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.
Apple has rolled out HomePod Software 14.1, adding intercom functionality and a handful of other updates to its devices a month before the launch of the HomePod Mini. The 14.1 update allows the speakers to work as an intercom system, sending announcements to other HomePods in the house. Messages can be sent to specific rooms or zones on your network. Today's update also brings new Siri features to HomePod, including the ability to stop alarms, timers and media across devices. Siri suggestions will now appear in Maps after asking HomePod about a location, and search results can be sent from the HomePod to your iPhone. Podcasts are getting voice recognition support for multiple users as well.
The debut of the Always Home Cam proved that Amazon is still willing to fly in the face of convention as well as potential home intruders. However, as I noted when I wrote about the home security drone last month, Amazon's 2020 device launch provided a stark contrast to previous years' events when Alexa's steward pushed boundaries into novel products like clocks and eyeglasses. Indeed, Amazon recently began shipping Day 1 Editions of one of these products: The Echo Loop ring, a $130 black titanium chunk of an extremity accessory that connects to smartphones via Bluetooth. It allows users to issue Alexa commands by pressing a button prior to speaking closely into it as well as hear responses by holding its back up to one's ear. It can thus act as an impractical Bluetooth headset.
Google's influence in our lives is overwhelming, which is perhaps one of the reasons the Department of Justice and several state attorney generals banded together to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the company. But just how wide is Google's reach? We decided to take a look, and the results may surprise you. Start with the fact that Google ads are all over the Internet, and despite the initial stated goal of "organizing the world's information," the Alphabet unit is designed to have more ads appear, to keep the earnings up. In its most recent earnings, Alphabet reported $38.30 billion for Google.
I've often wondered why Google doesn't come out with an answer to Amazon's Echo Dot with Clock. Lenovo must have been on the same wavelength, because that's just what the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is. Actually, it's a better value than the Echo Dot with Clock, because it simultaneously displays all the information you want most frequently--not just the time--and it does it for $10 less than the 4th-gen Echo Dot with Clock. A shrunken sibling of the Lenovo Smart Clock, the Essential is a smart speaker with a 4-inch LED display that shows the current time (with an a.m./p.m. indicator, unless it's set to 24-hour mode), the day of the week (the date would be more useful), the current outdoor temperature (obtained via the internet), and an indicator for an alarm (if one is set). Four LEDs on its face light up when you say the'Hey Google' wake word.
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.
Google promised an Assistant driving mode for phones would arrive in mid-2019, but that clearly didn't happen -- over a year passed without any sign of it. It appears to be ready, though. XDA-Developers has discovered (via Android Police) that Google Assistant's driving mode is at least partially enabled for Android users. The interface has changed considerably from the I/O 2019 demo you see above, but the concept remains the same with large buttons and text that let you chat, message and play music while keeping your driving distractions to a minimum. The rollout appears to be server-side, and might be part of a test.
Remember Facebook's automated personal assistant, M, that was released in a bid to compete with Alexa and Siri? After a series of embarrassing mishaps due to poorly trained algorithms, Facebook abruptly pulled the plug. They weren't alone; chatbots are infamous for putting their metaphorical feet in their mouths. While these debacles are tough to watch, the underlying problem is not artificial intelligence (AI) itself. AI succeeds when underpinned with sound strategy and well-trained models.
The follow-up to Apple's $300 HomePod has finally arrived, with the smaller, spherical HomePod mini, complete with onboard Siri and a new "intercom" feature. The new smart speaker is slated to arrive next month. Unveiled alongside the iPhone 12 during Apple's "Hi, Speed" event on Tuesday, the $99 HomePod mini (pre-orders begin November 6 for shipping on November 16) takes a page from Amazon's revamped Echo speakers (or is it the other way around?) with a ball-shaped, fabric-covered industrial design. Set to arrive in white and space gray flavors, the HomePod mini has a backlit touchpad on top with integrated volume and playback controls. The new HomePod mini comes equipped with a full-range driver and dual passive radiators, while the speaker itself is powered by Apple's S5 chip. Inside the 3.3-inch shell is a full-range, neodymium magnet-powered dynamic driver, a pair of force-cancelling passive radiators, and an acoustic wave guide at the bottom that's designed to deliver 360-degree sound.
On Tuesday, Oct. 13 Apple announced the latest version of the HomePod. Say hello to the HomePod mini -- in white or Space Gray -- for $99. Pitching the HomePod mini as a smart speaker that puts "your privacy and security at the forefront," Apple is clearly attempting to differentiate itself from smart home competitors like Facebook and Amazon. "With HomePod mini, only after'Hey Siri' is recognized locally on the device, or the user activates Siri by touch, will any information be sent to Apple servers," reads an accompanying blog post. "Requests are not associated with the user's Apple ID, and personal information is not sold to advertisers or other organizations. HomePod mini works with iPhone to complete requests for messages and notes on device without revealing that information to Apple."