Samsung CEO says the Galaxy Home speaker will arrive by April


While the Samsung Galaxy Home was nowhere to be seen at the company's Galaxy Unpacked event held today, the smart speaker apparently has not been forgotten. DJ Koh, vice chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics, told CNET that the company plans to launch the long-awaited device by April. At this point, the Galaxy Home has been a long time coming. First announced by Samsung in August 2018 at the company's Galaxy Note 9 event, the competitor for the Apple HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo has been relegated to the background for the most part. It was on display at CES 2019 back in January and was able to perform some commands but was still limited in its functionality.

Apple acquires talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString


Apple has just bought up the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod, and its voice strategy. Apple has reportedly acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, according to Axios' Dan Primack and Ina Fried. The company makes voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to power those experiences, and toys like talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString went on to raise $44 million. Apple's Siri is seen as lagging far behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of developer ecosystem.

Apple HomePod comes to China at $400 amid iPhone sales woes


Apple is finally launching HomePod in China, but the timing is tricky as the premium device will have to wrestle with local competitors and a slowing economy. The firm said over the weekend that its smart speaker will be available in Mainland China and Hong Kong starting January 18, adding to a list of countries where it has entered including US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. The Amazon Echo competitor, which launched in mid-2017, is already available to Chinese buyers through third-party channels like "daigou", or shopping agents who bring overseas products into China. What separates the new model is that it supports Mandarin, the official language on Mainland China and Cantonese, which is spoken in Hong Kong and China's most populated province Guangdong. Previously, Chinese-speaking users had to converse with HomePod in English until a system update in December that added Siri support for the two Chinese dialects.

Apple Just Unveiled A Breakthrough Artificial Intelligence System


Today, Apple is holding its Worldwide Developers Conference. So far, they have announced a host of updates. For example, during the presentation, the company noted that their watchOS 4 is going to include advanced AI and be far more personalized. Moving forward, Siri intelligence will automatically display information that is relevant to you on the face of the watch using advanced machine learning technologies that improve and "learn" over time. Ultimately, this means that the more you interact with the watch, the smarter it gets.

Apple's iPhone privacy billboard is a clever CES troll, but it's also inaccurate


Even without a booth, Apple is looming large over CES. In a giant billboard that went up on the side of the Springhill Suites Marriott hotel near the Vegas strip late last week, Apple is touting the privacy features baked into the iPhone, telling people, "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone." It's a clever and effective ad that plays off the classic Vegas slogan. In an age of regular data breaches and scary hacks, privacy and security have become a really big deal. Apple has made privacy a major component of its iPhone sales pitch for years, so while the ad might not mention Google, Samsung, or Amazon, it's clearly aimed at trolling Apple's biggest rivals and their somewhat laissez-faire approach to privacy.

Amazon Echo, Google Home: How Europe fell in love with smart speakers


Europeans are embracing smart speakers from Google, Amazon and Apple despite concerns about the technology's potential to invade privacy in the home. The race is on to develop the smartest speaker of them all, with the Google Assistant-powered Google Home currently in the lead on understanding questions and giving the right answers, according to one IQ test. Apple's Siri-based HomePod is catching up with Google, while Amazon's Echo devices enjoy the largest marketshare worldwide, with the largest number of buyers coming from the US followed by China. But even in privacy-sensitive Europe, more people are now willing to bring smart speakers in the privacy of their own homes. According to analyst IDC, smart speaker sales exploded in Europe in the third quarter, growing 116.7 percent compared to last year -- even before Google and Amazon expand the availability of Echo and Home speakers to Italy and Spain.

OK Google, who's got the smartest speaker of them all?


If you want a smart speaker that understands your questions and actually gives the right answer, top of the pile right now might be Google Home, according to a comparison of the devices by Loup Ventures. The company compared the performance of Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana on a set of 800 questions each. All of them almost perfectly understood the queries, but Google came out ahead on answers by delivering the correct answer to 88 percent of questions. Siri, perhaps surprisingly, came in second and answered 75 percent of questions correctly, followed by Alexa, which scored 72.5 percent, and Cortana, trailing at 63 percent, according to Loup Ventures. Siri wasn't included in Loup Ventures' 2017 smart speaker face off as Apple's HomePod wasn't yet released.

Apple Music on Amazon Echo review: Not as good as HomePod, but good enough


Apple will never admit it, but the arrival of Apple Music on Amazon's Echo speakers is an obvious admission that HomePod isn't getting the job done. Don't get me wrong, HomePod is a fantastic-sounding "smart" speaker, but its premium pricing, limited Siri capabilities, and missing support for third-party streaming services like Spotify and Pandora make it a device only an Apple fanatic would appreciate. Putting Apple Music on Amazon's Echo devices expands Apple's music-streaming service beyond its own smart speaker and potentially gives it access via over 50 million sold devices if The Information's sales numbers are remotely accurate (Amazon doesn't share how many unit sales for Echo devices). Since installing an Echo in my home three years ago (just thinking about how spoiled I am by Alexa is kind of mind-blowing), Spotify (requires premium account), Amazon Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio have been my go-to music services on the smart speaker and I can almost always find the song I want to hear between the four services. I can't say I've been pining for Apple Music on Echo speakers.

How to link Apple Music to your Amazon Echo and set it as the default service


Listen up, Apple Music subscribers--HomePod isn't the only smart speaker that can handle your tunes anymore. Apple has teamed up with Amazon to allow streaming on Echo devices, so all of your songs, albums, and playlists are good to go. Here's how to set it all up: Setting up Apple Music on your Echo device takes just a few taps. Now you can say, "Alexa, play'Imagine' by Ariana Grande on Apple Music" and it'll start playing. You can also ask Alexa to stream playlists, charts, and Beats 1 radio.

From Subaru Ascent to Apple Watch Series 4: The biggest product launches of 2018


Ed Baig gives a look at the new Apple Watch Series 4. One key new feature: fall detection. The changes in the consumer marketplace this year have been largely driven by new tech products. Our world has been shaped in large part by just a handful of revolutionary consumer products and the companies behind them. Such milestones include the first modern automobile, first sold by Mercedes in 1901, and the first smartphone, introduced to the market by IBM in 1994. While the impact new products have on the world rarely rises to the significance of the first personal automobile, each year brings a new lineup of consumer products, some of them the first of their kind, to the market – and 2018 is no exception.