The Amazon Echo Dot has never been cheaper than today's deal

We do love a good voucher code, especially when it makes devices like the Amazon Echo Dot even cheaper than Black Friday. Amazon’s massively popular smart device is getting better and better over time, and it’s never been cheaper to bring one into your home. Most of the time, you’ll find it selling for around £49.99 at Amazon, John Lewis and other electronics retailers. However, several stores this week have tried to push ahead and have been selling it for closer to £44.Only one store deserves your cash today though, and it’s Tesco. Using the TDX-GHWP voucher code you can knock the store’s decent £44 price down to £39. That’s the best price yet! We saw it briefly dip down to £40 in the November deals frenzy, but this is an exceptional deal to brighten up your living room, bedroom or kitchen with Alexa’s skills.
Tesco voucher code: TDX-GHWPView deal: Amazon Echo Dot (white) – £39View deal: Amazon Echo Dot (black) – £39
Stock has just sold out of the black model, but sign up for a stock alert if that’s the one you want. We think the white one looks great with that electric blue light though. With the voucher code being valid until June 6, there’s a good chance the black model will come back into stock in time.
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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The Amazon Echo Dot has never been cheaper than today’s deal

Nest Cam may get a 4K upgrade and enhanced zooming features

It’s been a while since we heard from home automation company Nest and its internet of things-powered gadgetry, though it appears it’s been keeping itself busy with a new high-resolution camera.Nest is reportedly developing a 4K-resolution home security camera to be announced at the end of the month, Android Police reports. Intended for indoor use (tough luck to those looking to upgrade their outdoor Nest Cams) the USB-C connected camera is capable of shooting footage in 4K — but with that comes a bit of a catch.According to the report, the image shown to a user is capped at 1080p, meaning that you won’t be getting a 4K-resolution stream of your house, per se.
“Nest, zoom in and enhance!”
Instead, the rumored new Nest Cam uses its 4K recording to zoom in on a subject (according to Android Police’s report, the camera tracks motion) while still keeping the image at 1080p. If we understand it correctly, the feature works like a real-life version of those security cameras in TV detective dramas that magically zero in on a criminal’s face without any noise or pixelation — which is admittedly pretty cool.That functionality comes at a price, however, as the report says Nest’s supposed new 4K camera will cost $300 at launch, which is more than both its predecessor or even its weatherproof outdoor variant.
Nest may release a cheaper thermostat next year as well
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Nest Cam may get a 4K upgrade and enhanced zooming features

Google Home will officially arrive in Australia mid year

During all the announcements made on day one of Google IO 2017, the global internet giant slipped into the mix the tidbit that Google Home, it’s popular AI-assistant speaker, will officially be available in Australia starting mid year. That date means it could well arrive before Amazon’s local retail launch — which may be when the Amazon’s competing Echo assistant speaker arrives in Australia.Google has also announced a slew of improvements to the Home device, including Bluetooth connectivity and hands-free calling. While Google has yet to confirm, it’s likely that this new and improved version is the one that will launch Down Under.If you’re unfamiliar with Google Home, the device is pitched as a dedicated assistant for the home, designed to help with simple digital tasks around the house – such as switching lights on and off, performing web searches and answering questions, compiling shopping lists, playing music and so much more.
Stop the imports
Australians who’ve wanted to purchase a Google Home or Amazon Echo device have so far needed to either import them from the US or purchase international stock from local vendors like Tandy (which was bought up by Kogan last year). But functionality for imported devices are US-centric, limiting what they’re capable of when used in Australia.With official local stock soon to come to market, Australians can look forward to getting weather reports for their city, traffic updates that aren’t from a foreign land and, perhaps, even local news.Australia isn’t the only country set to get the device – Google announced that Canada, France, Germany and Japan will also be seeing local launches starting “this summer”. Australian pricing and a specific launch date has yet to be revealed.
Want a quick catch-up on all the happenings at Google IO 2017? Here are the five most important announcements made so far.
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Google Home will officially arrive in Australia mid year

Google Home’s first big update brings Bluetooth and a built-in phone

Google might not have shown up with new Home hardware to Google IO 2017, but its latest software update will make the six-month-old Google Home feel like a new machine. On stage today at Google IO, Rishi Chandra, Vice President of Product Management and General Manager of Home Products, iterated four major changes coming to Google Home: proactive assistance, hands-free calling, Bluetooth and visual responses.While some of these changes will have more of an impact than others (you can now make phone calls from Google Home without a landline or a cell phone at no cost!), all of them will reshape you use the Home going forward. 
OK, Google, show me what you can do 
Let’s start off by covering the two biggest announcements first: hands-free calling and Bluetooth. According to Chandra, the way calling is going to work is that you’ll import contacts from your phone and then, when you want to make a phone call, all you’ll need to do is ask. The Home will make the call from either a private phone number or, if you have your Google account tied to your cell phone, using your own number. From the sounds of it, all Home needs is an active internet connection to make the calls – that means you won’t need a landline or even a cell phone to make calls at home. The other bombshell announcement Chandra made is that Home will now be able to use Bluetooth to sync up to other devices – a feature the Home’s competitor, Amazon Echo, has had since it launched and had so far been strangely absent on Google’s smart speaker. In addition to the Bluetooth announcement, Chandra announced that the Home will support the free version of Spotify, SoundCloud and Deezer in addition to the music streaming services it already supported later this summer. 
Echo with a screen? Home can use your TV
The other two announcements – proactive assistance and visual responses – while neat, aren’t going to radically change how you use Home.Visual responses, a new feature on Google Home that allows the speaker to send visual information to either your phone, tablet or TV, definitely feels like a swing at the recently announced Amazon Echo Show.  However, while Amazon’s device comes with a built-in speaker to show you events on your calendar or what the weather outside looks like, Google Home transmits data to whichever device you’d like. To demonstrate, Chandra used the Home to ask what he had in his YouTube TV library which was then displayed on the TV. Including YouTube TV, Home now has voice support for dozens of new streaming services including HBO Now, Hulu, Google Play Movies and TV and more. Finally, proactive assistance for Home will check what’s happening in your day in real time to try and bring you information before you need it. Home can warn you that there’s a traffic delay on your way to work, for example, notifying you ahead of time so you can leave earlier, or give you weather warnings – handy if you commute in an area prone to blizzards.How soon can you expect these changes to go live? Google didn’t have an exact release date for the new functionality, but we’ve reached out to Google for more specifics.
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Google Home’s first big update brings Bluetooth and a built-in phone

New Google Home features show it's keeping a very close eye on Amazon Echo

Google had a host of new features to announce for its smart home speaker, Google Home, at this year’s Google IO. From offering proactive notifications, to free phone calls (in the US and Canada), expanding its music support and offering visual responses to queries, Google is working hard to expand its smart speaker’s functionality. But what was surprising about many of the announcements is how closely they mirror similar ones made by Amazon with its Amazon Echo in the past couple of weeks. Google has been closely watching what Amazon’s up to, and it’s determined not to let the online retailer get ahead. 
Is there an Echo in here?
Proactive notifications? Announced by Amazon in a developer post earlier today. Phone calls? Announced by Amazon just over a week ago. Visual responses to queries? Sounds a lot like the Amazon Echo Show to me. I’m not trying to claim that Google is playing catch-up to Amazon in every respect. After all, Google has managed to integrate voice recognition into Google Home while Amazon is still fumbling with its multi-user support. But these developments show just how closely Google is keeping an eye on the competition and, frankly, it’s an amazing thing for the emerging smart speaker market. This level of competition between the two major players means that both products are developing at an astounding pace. Barely a week goes by without a new feature being announced for either smart speaker, and for the most part they’re coming as free software updates rather than entirely new pieces of hardware (Amazon Echo Show and Look notwithstanding). This is only partially about winning over potential customers, it’s also about winning over manufacturers, who are rushing to integrate voice control into their appliances and audio visual equipment. Both Amazon and Google know that they need to fight hard to make sure their virtual assistant platforms are the obvious choice for other hardware manufacturers. We’ve seen dozens of pieces of hardware already this year with either one assistant or the other, and this is only going to become more common in the future. What’s clear is that it’s impractical for hardware manufacturers to support both assistants in the future, and both of them want to be dominant. These assistants are nowhere near finished, but if development continues at this pace, then the future might be a lot closer than we think. It’s a good thing for the industry, and it’s a great thing for consumers. 
Check out how the two speakers compare in our guide to Google Home vs Amazon Echo.
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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New Google Home features show it’s keeping a very close eye on Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo's push notifications could be a game-changer for the smart speaker

If nothing else, Amazon should be commended for how it has continued to improve its Amazon Echo month after month with a steady stream of useful updates. Now a new post on Amazon’s developer site says Echo devices will soon have the ability to visually show you when they have notifications available. They’ll do this with a pulsing green light and a chime, which you can then respond to in order to hear all your notifications one after the other. 
A new world of possibilities 
Such functionality is long overdue for the Echo. The speaker could, for example, light up in the morning if there’s travel disruption on your route, rather than relying on you asking how the traffic is every single morning.Or the speaker could warn you if it’s going to rain, to save you having to constantly ask about the weather. However, we’ve got some reservations about how notifications will work on a device that’s supposed to serve multiple users in a household. How will Amazon prevent your housemates from being pestered by your news alerts, for example? Amazon’s multi-user support is still in its infancy, but these are issues that Amazon will need to overcome if its Echos are to become an integral part of the home, rather than a toy for just one member of the household. 
Check out our full review of the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot.
Via Engadget
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Amazon Echo’s push notifications could be a game-changer for the smart speaker

Google Assistant can now control a gaggle of GE home appliances

As Amazon’s Alexa develops new skills, competitor Google is turning up the heat by opening up its own digital assistant to more home appliances.Starting today, Google Assistant is compatible with GE’s Geneva Home control system, giving users an extra layer of hands-free control over appliances in their abode.Owners of Google Assistant-powered devices like Google Home and applicable GE Wi-Fi appliances can get more done around the house hands-free thanks to  a sizable selection of voice commands, such as, “OK Google, ask Geneva Home if the dishes are clean,” or “OK Google, ask Geneva Home to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.” From heating up water to turning on the ice maker to preheating the oven for turkey (that really is a command), Google Assistant can do it all.GE is among the first to take advantage of Google Assistant to help control its electronics, the company says. However, this isn’t the first time GE has worked with a third-party digital assistant, as Amazon Alexa has been integrated with Geneva Home since last fall.
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: which is better for you?
The types of appliances that will take orders from Google Assistant include GE’s Geneva Home-equipped refrigerators, wall ovens and ranges, dishwashers, washers, dryers, geospring heat pump water heaters and room air conditioners.As Alexa and Amazon’s line of Echo smart speakers continue to give Google Assistant a run for its money, we look forward to learning what more the search giant has in store for Google Assistant during this week’s Google IO 2017 developer’s conference, which kicks off today with a keynote.
Here are all the devices that work with Google Assistant
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Google Assistant can now control a gaggle of GE home appliances

Amazon Alexa will soon fill you in with voice notifications

Not content with just announcing a new addition to its Echo line of smart speakers, Amazon continues to upgrade Alexa to be your go-to digital assistant.Amazon will soon add another ability to Alexa’s repertoire in the form of notifications — giving users spoken updates from Alexa on what’s new across a selection of the digital assistant’s 12,000-plus skills.Like most of Alexa’s talents, catching up on notifications is as easy as a voice prompt of “Alexa, what did I miss?” or “Alexa, what are my notifications?” to their Echo or other Alexa-compatible devices.According to Amazon, companies like AccuWeather, The Washington Post, Just Eat, and Life360 will be among the first to update their skills with notification functionality as the feature begins to roll out to developers. 
Skillstreak
While Amazon doesn’t have a hard date for when notifications will make its way to the Alexa-using public, the feature will be opt-in per applicable skill and can be temporarily muted or deactivated completely at the user’s choosing.It’s been a busy growth period for Alexa, as Amazon also announced new skills like Google Account support, improved voice recognition, and taking your calls with the digital assistant within the past month. As for competition, we believe Google hasn’t been sitting idly by with its competing Google Home smart speaker, which is rumored to be adding some features of its own soon. Seeing as Google’s IO 2017 conference kicks off tomorrow, we won’t have to wait long before learning what the team behind the Google Assistant-powered smart speaker has to offer against Amazon’s Alexa.
How to keep your Amazon Echo secure
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Amazon Alexa will soon fill you in with voice notifications

Amazon Echo devices are getting better at recognizing wake words

If you own an Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot, at some point your device has overheard something you’ve said, mistaken it for the word “Alexa” and given you a wacky response to a question you never asked. It’s a weird, but somewhat ubiquitous experience for most Echo owners. If this only happen to you once in a blue moon, however, consider yourself lucky. For anyone who owns a third-party Echo device – like say  this is much more frequent occurrence … or at least it was. Starting today, Amazon is making the same Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification algorithm the Echo and Echo Dot use available to third-party hardware makers that will make it so these devices will only respond to the word “Alexa”. Here’s how it works: Alexa will start listening any time it thinks it hears its name, but it won’t formally process and respond to the request until the device checks in with cloud voice recognition software that it actually heard “Alexa” and not something that sounds like it. According to Amazon, the process is almost instantaneous and it shouldn’t slow down or delay Alexa’s response time in any way. 
Say what now?
In more or less words, devices like the Triby Bluetooth speaker (a device that comes with Amazon’s Alexa built-in) will no longer mistake words for “Alexa”. That will mean less frustration for everyone and fewer times you get a weird, unsettling response from Alexa for a question you didn’t ask. If this story sounds like it has the perfect makings for a comedy segment, you’re right. Too bad Saturday Night Live beat us all to the punch:

Via The Verge
The best cheap Amazon Echo deals for May 2017
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Amazon Echo devices are getting better at recognizing wake words

Say it ain't so: Amazon Echo will soon play ads

Well, the Amazon Echo had a good run as an ad-free platform – and all good things, as they say, must come to an end. The harbinger of the advertising apocalypse is a company called VoiceLabs and its plan is to tack on 6 to 15-second advertisements at the beginning and end of some Alexa skills. The platform helps advertisers setup “Sponsored Messages” and, according to VoiceLabs, users have generally not minded the interruption. It’s VoiceLabs’ goal to make the advertisements brief and unobtrusive for most users, but also “lead a consumer into an experience or converse with the consumer as they exit.”Yep, conversational advertisements are now a thing apparently.So far, however, only two noteworthy companies have signed on to participate in VoiceLabs’ tests: Wendy’s (an American fast-food chain) and ESPN. So which apps can you expect to hear these ads on? So far Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly and a few other developers have signed on board.
How’s this going to work? 
Well, say you’re using one of the 327 sports skills on Amazon Echo or the Amazon Echo Dot. At the beginning of the skill, you might hear an ad that says “Welcome, thanks for listening and thanks to ESPN for sponsoring us.” So far, not so bad, right? Use the app a few more times and ESPN might inform you of a big sports event coming up before asking if you’d like to be reminded to watch it. (Though, from the sounds of it you’re welcome to politely turn down the invitation to tune in.)Here’s the good news: there are some very strict limitations on which apps can use Sponsored Messages – they can only appear in streaming music, radio or flash briefing skills and they can’t use Alexa’s voice to say them. What that means is the vast majority of the Echo’s 13,000 available skills won’t be a target for new ads … well, for now, at least. While you wait for that to happen, there’s always the Echo’s rival, Google Home, to consider.Source: VoiceLabs
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: the battle of the smart speakers
Source: Techradar Digital Home
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Say it ain’t so: Amazon Echo will soon play ads