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Microsoft Brings AI to Power BI, Acquires Startup Bot Developer

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Microsoft seeks to bring artificial intelligence and chatbots as a mainstream part of the workplace and it's taking steps to make it easier for partners to deliver AI capabilities directly into its popular Power BI reporting tool. At an event in San Francisco Wednesday, company officials revealed new AI capabilities coming to its Power BI self-service analytics tool with its new Azure Cognitive Services containers for partners without deep data-science development skills to deliver intelligent apps. Also looking to make it easier for partners to develop bots, Microsoft announced it has agreed to acquire XOXCO, a startup with expertise in conversational AI. Founded in 2013, XOXCO created the first commercial chatbot for Slack, a meeting scheduling app called Howdy. XOXCO is also known for its Botkit developer tool for building chatbot apps and providing native integration with messaging platforms.


New Google Assistant skill will turn on your lights, read you the news and brew your coffee

Daily Mail

Google Assistant wants to help you get out of bed in the morning. The search giant has long given users the ability to set'routines,' or multiple tasks that are triggered by a single command, using its digital assistant. For example, when users say'Hey Google, good morning,' it will turn your lights on, brew your coffee and read you the news. Now, a new addition to Google Assistant makes it so that routines are triggered after you hit snooze on your alarm. Google Assistant wants to help you get out of bed in the morning.


We are moving towards the 'AI of everything'

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AI is a hotly debated topic in every conversation, so much so that we have moved from saying'there is an app for that' to'there is an AI for that'. Oliver Schabenberger, chief operating officer and chief technology officer at SAS, observes how AI has permeated everyday discourse in recent years. Yet, AI has not always been talked about this way. An overhype of the technology led to'AI winter' in the 1980s, he says in his keynote at the Analytics Experience conference this week in Milan. During cocktail gatherings, saying one worked in AI could kill a conversation.


Amazon ordered to give Alexa evidence in double murder case

The Independent

An Amazon Echo smart speaker could provide crucial evidence in a double murder case in the US after a judge in New Hampshire ordered the tech giant to provide investigators with recordings from the device. The speaker, which features the artificial intelligence voice assistant Alexa, was seized from a home in Farmington where two women were killed in January 2017. Timothy Verrill, 36, is charged with killing Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini by stabbing each woman multiple times. Judge Steven M Houran wrote in the court order that an Echo device present in the home may have captured audio that could provide key evidence in the case. How Alexa recorded a family's conversation then sent it to someone How Alexa recorded a family's conversation then sent it to someone "The court finds there is probable cause to believe the server[s] and/or records maintained for or by Amazon.com


Mozilla's gift guide ranks gadgets by how secure they are

Engadget

You can always expect to see a bunch of gift and shopping guides pop up in the weeks, even months, leading to Black Friday and Christmas season. Even Mozilla has released its own take, but instead of making it a list of products to buy, the organization has compiled the most popular gadget gifts and identified which of them are secure and trustworthy. It's called Privacy Not Included, and it will tell you if a particular device can spy on you using its camera, mic and location services. The guide also includes various information about the devices' security features, and those that meet Mozilla's minimum standards are recognized with a badge on their page. Mozilla awarded the badge to 33 products (out of 70), including the Nintendo Switch, Google Home, Amazon Echo speakers, Apple TV/iPad, Sony PS4 and Microsoft XBox One.


Microsoft releases its redesigned Cortana app for iOS

Engadget

Microsoft has released its updated Cortana app for iOS, which includes a design overhaul and new features, including music and podcasts support, an option to set up Cortana-enabled devices and a so-called conversational experience for the voice assistant. Those might prove especially useful for those who buy Microsoft's Surface Headphones, which will ship next week. Cortana 3.0 has deeper integration with other Microsoft services too. It ties into your email, calendar, reminders, meetings and To Dos, while you can use Cortana to join Skype and Teams meetings. The Cortana 3.0 beta landed on both iOS and Android last month, so it's unlikely Android users will have to wait too much longer to get their hands on the updated app.


One of Google Assistant's most popular features is getting more useful

ZDNet

Google on Wednesday announced a series of updates to Google Assistant, including an improvement to broadcast, one of the AI-powered assistant's most popular features. The new updates come ahead of the holiday shopping season, when Google's Assistant-enabled devices -- like the Google Home Hub -- will go toe-to-toe with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. The broadcast feature lets you send a message from your phone to smart speakers and smart displays in your home. Now, the recipients of those messages can reply from a smart display or smart speaker, delivering a message back to your phone. The reply will trigger a notification on your phone, and the message will be transcribed.


Google Home's best feature just got way more useful

Mashable

Google just made one of the best Google Home features a lot more powerful. I'm talking about the "broadcast" feature, which essentially turns your Google Home device into an in-home intercom system. SEE ALSO: Google's Home Hub is an incredible digital photo frame that's also a smart speaker First rolled out a year ago, the feature lets you send messages using the Google Assistant app or another Google Home speaker in a separate location. But up until now, those messages could only go one way. So, for example, you could broadcast from your phone that you were on your way home, or send one from a kitchen speaker letting the rest of your family know that dinner is ready.


Should you bet on these retail innovations?

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The widely predicted adoption of virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) in the consumer experience may have yet to be fully realized, but all retailers must look to the future in order to stay competitive. You need only look to the demise of market giants like Toys R Us or The Limited to remember what happens when you don't. These days, innovation comes in many forms. Experimentation with voice-commerce through smart home assistants Alexa, Google Home, and Siri has been one notable area, as have fully automated stores like Amazon Go. Who is really leading the charge in organic innovation?


Jimmy Fallon will tell you bad jokes on your Amazon Echo

Mashable

Want the voice of one of the most annoying men in America to tell you even more annoying jokes? Jimmy Fallon unveiled a new partnership with Amazon on his Tonight Show on Monday. For the next month, if Echo users ask Alexa to "tell me a joke," she'll introduce her "friend Jimmy." SEE ALSO: Amazon Echo Dot (2018) review: Alexa's gateway drug is more potent than ever "Jimmy" will then deliver the groaners. Fallon is not the first celeb to collaborate with the mega-corporation behind a smart assistant.