TIME


This Is Microsoft's Gorgeous New Nest Competitor

TIME

Following a demonstration of how its Cortana virtual assistant would work in cars and living rooms last May, the company just revealed it's working on a smart thermostat called GLAS. Contrasted with rivals like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Honeywell Lyric, both of which have round shapes that resemble more traditional thermostats, GLAS appears to be a sleek, transparent touchscreen mounted on a wall. The screen can also be used to summarize energy savings, display a calendar and outline air quality. The news also comes as an increasing number of home devices are adding support for Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant.


New Lip-Syncing Technology Lets Researchers Put Words Into Barack Obama's Mouth

TIME

To demonstrate the power of their project, they transformed the lip movements and gestures of former President Barack Obama in various speeches throughout his political career. "Given audio of President Barack Obama, we synthesize a high quality video of him speaking with accurate lip sync, composited into a target video clip," an excerpt from the video's YouTube description reads. "Trained on many hours of his weekly address footage, a recurrent neural network learns the mapping from raw audio features to mouth shapes. "Given the mouth shape at each time instant, we synthesize high quality mouth texture, and composite it with proper 3D pose matching to change what he appears to be saying in a target video to match the input audio track," the description added.


How to Pick the Amazon Echo That's Right for You

TIME

If you've been contemplating purchasing one of Amazon's voice-enabled Echo smart speakers, now is a particularly good time to pull the trigger. The standard model will cost $89.99 Amazon's portable Tap speaker will be selling for $79.90, a $50 markdown. Here's a brief look at how they compare: Who it's for: Shoppers looking for a decent living room speaker with smart speaker capabilities Amazon's standard Echo is ideal for those who want a smart device that can double as a speaker for playing music. The Show supports free video calling between other Echo owners and anyone with the Alexa app installed on their phone.


Samsung's Rumored Next Bet Faces An Amazon-Sized Challenge

TIME

The South Korean technology giant may be developing a new Amazon Echo-like smart speaker powered by its Bixby virtual assistant, reports the Wall Street Journal. But it's arrival would likely come long after category pioneers like Amazon, Google and Apple have either released or announced plans to launch voice-activated gadgets of their own. But releasing a voice-activated gadget that could prove as popular as the company's lucrative Galaxy phones poses two fundamental challenges: Samsung would be late to a space already dominated by Amazon and Google, and it has yet to prove that it can make a valuable virtual assistant. The company's commanding e-tail empire makes the Echo a prime choice for online shopping, arguably more so than either Google Home, Harman Kardon's Invoke speaker (powered by Microsoft's Cortana assistant), or Apple's forthcoming HomePod device.


Here's Why You Can't Live Without the Amazon Echo

TIME

In his bestselling book, Eyal describes the four steps of the Hooked Model and provides case studies for how the stickiest technologies use hooks to keep users coming back. In this essay, I'll use the Hooked Model to help explain how voice assistants, like Amazon's Alexa, keep us hooked. In fact, an April 2017 study from GfK showed nearly half of Amazon Echo and Google Home users report using their devices "regularly" or "all of the time." Through hundreds of interactions and tiny user investments, Alexa begins to customize itself to each individual's preferences.


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TIME

Facebook plans to develop a fleet of drone s powered by sunlight that will fly for months at a time, communicating with each other through lasers and extending internet connectivity to the ground below. The company called the first test, in June 2016, a success after it flew above the Arizona desert for 1 hour and 36 minutes, three times longer than planned. The second test occurred on May 22, Martin Luis Gomez, Facebook's director of aeronautical platforms, said in a blog post. The aircraft flew for an hour and 46 minutes before landing near Yuma, Arizona, with only "a few minor, easily-repairable dings," he said.


The iPhone's Greatest Achievements 10 Years Later

TIME

It's easy to forget that the original model didn't have an App Store. The iPhone 4 marked Apple's first full overhaul of the phone's appearance, distancing it from the previously similar iPod Touch. But what most didn't realize is how crucial Apple's digital assistant would be to the company's future products and increasing investments in artificial intelligence. The iPhone 5 marked another significant redesign for Apple's smartphone, shifting from glass-coated backing to the brushed aluminum finish that's now standard to the iPhone lineup.


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TIME

It's the first time Alexa, the virtual assistant powering Amazon's Echo devices, doesn't depend solely on verbal input. I can't glance at my nightstand without Alexa feeding me news headlines, recommending music videos, or encouraging me to try its other features. As such, it's possible to place a video call, audio call, or send an audio message just by asking Alexa. Amazon is positioning the Show as more than just a Skype machine by making it compatible with smart home products like baby monitors and security cameras.


Uber's Next CEO Has to Face This Huge Challenge

TIME

Bradley Tusk, founder of Tusk Ventures who was an advisor to Uber, remembers the first time he met Travis Kalanick more than six years ago. Since Uber's inception in 2009, venture capitalists have poured money to stake a claim in Kalanick's vision of the future, making it the most valuable startup in the world worth nearly $70 billion. Uber's next CEO must be equal parts innovator and mediator, a leader that can address the company's cultural troubles while also maintaining the focus and vision that lead Kalanick's company to upend the taxi industry. "[But] the person who can actually think about how to make flying cars happen, there aren't a lot of those."


Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Talks About Microsoft's Mixed-Reality Future

TIME

TIME spoke with Spencer about the company's current and future plans, including backward compatibility (the company announced Xbox original games coming soon to all Xbox One devices), the criticality of Xbox Live (its online games service) and finally the timescale for general consumer adoption of mixed reality products. So if you're a great console gamer, you're probably playing a lot of PC games, you're probably playing a lot of games on your mobile device, you're just a gamer and you want to play on every device." It's why on a quarterly basis now Microsoft talks about Xbox Live MAU [monthly active users] as our gaming metric. "I think we're 5 to 10 years away from a true untethered device that's at a consumer price point that has the fidelity of experience and the kind of ease of use that you need to get to scale," says Spencer.