Amazon’s Alexa add music to their routines

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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.

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Alice Towndrow
Article Author

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Beyond Tomorrow, The Future of Housing

Forget about flying cars, self tying shoelaces and hover boards, we know what the real future will look like and it’s ….. kind of already here?
Experts are predicting that in the next five years most of our homes will be completely run by smart technology, building on the success that products like the Amazon Echo have already had. Home automation systems will start doing more of the work for us, predicting what we need before we need it, essentially. So, at the moment we can build a routine by integrating a few tasks together, using one phase, such as ‘good morning’, to turn on the lights and play music. This is going to become even smoother in a few years, apparently, with our home devices getting used to our routine and being able to do things without us asking, like figuring out who’s home based on facial recognition and automatically beginning a routine for that particular person, like turning on the coffee machine and adjusting the heating. All without us saying a word. A.I will also be able to act as a personal assistant, adding information from emails or texts straight into our calendar and predicting, based on our habits, whether we’d like to hear about the traffic or the news before we leave the house. The interesting thing is, a lot of these actions we can do already with our home automation systems, like building a routine or asking about weather. The difference is in the prediction that our home automation systems will make it so easy for us by doing many of our daily requests automatically, fitting seamlessly into our lives. Experts have spoken of ‘Lifestyle benefits’ from these improvements, and it certainly seems like the future of home automation is going to take a lot of stress from our lives. I don’t know about you, but this seems more realistic (and helpful!) than a flying car.

Google Assist expanded routines

‘Google, I’m home.’ Only, our home’s in the wrong place.
Google have rolled out 6 routines, which users of Google Home to modify to their needs. The catch is it’s not actually available in Australia yet. It’s not just us that have update envy for once, in fact the new routines are only available in the U.S at the moment, leaving anyone who’s home is in a different place out of the updates. Since the announcement from Google at the end of last year that they’d be rolling out routines, we’ve been pretty excited. A set of pre-programmed actions that are activated by just a phrase? Sign us up! The six routines available include, Good Morning, I’m Home, or Bedtime, in which you can program your lights to turn off, turn your phone on silent and manage your thermostat if you so choose to. Google’s official line is that other countries can use ‘My Day’ in the time being, hearing our calendar, news briefing and weather report. For us poor Aussies, this feels a bit lacklustre, especially considering we can use routines on the rival Amazon Echo already. So, what’s the holdup, Google? Let’s hope they bring routines to our home automation down under soon!

NBN Co CEO resigns

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NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has announced that come the end of 2018, he will be stepping down in his role, 2 years before the project is currently due to be completed. This latest high profile resignation follows chief corporate affairs officer Karina Keisler’s announcement that she’ll be leaving in the summer. Despite high praise for Malcom Turnbull, who said Morrow ‘turned the project around’, whilst the PM used the opportunity to take a dig at his political rivals, Morris leaves in a period of continuous turmoil for the company. Many customers have been disappointed at the speeds of their NBN, as they were much slower than advertised by partners like Telstra and Optus, the former of which already offered compensation to their customers at the end of last year. More recently the company have delayed the HFC cable rollout due to connection issues on the network, claiming to be focusing on a better quality for the customer, but it’s little consolation to see the new timetable delayed by months. Morrow himself has stated that customers are being left behind in the rollout and despite a positive outlook from the government, a 3rd CEO change in 4 years, coupled with ever altering plans from NBNCo, only adds to the lack of confidence from Australian consumers.

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Ring is the latest company to be bought by Amazon

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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,

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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.

When will Amazon Alexa Launch in Australia?

When?  Where?  How much?

Don't worry Australia, we all share that same frustration, yet another MAJOR TECH ITEM that changed the world as we know it … ANNDD, we don't get it. Its been just over THREE years since Amazon Alexa launched. Back in nov 2014.  It was the move that changed the regular American household. And the tech industry as we know it, SMART ASSISTANTS. Now it's our turn. FINALLY, release date and cost has been released for the Australian Amazon Alexa's

echo dot will be
79 AUD

The Echo will be 149 AUD

Echo plus will be
229 AUD

Shipping February 1 if you order online.

If you order online through Amazon there is a limited time offer of echo dot for $49, echo for $119 and echo plus for $199. WITH free shipping,

Get ready Australia, the Smart Tech is coming.

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 Automation ROUND UP

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The Consumer Electronics Show 2018, was in Las Vegas this year with thousands of companies exhibiting every year, and hundreds of thousands in total attendance its no wonder CES is known as – the global stage of innovation. This year there was over a whopping 900 startup companies in Eureka Park (the home for startup exhibitors). 2018 CES was Jan 9th to 12th this year, a while the number of gadgets featured that will go to market did not overshadow the previous years,  we are on the next leap forward in smart technology.

Couldn’t get to Las Vegas this week? That’s ok; we have you covered. Here are all the headlining products and concepts featured at CES this year. With leading electronic companies such and Samsung, Amazon, Google, Apple, LG, Sony and thousands more previewing and launching multiple products or at least attempting to preview those products – gadgets can get a little bit temperamental at the worst times, as LG learnt while showing-off there home assistant CLOi. Cloi might even show up in shopping carts if she ever learns to listen.

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With so many TV’s, speakers, Smartphones, Cars, Computers and Gaming rigs, there was also a feature of the extensive integration of smart home gadgets and devices. Here is a summary of exciting and promising items featured at this years CES for your smart home.

Straight off the bat, let’s talk smart assistant integrations. One of the well-known smart home companies Netamo has turned to Facebook to interact with your smart home. The free chatbot available through Facebook Messenger service made to respond to your queries with your home or out and about. The Netamo smart home devices already integrate with Siri, Alexa and Google assistants but have now expanded to Facebook messaging service to allow for greater mobility and privacy. Such as using it in places where you can’t or wouldn’t want to use a voice command instead you can type out questions to the smart home bot.

Favorite lock company Schlage, a manufacturer of Smart Lock, adds extra connectivity to the sense deadbolt. Previously compatible with Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit, the ‘Sense Deadbolt’ is now able to connect with Google assistant on Android devices and IOS with an added adaptor which cost about $90.

The company making the most significant headlines from this years event was of course Samsung. Samsung had a few big ticket items to reveal the most interesting being at a micro LED TV. With 4K TV resolution still big slide for many Aussie households, Samsung has gone up the game.

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Of course, it’s far from groundbreaking, with the first TV’s in 8K Revolution being worked on around 2015 Samsung is one of the three major manufacturers to bring 8k tv out to the Western consumer demographic, which is a big turning point, as most Hollywood films still film in 6K. The fact the notable films haven’t caught up yet leaves little content available in 8K as of yet, Only in Korea or Japan which has had a few broadcast in 8K so far, and have also hinted that the Winter Olympics and potentially the Japan 2020 Olympics will be broadcasting in 8K. Call the wall for obvious reasons the 8K TV is an enormous 168-inch bezel-less television- it is basically a jumbotron for your home.

Samsung also provided a first look for other 8K TVs at CES 2018 featuring Q LED display and AI technology. Samsung says the AI technology upscale standard definition content to 8K resolution using an algorithm that adjusts the screen resolution based on picture quality characteristics of each scene. Which reminds me of something Google’s Rick Osterloh explained in October. To simplify, we are at a technological impasse, and AI will be the will be the only way of improving further advancements.

Taking a step up from AI technology, Samsung also announced that their 2018 series of televisions would feature their own smart assistant Bixby.which will integrate with the connected home and Samsung SmartThings even more. This isn’t exactly big news for Australians as Samsung has yet to bring out smart things to Australia – still, no word when or if this will happen.

While we are on the subject of TV’s Samsung has focused on size, and LG focused on user flexibility… sorry TV flexibility.

Yep that’s right LG have featured a flexible display TV that can roll up and be tucked away in the base when not in use sort of like a projector screen. LG’s concept TV has been demo’s at previous CES, and in 2017 released a wallpaper tv (which is thinner than a BIC pen), but this is an impressive feat none the less as it’s still a 65 inch 4K OLED display that is flexible.

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Okay, so let’s get to the reason your here.  VOICE ASSISTANTS!! How would you like one in your car?

Byton electric announced at CES 2018 their latest concept SUV at CES and it should be available in Asia in 2019 followed by the USA and Europe. Still, the best news yet is that they’re coming down under with plans to release in Australia in 2021. Byton is aiming to rival the Tesla Model X and contend with established brands such as Audi and BMW. The SUV has smart features like facial recognition instead of keys, and the SUV also features a first in automotive technology. a massive 49-inch stretch display in the dash of the cabin. 

(check out the video to the left to get to low down on some of the more interesting features) Byton said they have been working with voice control technology alongside Amazon, and together they have integrated the well known smart assistant into the car. They plan the SUV will be significantly cheaper than the Tesla model x.

Amazon Alexa on the road seems to be a popular choice lately with Anker releasing their latest device called Roav(pictured left). Similar to the Garmin speak, Roav is a voice commanded automotive Amazon Alexa. Having Alexa in the car will be so helpful. Especially taking into consideration the strict (but necessary) road rules on device usage. hypothetically you could control many aspects of your drive through voice command in a device that is 1/4 the size of the Alexa Echo.  Anker does intend on releasing the Roav globally but are releasing in the states first.

Both Toyota and Lexus confirm that the Amazon Alexa voice assistant will be in the USA cars later this year.

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Smart homes are going to be more than just security and media rooms with CES 2018 exhibitors promising Alexa in the bathroom and Bixby and Google in the kitchen.

The star in the Smart Kitchen is the Ovie Smarterware that will let you know when your leftovers I have gone bad with an Amazon Echo or Google assistant you can tell your assistant what is in a container and it will tell you when it’s off. Quite handy if you are a household that seems to never have room in the fridge. Estimated to be about 75 Australian dollars for a pack of 3 and its functionality is similar to that seen in the Samsung family hub fridge but can attach to your pre-existing Tupperware.

Speaking of the Samsung family hub fridge Samsung have brought out the next model with some important updates and the addition of their voice assistant Bixby. The family hub fridge made it’s first appearance at CES 2016 but will now offer a wider range of features including syncing up food storage keeping it family members better connected and organised with a Bigger screen and AKG speakers with Bixby and AI built-in not only can you get your morning briefing you can also have recommended recipes as to what is in your fridge. The family hub will truly become a family hub allowing you to control your smart home from the kitchen.

Samsung made a promise to have its range of Internet of things products ready by 2020. Even demonstrated CES was Samsung’s new quick drive washing machine that is also smart things capable. But instead of displaying each product on stage Kim Hyunsuk spent most of the hour on stage explaining the vision for the future and trying to rename IOT to the ‘intelligence of things’. Claiming it’s one thing to have a connected home but for the future, we need to have an intelligent home.

Moving into the bathroom of the future, companies Moen, Elmer and Kohler have found a way to integrate Amazon Alexa into your bathroom. With Elmer creating a shower that you can control with Alexa commands such as the temperature, playing your morning briefing. And Kohler has been designing an entire bathroom range that can be controlled by Amazon Alexa commands such as running a bath or setting the water to a certain temperature even flushing the toilet for you. Moen’s Products feature a more family-based element with different settings in memory, and even an Amazon Alexa hub built into the mirrors (you can learn more on these products below in the video from Digital Trends)

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No mention yet on whether any of the ‘connected bathrooms’ will be available in Australia as is with many of the new CES products, both being a preview/concept show, and the fact that we are still waiting to see how Amazon Alexa takes off in Australia which will dictate how many products I brought down under.

SO, that’s not everything from CES 2018 but that’s as much as we’re going to cover if you would like to read more on these products or any others that we didn’t cover we suggest you check out CNET for a broader look at products and gadgets or you can watch the live streams and videos straight from CES TV. If there is something amazing you have heard about or seen from CES, let us know in the comments below.

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live.ces.tech/category/videos/all-livestreaming-content | www.cnet.com/ces/ | www.digitaltrends.com/home/kohler-verdera-mirror-ces-2018/

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Samsung’s ongoing fight to make bixby relevant

Fridges, Phones and Televisions. Samsung are sprinkling a bit of BIXBY into the recipe for all there new big tech items.

At the CES 2018 convention in Las Vegas, Samsung has announced that the 2018 range of televisions will include their smart assistant BIXBY, to allow home connectivity and smart home interaction. This is to go hand in hand with Samsung SmartThings technology platform.

In regards to televisions and SmartThings, Samsung have been working on an app for easy setup and lets the TV serve as the hub to control SmartThings smart home devices, as well as the BIXBY voice assistant into the already “smart” televisions, which is going against the grain with most mainstream TV manufacturers teaming up with google or amazon for their smart assistant. Samsung is of course sticking to their own. which has yet to show anything promising.

Alongside TV’s and phones. Samsung has injected BIXBY into their smart fridges which while this isn’t new, the smart fridge now has added functionality int he SmartThings app allowing bixby voice control in the fridge and the ability to control the houses smart things devices, as well as keep an eye on whats in your fridge. it has been mentioned that Samsung are looking to increase the functionality of screen mirroring already available in the smart fridge, to include phone mirroring too.

Speaking of smart things devices. washing machines, yep Samsung has that too. the newest of which they claim is now smart things compatible. (but no bixby … yet)

it is questionable what on the list of available technology and features will be working in Australia, as down under is yet to be graced with SmartThings line of tech.

To read more about the gadgets and electronics to be featured at CES 2018 CLICK HERE

Google Addresses Crippled Home Mini

Google has rolled out its first “fix” after disabling touch functions following reports that the touch functions were causing the Google Home Mini Device to be stuck in a  constant “listening” state. In What many were claiming was the result of google spying on users day to day life.

“Once Google was aware of the situation they ran a software update PERMANENTLY disabling the touch controls feature on all Google Home Mini’s.”

Google originally addressed the discovery with rolling out a patch that they said would permanently disable touch functions on the device, but it appears this was just to cover themselves as the roll out of firmware v 1.29 will bring back some touch functions like pause/play with is accessed from a side tap.

To find out when your next Google Home firmware update is CLICK HERE

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