Lawmakers, child development experts, and privacy advocates are expressing concerns about two new Amazon products targeting children, questioning whether they prod kids to be too dependent on technology and potentially jeopardize their privacy. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, two members of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus raised concerns about Amazon's smart speaker Echo Dot Kids and a companion service called FreeTime Unlimited that lets kids access a children's version of Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant. "While these types of artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology offer potentially new educational and entertainment opportunities, Americans' privacy, particularly children's privacy, must be paramount," wrote Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), both cofounders of the privacy caucus. The letter includes a dozen questions, including requests for details about how audio of children's interactions is recorded and saved, parental control over deleting recordings, a list of third parties with access to the data, whether data will be used for marketing purposes, and Amazon's intentions on maintaining a profile on kids who use these products. Echo Dot Kids is the latest in a wave of products from dominant tech players targeting children, including Facebook's communications app Messenger Kids and Google's YouTube Kids, both of which have been criticized by child health experts concerned about privacy and developmental issues.
The Amazon Echo with Alexa is great, but it can act a little funny sometimes. These are Ranker's best stories involving Alexa. A link has been sent to your friend's email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. The Amazon Echo with Alexa is great, but it can act a little funny sometimes.
When Amazon first introduced developer tools that let people build stuff for Alexa, the company made a conscious decision to call these functions "skills" rather than apps. It was a subtle way of making Alexa seem capable, and also, suggesting to developers that building these skills would be a low lift. With just a "few lines of code," Amazon promised, "you can build entirely new experiences designed around voice." Amazon says most Echo users in the US have tried these third-party skills at least once, but getting them to work can be tricky. Alexa's voice skills often require super specific queries, and until Amazon started paying attention to the discovery process, taking the time to find new skills felt like a non-essential burden. Now, Amazon has decided to make Alexa's skills all about you: your dad jokes, your homework, your birthday.
The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy. That's the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of'voice-sniffing' technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads. At the moment, Amazon's Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the "Alexa" wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market.
Now available, Apple's smart speaker has integrated Siri support, so wake it up and ask a question or give a command. You probably know about Siri's funny responses to questions like "What's the meaning of life?" or "Are you alive?" And you may have complained when the assistant stumbles or can't follow your question. Spoiler alert: This column won't show you how to make Siri fault-proof. But it will help you get more out of it, particularly when you're in situations where you couldn't or shouldn't be using your hands.
Amazon's popular Echo family of devices keeps growing. From the first can-shaped Echo, to the big-screen Echo Show, and even the cute Echo Dot, you can get Alexa into your home any number of ways. These Echo products can answer your questions, help you order essentials for your home, play all sorts of audio content, and even function as the control hub for your burgeoning smart home. These are our favorite Amazon Echos for every home and every budget. The Echo Plus is the best-sounding Echo.
Instead of simply prompting "dial one to speak with a sales associate," a chatbot can direct potential customers and extract details in less time and with greater insight, all while allowing the user to communicate naturally, on their own terms. Working alongside human employees, conversational chatbots can serve as front-line engagement tools that help drive customer interactions and funnel prospects to the appropriate channel where a human resource can truly add value.
Several people who own Amazon's Echo speakers have reported a strange bug: the Alexa voice assistant has been laughing for no reason. Some users on Twitter and Reddit say the outbursts have been entirely spontaneous. Others have said that Alexa has laughed after being asked to turn on the lights -- and may have misheard the command. "Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed," Twitter user @DavidSven wrote recently. "Anybody else ever have that?
The Amazon Echo kicked off the smart speaker trend a few years ago, but it's no longer alone. There are dozens of smart speakers already on the market in 2018 and a ton more are coming. You need to decide which voice assistant you prefer (there are now four--Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana) and what features are most important to you. Does it need to play Spotify? Does it need to connect to your other speakers and smarthome gadgets?