Amazon’s Alexa add music to their routines

[kc_row use_container=”yes” force=”no” column_align=”middle” video_mute=”no” _id=”921296″][kc_column width=”12/12″ video_mute=”no” _id=”795977″]

Using routines on smart home devices is pretty awesome as it is. Saying just one phrase and having loads of cool stuff happen at the same time? Makes you feel kind of like a wizard, or at least, pretty epic. So any updates of capabilities of routines on our Alexa devices is always going to be pretty exciting, and get this! These new updates can help you LEARN…! Or….just listen to more of those true crime podcasts you love. Amazon has finally added music to Alexa’s routine function, so you can now add any music from Spotify, Amazon music, Pandora (NOT Apple Music!) to your morning routine, including playlists which can also be set to shuffle. As well as this, you can of course add any of the podcasts from these streaming services (learn Italian in the am, or something funny to get you up on the right side of bed!) Usefully, you can also pre-set the volume for each routine, so you’re not blasting out the tunes at 6am, even if you had it on loud the night before. Google Assistant, of course, already has music as part of it’s routines function but these are only available in the U.S at the moment.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”416650″][kc_column width=”49.31%” video_mute=”no” _id=”708177″]

Alice Towndrow
Article Author

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”21.85%” video_mute=”no” _id=”883899″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”28.8%” video_mute=”no” _id=”149476″][/kc_column][/kc_row]

Amazon is in it for the long haul

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”496607″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”547754″]

Amazon are on a hiring spree for Alexa, taking on not only more than Google are for their home automation department but more than google is hiring for….well, everything. Amazon are really going hard at the moment and are on the lookout for developers, engineers and analysts amongst others and they currently have job listings for more than 1000 potential workers. So what does this mean? For Amazon, it obviously shows that they’re committed to the growth and success of Alexa, which isn’t surprising given the popularity of the Amazon Echo. It also perhaps demonstrates that they’re continuing to be aggressive in competing with Google Assistant. As most of the positions open are technical ones, Amazon is clearly pushing forward to make Alexa even more advanced in the near future. Of course, this doesn’t discount Google, as Amazon’s workforce as a whole is still comparatively smaller than Google’s, by about 200,000 people. It’s also important to remember that Google has always been a technology company, and many of the resources of the overall company are used towards Google Assistant, whereas Amazon had to create a whole technology department essentially from scratch. So that doesn’t mean that Google are scrimping on their Assistant by not hiring as many people: they already have the numbers.

Of course, with this well publicised move, Amazon are making their position clear: they’re betting big on Alexa.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”729401″ _collapse=”1″][kc_column width=”49.31%” video_mute=”no” _id=”100852″]

Alice Towndrow
Article Author

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”21.85%” video_mute=”no” _id=”452656″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”28.8%” video_mute=”no” _id=”572222″][/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”889995″][kc_column width=”12/12″ video_mute=”no” _id=”732867″]

Subscribe to About Automation to stay up to date on this subject, and many others.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row _id=”319706″][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”525110″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”327597″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”351453″ _css_inspector_marginer=”{`kc-css`:{`any`:{`box`:{`padding|`:`3px inherit inherit inherit`}}}}”]

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row][kc_column width=”12/12″ video_mute=”no” _id=”634908″]

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

Alexa will now allow follow up commands

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”365302″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”235046″]

In the ever-growing tech ‘arms race’, Amazon are committed to making our lives easier, as well as our jaws less sore. Instead of constantly saying ‘Alexa…Alexa…Alexa…’ (or whatever your start up command is), Amazon have released a new update allowing follow up questions to be asked, meaning Alexa will stay awake for an extra five seconds listening out for another question, without the need for you to say her name (don’t wear it out?) again and again.

For the moment, the questions need to be separate, you can’t combine them, but it will make for a more natural conversation with Alexa, as she will also try and pick out whether you’re talking to her or to someone else, or even if it’s the TV that she can hear. If for some reason you don’t have any more questions or need anything else, a simple ‘thank you’ will send her back off to sleep, which is pretty natural and something probably 90% of us say to our devices anyway (got to be polite)! Of course, it’s definitely in the new stage at the moment, only available in English and can only be used when music is off, but it’s good to know that Amazon understands the little annoyances with these devices and that they’re working towards a more natural interaction with our smart gadgets.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”142006″][kc_column width=”49.31%” video_mute=”no” _id=”999331″]

Alice Towndrow
Article Author

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”21.85%” video_mute=”no” _id=”456519″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”28.8%” video_mute=”no” _id=”413554″][/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”303141″][kc_column width=”12/12″ video_mute=”no” _id=”196209″]

Subscribe to About Automation to stay up to date on this subject, and many others.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row _id=”235743″][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”613084″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”396865″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”291527″ _css_inspector_marginer=”{`kc-css`:{`any`:{`box`:{`padding|`:`3px inherit inherit inherit`}}}}”]

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

Google and Amazon going head to head AGAIN

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”886962″][kc_column width=”42.62%” video_mute=”no” _id=”33874″]

Alice Towndrow
Article Author

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”24.03%” video_mute=”no” _id=”907999″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”953327″][/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”328228″ _collapse=”1″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”663254″]

I guess, in the arena of war, you can’t afford to help the other side. That’s exactly what Amazon decided when they announced that they were to stop listing the new Nest products on their site. The Google-owned smart home system retaliated with a move to pull all of it’s products from the amazon site, leaving ‘commander’ (Amazon CEO), Jeff Bezos, to bet big on Amazon’s own smart devices. It’s not entirely unsurprising that in the battle to lead the smart home market, Amazon would want to use their vast scope, and all their website’s immense popularity, to sell and promote their own product and by Nest’s own admission, its been on the cards for a while.

The Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have been going head to head for a long time, already, so it’s only natural that Amazon would want to up the stakes and have a ‘sink or swim’ moment with their own website and product. Of course, this kind of competitive spirit has been demonstrated by Apple for years, both with Google (over their maps, remember the dire beginnings of ‘Apple maps’?!) and of course with Amazon itself, who stopped selling Apple TV on their site for a time.As a wise person (nearly) said: all’s fair in the technology war, and with google retaliating by blocking their YouTube app on some Fire TVs, it will remain to be seen who has the upper hand in this battle.

[/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row __section_link=”7954″ __section_title=”Subscribe” _id=”962311″ _collapse=”1″][/kc_row]

Alexa lost her voice FOR REAL

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”47930″][kc_column width=”42.62%” video_mute=”no” _id=”349501″]

Alice Towndrow
Article Author

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”24.03%” video_mute=”no” _id=”341304″]

[/kc_column][kc_column width=”33.33%” video_mute=”no” _id=”17661″][/kc_column][/kc_row][kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”434084″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”349338″]

Users of Amazon’s Alexa were left confused, due to the smart device seemingly succumbing to the AWS outage. Poor Alexa has been noted to give replies stating ‘Sorry, something went wrong’, or losing her voice completely, giving no reply. The outage occurred on Friday, affecting homes and businesses across the U.S, particularly the East Coast and California. Amazon Web Services, for their part, were investigating this ‘increased packet loss’ and within a few hours, noted on their dashboard that they had resolved the issue, stating within 4 hours of the first update that the connection loss had been solved.

Other servers that rely on AWS, such as Slack, were also not working during the connection loss, leaving many businesses who rely on Slack or Alexa, at a loss. Although Alexa could be accessed using the app with limited success, Amazon’s leading lady losing her voice is eerily reminiscent of the company’s Super Bowl ad just last month, where Alexa’s lost voice is replaced by various celebrities. Sadly, this time there was no Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson or Cardi B to take her place! Although, with reports coming in of Alexa emitting a creepy laugh, the silence could be preferable? Hopefully, these two issues are the last we hear of for a while from Amazon and Alexa. 

I wonder what jeff bezos has to say about thier semi predictive superbowl ad now ? lucky for consumers we diddnt have rebel wilson on a call with our speaker while in the bath….

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

Ring is the latest company to be bought by Amazon

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”189678″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”166246″]

Amazon has made an estimated BILLION DOLLAR acquisition to purchase home security and digital doorbell company RING; the successful smart home security company confirmed the deal this week tell USA CNBC news that “We’ll be able to achieve even more by partnering with an inventive, customer-centric company like Amazon. We look forward to being a part of the Amazon team as we work toward our vision for safer neighbourhoods.”

It is expected that Amazon will keep RING as an independent company as it has done so previously with Game streaming company witch and shoe company Zappos. Amazon has previously worked closely with RING and has now purchased the company with part of its Alexa fund. The market has reacted quickly to this news with stocks for company alarm.com dropping immediately and Amazon stocks up by a further 2%.

It is not the first nor as we predict the last smart home company acquisition by Amazon. With smart security company blink being bought out by Amazon last year, and reports of Amazon making offers for startup smart lock company August Homes. acquisitions like this show amazons dedication to being a smart home central company,

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

Amazon Alexa is coming to Windows 10 PCs

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”266873″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”913145″]

Amazons Digital Assistant seems to be compatible with almost anything these days, except your Windows PC. Both Amazon and Microsoft announcing a new assistant partnership which was due to invoked in late 2017. However, both companies seemed to have failed to meet the integration deadline and now Amazon Alexa is arriving on Windows 10 PCs to challenge Microsoft’s built-in Cortana assistant.

HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all PC companies that plan to integrate Alexa into a range of Windows 10 laptops and desktops being released this year, which was announced at each respective companies CES display. However, integration will require a particular Alexa app for Windows that should be available in the second quarter of 2018.

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

How to make your Australian Amazon Alexa work with all alexa skills

As mentioned in the last article, many Aussie Alexa Users were frustrated when the AUS Alexa App and Software rolled out, claiming there were not enough skills or that their previous settings and smart home devices are no longer compatible. Well, FEAR NO MORE!

After speaking to a member of the Alexa team last week, I was given this VERY simple how-to guide. By following the steps below, you can successfully make your Amazon Echo Device compatible with your favourite brands and back to the USA software and app. With the added bonus of it recognising you are in Australia and not having to jump through a million hoops just to get the app on your phone.

This guide will work for all Australian marketplace compatible Alexa devices (such as any Alexa device sold on Amazon.com.au)Australian Skills and the Australian English language setting are NOT SUPPORTED on:

  •     Amazon Echo (1st Generation – bought before 2017)
  •     Echo Dot (1st Generation- bought before 2017)
  •     Echo Show
  •     Echo Spot
  •     Amazon Tap
IMPORTANT!!! *If you migrate an Alexa device to Australian from another country, you won't have access to digital content purchased from unsupported services, such as Amazon Music*

This guide will work whether or not your device is already active and registered, brand new, bought in Australia with Australian software, or bought previously from the American (or other countries) marketplace unactivated or activated.  if you had previously had a working American Amazon Alexa device and it lost all your setting and smart home features when the Australian software rolled out, this can get back your old account and settings and will let you pick u with your home automation and Alexa skills where you left them.

FOR PREVIOUSLY ACTIVATED DEVICES

To Complete the next steps you MUST have an Australian Amazon Account AND American Amazon account. The Echo device you wish to change should be already on your Australian account. ( this also works to move other countries Alexa to Australia,  just in reverse)

  1. Log into the Amazon marketplace your device is registered to and hover over my account menu, in the drop-down select 'Manage Your Content and Devices' link
  2. Go to the My Devices tab in the Manage Your Content and Devices, and find the device you wish to change and choose to deregister your device.
  3. then you just simply register the device again using the Alexa app, logging out of the olde account and back into the desired countries marketplace account, and then select your country's default language.

FOR NEW DEVICES

Now, this is REALLY easy part…. just change your country settings to your local Amazon website to get access to content and features on your Echo device.

You can change your country settings by visiting Manage Your Content and Devices and following these steps: To migrate your account to Amazon.com (or any other desired country including back to australia when the skils are availble), please follow the steps mentioned below.

  1. Visit the Manage Your Content and Devices page on Amazon.com.au (http://www.amazon.com.au/mycd)
  2. Select the Settings tab.
  3. Under the Country Settings heading you will see text stating

“You are currently linked to shopping on Amazon.com.au. Click here to learn more about other Amazon sites you are eligible to shop on based on your country of residence.”

  1. Select the link to see the available options.
  2. Click the “Learn about transferring your Kindle account to Amazon.com” link.
  3. If you're happy to return to Amazon.com, select the “Transfer your Kindle account to Amazon.com” button and follow the on-screen instructions.

You can migrate back to Amazon.com.au whenever you wish just repeat this process to the Australian website.

If you get stuck or are confused, or unsure of anything above, you can ask questions in the comments below, contact us via web-form, or on Facebook.   Alternatively, you can contact the Amazon support team.

Enjoy getting your 'Smart Home & Automation Skills' back.

Dissappointed in Australian Echo Devices?

[kc_row use_container=”yes” _id=”247676″][kc_column width=”12/12″ _id=”999521″]

Amazon's launch in Australia had a few Road bumps along the way, With false starts eventually making an Underwhelming catalogue. But the online retail giant did promise. Bring its own smart AI assistant. To Aussie Shores. In early 2018. That promise has been kept. With the echo range. Available in stores and online and with comes Australia's own true blue Alexa. While the echo range was the same physically as the American line, it was the ai assistant software that makes the unit unique to the Australian culture.

The Australian Amazon Alexa app launched in the past week, and the Amazon Alexa software was a major letdown for many, first off and not a huge issue is that Alexa has lost her bubbly sing-song voice, and now speaks in a thicker “more Aussie” accent. Which frankly sounds like an insult to many Australians, unless you sound like an 'ocker' computer. Alexa's Australian voice doesn't sound quite as natural as Google's, especially on the tiny Echo Dot which falls significantly short of the Google Home Mini when it comes to sound quality.

The biggest problem that many early users have though is the LACK OF SUPPORT, AND COMPATIBILITY Australia has received for Alexa. While it does feature a long list of Australian companies and websites that Alexa can connect to, which is excellent for weather recipes or news, the list of compatible devices skills … TINY!

For the company that single handly fueled the smart assistant and voice-controlled market in the states, and with significant competition from Google beating them to market on our shores, the smart devices companies that many consumers around the world turn to are nowhere to be seen.

It has not been announced why Amazon was unable to get more well-known companies to be ready launch day, but an unofficial source within Amazon told About Automation that they plan to release those skills at a later stage. “With more skills to be built on and release, and to expect an update to the skills list in the coming weeks”. To understand where I am coming from with this, let me list you all the “smart Home” Skills Alexa Aus can currently use.

Philips Hue

Harmony

Telstra Smart Home

LIFX

Koogeek smark Home (not work with p2)

Neo smart Blinde controller

YD Home2

Vertilux Shades (VTi Celtic Motors)

MyArticSpa

Feit_electric

eHomeLife

HomeMate New

mydlink Smart

Lanbon Smart Living

Meross

SSG Smart Home

Yeelight

Node-RED

B One VoiceAct

Harmony

mydlink Home

TP-LINK Kasa

Yonomi

AND THAT'S IT!!!!!!

Brands we want and need are ones like Samsung SmartThings, Wemo, Nest, Osram, eWeLink. I could go on, but I won't bore you. Personally, I find this a significant let down however you can not wholly blame Amazon for this, but with reliable companies like Amazon and Samsung, you do expect a bit more readiness for a major product launch.

There is also small let downs when you compare Alexa to the well established U.S AI Software. For instance, the Australian software can keep a shopping list, but they can't purchase directly from Amazon (yet). Nor can they control Amazon's Fire Stick for streaming, This combined with the lack of skill to recognise different users by voice. The average consumer would seem to think that Amazon is still treating Australia as a second-rate country,  which does appear to be the leading reason why we are not on par with the US or even the UK technology market. Large companies just seem to think we don't want or need it. With companies like Google, we ahead of this curve, however still fail to provide the services they do to other countries, but beating Amazon to market for home assistant hardware has already given Google a big head start. 

Now on to what the Alexa Australian Software CAN do…

for music streaming, you have a choice of iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify and the newly released Amazon Music Unlimited. The echo dot, in particular, doesnt have a powerful sound like the Google home devices. However, All the Echo speakers have an impressive trick up their sleeve: the ability to connect to an external speaker via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable.

Like Google, you can create routines such as “Alexa, good morning” or “Alexa, I'm home” to trigger a string of smart home commands. This will prove to be a favourite set up for many smart homes.

If all this bad talk from many reviews and news outlets is dragging you down, or you already have an Alexa device and are sick of asking what the weather is like? Or to tell you a joke. There is hope yet.

The good news is as mentioned before amazon echo devices are identical to the units sold in America. It's just the software that changes its compatibility. The way it tells what country you are is far more straightforward than it seems, for now, if you which to continue to use American Alexa software you can follow this guide to switch countries software.

So your smart home can continue to function until the skills are more readily available in australia.

[/kc_column][/kc_row]

AMAZON AUSTRALIA SOFTWARE DROPPED EARLY!

IN BREAKING NEWS – a fluke discovery for any Australian users of Amazon Alexa.
If you have shipped an Amazon Echo device from the UK or USA, and have had to do some tricky set up to get it to work, chances are on the 24th of Jan, it stopped working.
Things like not recognising your account, even dropped off basic set up features like switching accounts and answering set up questions. It appeared to have been in factory restored mode, forgetting all of your settings and account.
Well, there’s a reason for that!
As of tonight, Amazon has pushed the Australian Software for Amazon Alexa. (whether or not it was testing or intending this change, remains to be confirmed)
Upon further inspection (and a lot of back and forth trying to figure out why our lights weren’t talking to echo), we discovered that the Amazon app (not available in Australian app stores YET), gave us a preview of what is to come.
Below is a list of all new Australian and New Zealand skills ready to go come on launch day, set to be the 1st of Feb (in 6 days’ time).

Lastly, a massive feat for Austereo. Not only having Hit105 and sister stations all with skills but also Triple M Radio Stations, in particular, have been very busy working on TWO skills per major station. One for news, and one dedicated to sports news. This is a great skill to have for your morning briefing.

  • Triple M news for Sydney
  • Triple M news for Brisbane
  • Triple M news for Melbourne
  • Triple M news for Adelaide
  • Triple M sport for Sydney
  • Triple M sport for Brisbane
  • Triple M sport for Melbourne
  • Triple M sport for Adelaide

We are sure that there are many still to come, these are all the confirmed skills. There are many NON-BRANDED skills like games, facts and jokes ready to go as well.