to help answer medical queries with advice from the service's official website. Critics, however, warn about risks to data privacy.

Google Assistant and Alexa might be coming to Xbox One


Some of us already like screaming at our Xbox when things don't go our way, but you might be able to make those vocalisations useful. As first reported by Windows Central, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants are on their way to the console, giving users an additional option on top of Microsoft's Cortana. SEE ALSO: Digital assistants just took a big step toward real'human' conversation A screenshot from an upcoming version of the Xbox One software shows a digital assistants section in the console's preferences menu, where it also asks users to add Xbox related skills via the Alexa app. It's unclear yet as to what kind of commands will be available, but if it's like Cortana (and the long dead Kinect) you'd hopefully be able to switch your Xbox on or off, as well as get information about sports and weather. But instead of using a headset, you'd hopefully be able to use your current smart speaker set-up to complete these commands.