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Alexa can do 7 things Google Home can't, including guard your house and create customized skills

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Amazon Echo can do seven things that Google Home can't. Amazon and Google have long competed for the No. 1 smart speaker spot. And while Google Home has features that Echo doesn't, like listening to multiple commands at a time, Amazon still has a set of unique skills that Google can't yet do. Only Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon) can guard your house and alert you if it hears something suspicious while you're gone. It also lets you know when your packages are out for delivery.


The next 10 years of Apple will include self-driving cars, computer glasses, and -- yes -- a much faster iPhone

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First it was Apple Music, and then it was Apple News Plus, and Apple Arcade, and, most recently, Apple TV Plus. In the last few years, Apple has rapidly evolved into a major player in a subscription services market dominated by the likes of Netflix and Spotify. But the company's next big move in that space may be a contraction of sorts: Apple is considering a subscription bundle that would include Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, and Apple News Plus, according to a report from Bloomberg's Gerry Smith and Mark Gurman. And that new bundle could arrive as soon as next year, in 2020, according to the report. The bundle of services that is said to be coming next year doesn't include Apple Arcade, the video game subscription service Apple launched in September.


Amazon's Echo Buds sound great – but not as great as AirPods

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

In the battle of the buds, our "taste test" was striking. A friend and I both compared listening to the Foo Fighters "Learn to Fly" on Amazon's new Echo Buds and the product it aims to emulate, what Apple calls the best-selling headphone "in the world," the AirPods. The Amazon product "sounded tinnier," said Jan Schreiber, a Laguna Beach, California-based photographer. The AirPods had richer bass and a fuller sound. We switched to other songs, and the verdict didn't change.


10 ways Alexa can help you prep for your next party

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

With the holiday season fast approaching, you may be thinking about throwing an end-of-the-year get together for your family and friends. But, planning a party can be a time-consuming process that requires lots of prep, like choosing a date, time, and location; setting a theme; developing a guest list; creating a food and drink menu; picking out decorations--the list goes on and on. Need some help organizing your next soiree? There's no need to bust your budget by hiring an event planner. Instead, you can use Alexa to help you prep.


Apple HomePod 2: rumors, news, and everything we know so far

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Could Apple be about to release the HomePod 2, a smaller version of its Siri smart speaker? That's a question we've been asking ourselves for a while now now – and while Apple's iPhone X launch event on September 12, 2018 didn't reveal what the next HomePod will look like, the HomePod 2 could finally be on the horizon. Nearly a year has passed since then, and the iPhone 11 launch saw no mention of the new Apple HomePod Mini – so, everything is pointing to a 2020 release date. The speculation is that the next version of the HomePod, the Apple HomePod 2, may be a more compact version of the original, with the name Apple HomePod Mini being rumored. According to a Bloomberg report in July 2018, Apple may have been looking to release the HomePod 2 sometime in early 2019, which would make sense based on the release date of the original HomePod – of course, it never actually materialized.


How Amazon's Alexa can help you make a fire playlist

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

From checking the latest football stats to figuring out what to pack your kid for lunch, there's a lot you can ask of your Echo. But, one of the most versatile features of the smart speakers' digital assistant, Alexa, is the ability to create a playlist. Ready to rock out in your kitchen while you prepare your next meal? Or maybe you want to lay your head down on your pillow and drift off into slumber listening to soothing bedtime tunes. Whether you're using our favorite Echo device, the Echo second-generation, or the ever-popular Echo Dot, Alexa can help you create a playlist for any time of the day.


How human curation came back to clean up AI's messes

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Last month, HBO launched a handy website for figuring out which of its original shows to watch. But instead of using computer algorithms to sort through its vast catalog, the company hired people to make their case for each series by making video testimonials. The site, called "Recommended by Humans," is more marketing stunt than product strategy--HBO has no plans to offer an app-based version for mobile or TV devices, and it declined to say how humans might factor into its forthcoming HBO Max service. But its very existence was a statement about our current moment in tech. We've realized that recommendation algorithms aren't as infallible as tech companies once made them out to be, and that handing the curation job to people still has value.


Apple's Siri needs an update. Here are 7 ideas to be more competitive with Alexa and Google

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Not all voice assistants can handle the same requests. We put Siri, Alexa and Google to the test. LOS ANGELES – When you pose the simplest of questions to Siri and it can't answer "what's 1% of $1 million," yet Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant can, you know just how far behind Apple's assistant has fallen to rivals. Siri was the first voice assistant, announced in 2011 for the iPhone 4S, but over the past several years, Amazon and Google have rolled over it, by investing heavily and introducing many new features, while Siri "hasn't moved forward much," says Bret Kinsella, who runs the Voicebot.ai Apple traditionally takes center stage at its Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) to unveil new software features to whet app makers' appetites, and often they involve Siri.


EU to investigate Apple after anti-competition complaint from Spotify

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Apple will be the subject of an anti-competition investigation by the European Union according to a report by the Financial Times. The investigation will focus on allegations by music-streaming platform, Spotify, who filed a complaint with the EU in March. According to the company, Apple -- which offers its own music streaming service called Apple Music -- has unfairly used the popularity of its platform to put Spotify and other companies like it at a disadvantage. This includes it's operating system, iOS, and the App Store. Spotify says Apple puts companies at a disadvantage by leveraging its App Store and iOS to lock companies out and charge them lofty fees.


"Alexa, play some free songs for me"

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Amazon officially began offering free ad-supported music for owners of Echo speakers Thursday, even if they don't subscribe to Prime, Amazon's expedited shipping and entertainment offering. Amazon already provides some 2 million songs free, but without ads to Echo owners who also pay $119 yearly to subscribe to Prime.A more full-featured ad-free music offering, Amazon Music Unlimited, is available for $9.99 monthly, or $7.99 monthly for Prime members. Amazon says it has access to around 50 million songs. The new free service has limitations, more akin to online radio station Pandora than Apple Music in that customers can't request a specific on-demand song. Instead, the request will lead to a music station "based" on that song, or a pre-existing Amazon playlist.