Have you ever used Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, or Amazon Alexa to make decisions for you? Perhaps you asked it what new movies have good reviews, or to recommend a cool restaurant in your neighborhood. Artificial intelligence and virtual assistants are constantly being refined, and may soon be making appointments for you, offering medical advice, or trying to sell you a bottle of wine. Although AI technology has miles to go to develop social skills on par with ours, some AI has shown impressive language understanding and can complete relatively complex interactive tasks. In several 2018 demonstrations, Google's AI made haircut and restaurant reservations without receptionists realizing they were talking with a non-human.
Voice assistants are becoming an essential part of our daily lives. When Apple's Siri hit markets in 2011, it managed to gain an impressive attraction of tech enthusiasts, yet no one was certain about how this novelty shall bring a tech revolution. Today, we are regular users of Google Voice Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and many more. Things took a turn when Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod went mainstream in 2017. All these instances converge on how voice assistants are proving themselves as a tech enabler with impressive possibilities. Not only in households, but they are also slowly proving to be useful in the business quarters too.
Only 10 years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was just a lofty concept for consumers, appearing in pop culture references or fleeting news stories. Today, it pervades every corner of life, from Siri on our iPhones, to smart home security systems, to the recommended products in our Amazon feed. Everywhere we look, AI has become part of our daily processes -- and as we live, learn and work from home amidst the pandemic, this has only accelerated. It's safe to say that AI is no longer just a novel concept; it's a convenience we've come to expect in day-to-day life. What's interesting to me is that, in customer care, the benefits of AI are not quite so widely welcomed.
Amazon's smallest Echo has evolved quite a bit over the years. The first Amazon Echo Dot was small and puck-like but didn't have very good audio. In 2018, the company upgraded the Dot's speakers to a new 1.6-inch driver that gave it a lot more bass and overall better performance, plus it had a much more stylish fabric-clad exterior. Last year, Amazon added a new model called the Echo Dot with Clock, which is basically the same thing but with a digital clock on the front. In 2020, however, the company has decided to go… round.
Amazon users in the UK can now try and answer questions that Alexa doesn't know. The US tech company has announced the general availability of Alexa Answers in the UK – a crowd-sourced method of making its Alexa digital assistant more intelligent. The online hub offers users the chance to answer questions that Amazon's smart assistant Alexa didn't know the answer to. Users just need to sign in to their Amazon account at the Alexa Answers webpage and start browsing unanswered questions that they think they can answer. The UK launch will help Alexa get smart on topics specific to the UK, including the Spice Girls and the two-pound coin, Amazon hopes. In return for their knowledge, Alexa Answers users can earn points and get onto leaderboards on the hub.
The smart speaker that got things started is back, and it looks a little different now. Nathan Ingraham reviewed the new spherical Amazon Echo, and the good news is that no matter what you think of its looks, it sounds better than ever. Adding an extra tweeter -- not to mention the built-in Zigbee home hub -- seems to have made all the difference. That odd shape does mean its indicator light is a bit hidden, but when the sound is good enough that buying two to create a stereo setup seems like a reasonable option, maybe we can get over it… maybe. Garmin is offering Twitch broadcasters and other game streamers a way to layer their heart rate and other metrics into their streams, with an Esports Edition of its Instinct GPS smartwatch.
The applications of artificial intelligence have grown over the past decade. Here are examples of artificial intelligence that we use in our everyday lives. The words artificial intelligence may seem like a far-off concept that has nothing to do with us. But the truth is that we encounter several examples of artificial intelligence in our daily lives. From Netflix's movie recommendation to Amazon's Alexa, we now rely on various AI models without knowing it.
The Bose Home 300's sleek design fits in well with most decor. We weren't sure what to expect upon opening the Bose Home 300 for testing, but we were pleasantly surprised on almost every level. While the sound quality can't quite compete with the (much larger) Echo Studio, the Bose Home 300 allows users to choose between Alexa or Google Assistant; it has handy preset buttons on the top of the speaker; and it can stream audio over Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, or via an old-school auxiliary cable. Through its app and smart assistants, the Bose Home 300 can play music from a large number of streaming services, such as Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Tidal, Pandora, and even Apple Music via Airplay or Bluetooth. The compatible music and podcast sources will vary a bit depending on which smart assistant you choose (you can only use one assistant at a time, however it is very easy to switch in the Bose app). Though not any larger, this speaker is much louder than most of the other smart speakers we included in this roundup.
SAVE $46: As of Oct. 22, Best Buy is running an early Black Friday deal where you can get a third-gen Amazon Echo Dot (normally $49.99) and a free Sengled smart bulb (normally $14.99) for just $18.99 -- a 71% total savings. Amazon's third-gen Echo Dot never officially sold out on Prime Day, but you may recall that its pricing was so good during the two-day annual shopping event -- 62% off, baby-- that several variants were back-ordered through early December. With that in mind, we've got some good news and some bad news to share. First, the bad (because it's 2020 and you're probably sort of used to it by now): The bestselling smart speaker from 2018 is back up to $39.99 on Amazon and all four colors are now back-ordered as late as Dec. 16, with estimated delivery dates as far back as Dec. 31 even with speedy Prime shipping. SEE ALSO: Black Friday is going to be weird this year -- and that's a good thing But all is not lost: The good news is that Best Buy now has the Echo Dot on sale at its Prime Day pricing, and three variants are ready to ship out ASAP. (That's basically the retailer equivalent of a power move.)
Google is said to be testing a smart display feature that would activate Google Assistant by proximity instead of using the "Hey Google" or "OK Google" wake words. Leaker Jan Boromeusz posted a YouTube video (via Android Central) that shows the feature in an apparent internal Nest Hub Max firmware build. Boromeusz is able to use the voice assistant without first saying one of the wake words. The Assistant UI disappears whenever Boromeusz stays still or stops talking, but you can see it pop back up when he moves a little closer to the smart display. It's unclear whether Google has plans to bring the feature, which is codenamed Blue Steel, to the public version of the firmware. It merely appears to be in testing for now.