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Google Assistant can now play Spotify podcasts on your Nest speakers

Engadget

Users around the world can now use Google's Assistant to play and control Spotify podcasts in English, Spotify has confirmed to Engadget. Until now, the voice assistant has only supported its own Google Podcasts, with third-party services limited to music streaming only. However, recent rumors suggested that the third-party podcast support was coming, starting with Spotify. You can enable the feature by heading to your Assistant device's settings in the Google Home app (on a smartphone or tablet) and choosing Spotify as the default podcast provider. You'll be able to find more information here from Spotify once the news post goes live.


Google Assistant will play podcasts from third-party services like Spotify

Engadget

You might not have to depend on Google Podcasts if you're asking Assistant to play your favorite serialized audio show. Android Police and its readers have discovered that Google is adding support for third-party podcast services, starting with Spotify. You just have to visit podcast settings in Assistant to choose your provider. We've asked Google if it can comment on the feature's rollout. AP's writer had trouble getting it to work, though it may be due to regional issues.


Apple unveils $99 HomePod Mini smart speaker launching next month

ZDNet

Want a speaker for your office that pumps out premium sound and offers Bluetooth streaming or voice control? Here are your best options from all the big players, including Sonos, Bose, Google, Apple, and Amazon. The smaller speaker is more affordable, with a $99 price tag, and smaller than the original HomePod. It goes on sale Nov. 6 and will start shipping Nov. 16. Apple still leverages Siri, along with several new software updates and improvements, including the ability to play music from third-party services like Spotify, instead of being limited to Apple Music as has been the case since its launch in 2018.


Google Assistant App Actions brings voice commands to Android apps

PCWorld

Google Assistant can do a lot of things on our phones, but it's not so great at interacting with our Android apps. Sure you can ask Spotify to play a song or send a text with Telegram, but for the most part, apps and Assistant are mutually exclusive. As part of its Google Assistant Developer Day Thursday, Google has announced that a handful of "your favorite Android apps" have begun working with Assistant voice commands, including Discord, Etsy, MyFitnessPal, Mint, Nike Adapt, Postmates, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, and Walmart. As long as the corresponding app is set up on your phone, all you need to do is summon Assistant and ask to do something within an app, like ordering pizza on Postmates or checking an order status on Walmart. Google is calling the new feature App Actions, and they're similar to Alexa Actions.


Ubisoft debuts Viking history podcast ahead of 'Assassin's Creed Valhalla'

Engadget

To whet your appetite a bit more for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft wants to teach you about the history of Vikings. It made a podcast called Echoes of Valhalla and all five episodes are now available on Spotify. Ubisoft described the documentary series as "the first immersive audio historical documentary series in audio for Assassin's Creed." With the help of experts, comedians and "reconstructed scenes," it delves into various aspects of Viking life, such as shipbuilding, military strategy and the role of women. Although the podcast is a first for Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft has tried to educate players about the games' historical settings through other means.


Google's sleek new smart speaker is already a contender

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Nest Audio costs $99.99 and comes in five colors. There hasn't been a new Google Home speaker since way back in 2016 and now Google is giving its OG smart speaker a major upgrade with the Nest Audio. We're still getting to know the Nest Audio, but here are some important specs to note: The speaker keeps the same fabric-wrapped look of previous Google speakers like the Nest Mini, but it takes on a more unique oval-shape and it's taller than many other smart speakers on the market. It doesn't come with any USB-C or auxiliary input ports, but unlike the Sonos One, it supports both WiFi and Bluetooth connection. As you'd expect in a modern smart speaker, the Nest can be paired with other Nest speakers for multi-room audio.


New Google Nest Audio speaker packs a huge punch for $99

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The old Google Home that looked like an air freshener has been reinvented, renamed and redesigned to rock out. Now known as Nest Audio, the new editions look more like a tiny, traditional speaker, this time in a multitude of colors (pink, blue, green, white and black), sell for less than the original Home ($99.99 versus $129.99) and the big news is a major sound upgrade. Nest Audio, available today, is still being sold as a personal assistant to run your smart home, answer trivia questions, set reminders, get news updates, translate languages and, of course, play music and podcasts. But the speaker, which runs on the Google Assistant, still lags Amazon's Echo speakers and the Alexa system in doing many obvious tasks that various Google help pages claims it can do, but either can't or require so much setup that consumers will be stymied. But let's start with what does work well: playing music. For $99, you get a speaker with vastly improved sound than the original, in a slightly larger body.


How to use Triller, in case TikTok actually gets banned

Mashable

TikTok may be the app-du-jour, but its presence in the United States may not last. Enter Triller, the video sharing platform emerging as the alternative to TikTok amid uncertainty over the app's future. Popular stars like Charli D'Amelio, the most followed person on TikTok, are starting their own accounts on Triller. D'Amelio is still posting on TikTok as usual, however. Triller, which began as a niche music discovery app because of its "AI-powered" editing features, has been around since 2015.


Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 review: A $500 soundbar with multi-room audio, but no Dolby Atmos

PCWorld

The two-year-old Yamaha BAR 400 is one of the least expensive soundbars around to offer high-resolution multi-room audio support, but you'll need to sacrifice other features--such as Dolby Atmos and a center channel--in the bargain. This 2.1-channel model boasts support for Yamaha's robust MultiCast multi-room audio platform and Apple's AirPlay 2, and it serves up solid 2D movie audio and top-notch music performance. But the $500 MusicCast BAR 400 lacks native support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, the two leading 3D audio formats that are fast becoming de rigueur in this price range, and its DTS Virtual:X mode sounds too harsh to be a viable substitute. With its $500 price tag and support for Yamaha's high-resolution MusicCast multi-room audio system, the two-year-old Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 is something of a throwback in Yamaha's soundbar lineup. In the past couple of years, Yamaha has focused more on budget-priced DTS Virtual:X soundbars (think $350 or less), none of which support MusicCast.


Neural Generation Meets Real People: Towards Emotionally Engaging Mixed-Initiative Conversations

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Building an open-domain socialbot that talks to real people is challenging - such a system must meet multiple user expectations such as broad world knowledge, conversational style, and emotional connection. Our socialbot engages users on their terms - prioritizing their interests, feelings and autonomy. As a result, our socialbot provides a responsive, personalized user experience, capable of talking knowledgeably about a wide variety of topics, as well as chatting empathetically about ordinary life. Neural generation plays a key role in achieving these goals, providing the backbone for our conversational and emotional tone. At the end of the competition, Chirpy Cardinal progressed to the finals with an average rating of 3.6/5.0,