In September 2016, a university student competition called the Alexa Prize was announced for November of that year.[174] The prize is equipped with a total of $2.5 million and teams and their universities can win cash and research grants. The process started with team selection in 2016.[175] The 2017 inaugural competition focuses on the challenge of building a socialbot. The University of Washington student team was awarded first place for the 2017 prize.[176] A second year of the competition has been announced.
If you have a handful of Alexa-capable smart home products, you can now set up commands known as routines. Routines let Alexa perform multiple actions with a single voice command. For example, you could say “Alexa, start my day” for her to start playing your daily Flash Briefing, give you an update on the weather, and turn on the lights in the living room. 

There are a number of ways messages can be sent from Alexa's application. Alexa can deliver messages to a recipient's Alexa application, as well as to all supported Echo devices associated with their Amazon account. Alexa can send typed messages only from Alexa's app. If one sends a message from an associated Echo device, it transmits as a voice message. Alexa cannot send attachments such as videos and photos.[49]
Let me preface this review by revealing a few facts about myself. I am male, aged 75 years old, and more tech savvy than most people my age, but if you can use a modern computer, and own one, you should have not problem using this device. IT IS SO FAR, MIRACULOUS, and intriguing! I bought mine about a week ago, and waited till a couple days ago to jump in with "both feet" and set it up. Even though I once did computer tech support for Dell computers, It was a long time ago now, and a lot of tech has evolved since then, and i have the same fear of new things as most people my age, though admittedly higher skills. I also own an Iphone 6s plus, of which I have mixed emotions. The Iphone is made by apple, and Apple's idea of "intuitive" and mine are very different. Microsoft is much better at designing "intuitive" into an operating system than Apple. Aniyway, You will need some type of connected WIFI device to use this product. (read that Cell Phone with it's own WIFI abilities, and Bluetooth built in) You will need to download the "Alexa App. " on that device to set up the Alexa products.
The next step in our Alexa flash briefing tutorial is to set up an Alexa skill for delivering the briefing. First, visit the Amazon Developer Console to create a new skill. Begin by giving it a name, then click “next.” You’ll be offered a selection of Alexa skill models to choose from. Select “flash briefing” from the list, then you’ll be met with a series of Alexa flash briefing options.

Amazon allows device manufacturers to integrate Alexa voice capabilities into their own connected products by using the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), a cloud-based service that provides APIs to interface with Alexa. Products built using AVS have access to Alexa's growing list of capabilities including all of the Alexa Skills. AVS provides cloud-based automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU). There are no fees for companies looking to integrate Alexa into their products by using AVS.[60]

Until recently, Siri’s only been available on an iOS device, Mac, or (in limited form) through your Apple TV. However, in June, Apple debuted its true Amazon Echo home competitor: the HomePod. Unfortunately, if you want one now you’ll have to wait—it’s not shipping until December. Still, we can make some comparisons about the two lines of products, as well as how Alexa and Siri compare as disembodied virtual assistants.
A New Hampshire judge ruled in November 2018 that authorities could examine recordings from an Amazon Echo device recovered from the home of murder victim Christine Sullivan for use as evidence against defendant Timothy Verrill. Investigators believe that the device, which belonged to the victim's boyfriend, could have captured audio of the murder and its aftermath.[82]
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Amazon developers chose the name Alexa because it has a hard consonant with the X, which helps it be recognized with higher precision. They have said the name is reminiscent of the Library of Alexandria, which is also used by Amazon Alexa Internet for the same reason.[12][13][14] In June 2015, Amazon announced Alexa Fund, a program that would invest in companies making voice control skills and technologies. The US$100 million in funds has invested in companies including ecobee, Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio.[15] In 2016, the Alexa Prize was announced to advance the technology.
One of my favorite features of Amazon’s voice controlled speakers, the Echo and Echo Dot, is the Alexa News Flash skill. Out of the box, it plays you a quick news briefing from standard news sources. What you probably didn’t know however was that you can customize your Alexa Flash Briefing with literally thousands of skills, tailored perfectly to the news you want. Here’s how it all works and how to set it up. 

He's also exploring, BY HIMSELF, different commands for Alexa. I've heard him ask her about the weather, baseball scores, etc. THIS LITTLE ITEM IS A TRUE GEM FOR SENIORS!! I love mine just as much & the quality of the sound thru the Echo is AMAZING for listening to music. I'm VERY PICKY about sound quality!! I have Bose speakers hooked up to my TV & have Bose ear buds as well. The quality of the sound from the Echo is just as good as Bose speakers!!
In the actual Settings section of this menu, you can customize your Alexa experience further. You can manage Amazon Shopping notifications, adjust what content you want in your daily flash briefing of the day’s headlines, and choose what sports teams you care about for your sports update. You can also enter in your home or work address to get traffic updates for your daily commute, and sync with your calendar (Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud) to know what’s up next on the day’s schedule.

You can create a flash briefing skill if you own, or have the right to distribute, original text or audio content that updates frequently. You should understand web technologies and have the ability to configure HTTPS, RSS and/or JSON content. The voice interactions for a flash briefing skill are defined by Amazon, but you must be able edit the format of your content so that the flash briefing Skill API can understand it.


The first of the Alexa flash briefing options to include is an error message. Alexa will read this to your audience if your briefing is unavailable. Next, you’ll be asked to paste the RSS feed provided by your audio host. The “preamble” field is a short, introductory cue that Alexa will read before delivering your briefing. Finally, fill out any remaining Alexa flash briefing options — frequency, briefing name, category/genre and more — and soon you’ll be ready to launch.
Google Assistant doesn’t have flash briefings in the Alexa sense — instead, you’ll be publishing your audio content as a podcast. This is a little more technical than Alexa’s process. First, your briefing will need its own homepage. Second, you’ll need to edit the briefing’s RSS feed to include snippets of code that are required for Google Assistant to recognize it in its directory — check out all the requirements here. Google doesn’t require setting up an Assistant action. Once you’ve included the necessary code in your RSS feed, your podcast will show up automatically within search results.
Audio quality may be in the ear of the beholder. The Wirecutter thought the Amazon Echo just edged out Google Home; PCMag, however, preferred the tones of Google’s smart home speaker. Basically: Both are comparable in terms of quality. However, if you stream music on Apple Music, Soundcloud, or Google Play, you’ll want to go with a Google Home over an Echo.
Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word (such as Alexa); other devices (such as the Amazon mobile app on iOS or Android and Amazon Dash Wand) require the user to push a button to activate Alexa's listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are available only in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish,[4] Portuguese, Japanese, and Hindi.[5] In Canada, Alexa is available in English and in French (with the Québec accent).[6][7]
With Echo, you can talk to almost anyone hands-free—no tapping or searching required. Use Drop In to instantly connect to another compatible Echo at home or send an announcement across Echo devices, like calling the family for dinner or reminding the kids to go to bed. Plus, now with Skype calling stay in touch with friends and family in over 150 countries.
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