Smart displays are the new smart speakers. A day after Facebook revealed Portal, a WiFi-connected video-chatting device for your home, Google has announced Home Hub, a new 7-inch smart screen that acts as a voice-controlled conduit for the Google Assistant. It's Google's first smart home gadget that's comprised largely of a touchscreen display, after having launched three different display-free smart speakers over the past couple years. The Home Hub is also part of Google's larger strategy to make its virtual assistant infinitely more useful, and also, to get its tech into every facet of your life that it can. Both Google and Facebook's connected displays are coming on the heels of Amazon's second-generation Echo Show, another smart display that's equipped with Alexa and displays snippets of information.
Facebook wants to be invited into your living room. The company has revealed details about its Amazon Echo competitor, a voice-controlled, webcam-equipped smart screen named Portal. Arriving in the US in November, Facebook Portal is a $199 (£152) 10-inch screen, with two speakers and a high-quality webcam attached, which the company hopes users will put in their living rooms and kitchens and use to launch video chats with friends and loved ones. The device, which also comes in a larger model, Portal, for $349, can play music from Spotify, videos from Facebook Watch, and act as a photo frame when not in use. It is controlled using voice commands, although Facebook has eschewed the personal approach of competitors such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa in favour of a more disembodied presence: users initiate instructions with: "Hey Portal."
Google looks to make a big splash at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, touting the Google Assistant. Apple TV has Siri, Amazon's Fire TV has Alexa, and now, Roku has joined forces with the Google Assistant to bring an established voice to its popular streaming players and branded TVs. Roku, the No. 1 streaming player, had offered its own voice search, but Google's Assistant, generally accessed via Google Home speakers, is more widely used by the public. Roku, in announcing new products for the fall Monday, didn't specify a time frame for the change, only saying it would be "soon," and for most existing devices. Additionally, the Roku TVs will have more functionality with Google, allowing viewers to say "Hey, Google," to turn their TV on and off, turn up the volume, mute, switch inputs and change channels, but only if the set is connected to an antenna.
Will it soon feel normal to say, "Alexa, microwave one bag of popcorn"? Like a rebooted Sharper Image catalogue, Amazon is adding its talking artificial intelligence to a microwave, a wall clock, a wall plug, cars and more. The new gadgets all hook into the Internet, take voice commands -- and make the online retail giant even more central to home life. The question is: Will families see these connected devices as conveniences, new complications -- or spies? Amazon's goal is to assert leadership over Google and Apple in the still-nascent market for smart-home tech, with everyday appliances connecting to the Internet to automate operations -- and gather all sorts of data on our lives.
According to a 2017 University of Washington report, there are hundreds of millions of smart-home devices in more than 40 million U.S. homes. This number is expected to double by 2021. Amazon Echo, Google Home and other devices that have Alexa and Google Assistant built in, have proven to be some of the world's most promising new technologies. These AI-enabled assistants seem capable of doing everything, from turning on lights to answering simple and even complex questions. "OK Google" and "Alexa" have become common household phrases, as these smart connected speakers always have their microphones on, yet don't respond until their "wake words" are mentioned.
Artificially intelligent systems map our journeys, unlock our homes, feed us entertainment, and foretell the weather. But could our electronic assistants also start to learn our emotions and use that knowledge to serve us better? In other words, does Alexa know when you get mad? Close up of a boy's face aged 8 years wearing Clown make up face paint with rainbow markings on his arm. In fact, Amazon teams have been working on analyzing your emotions from your vocal intonations for over a year.
Google's Assistant is picking up the ability to speak with you in two languages without having to switch accounts. Now Google Home and Android smartphone owners will be able to speak in any two of the following languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. The Google Assistant will reply in the language of the query it's answering. The company first mentioned it was working on this feature in February, but there hadn't been an update on it for months. The new feature helps Google Assistant serve bilingual households, which make up an increasing percentage of American families.
Being a child must be terribly confusing--hence all of the "why" and "how" questions. With no guidebook, no references, no context--no understanding of history and how society came to be, or of reproduction and how they came to be--the world is mystifying for its newest members, and growing up is a gradual process of demystification. It's no wonder kids have so many questions. It's also no wonder that they are enthralled by Alexa, the disembodied know-it-all on hand to answer their stream of queries. Smart speakers are the perfect players for their game of Twenty Million Questions.
Amazon.com and Microsoft have officially set up the friendship between their two voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana, a year after announcing the partnership to expand the reach and abilities of the competing assistants. But how does this relationship of rivals work? To talk to one assistant through the other, customers have to say either "Cortana, open Alexa" or "Alexa, open Cortana." From there, people can talk to the other assistant as usual. What they don't get is access to each others' data, according to statements from both companies Wednesday.
LAS VEGAS--Complexity is the enemy of security, but prompt patching is its strongest ally. Security professionals have made those points for years, but two presentations at the Black Hat USA conference here provided fresh arguments for them--and signs companies are getting snappier at fixing vulnerabilities. What that means for you: When your computer, phone or tablet says it has an update available, install it. Don't wait to benefit from the tighter focus of an Apple, Google or Microsoft on security issues. Support for that came in one Black Hat briefing covering a "vuln" in Apple's device-management system that lets organizations configure Macs from afar.