Buying Amazon products using your voice is also a key part of the Alexa experience. You can switch on “Purchase by Voice” in the Voice Purchasing section of the Settings menu, which will let you make and confirm purchases as long as you have a valid 1-Click payment method set up on Amazon. If you have kids or visitors at your house who might abuse Alexa’s purchasing abilities, you can also set up a voice code to authorize purchases.
Amazon blamed the incident on "human error" and called it an "isolated single case." However, in May 2018 an Alexa device in Portland, Oregon, recorded a family's conversation and sent it to one of their contacts without their knowledge. The company dismissed the incident as an "extremely rare occurrence" and claimed the device "interpreted background conversation" as a sequence of commands to turn on, record, send the recording, and select a specific recipient.[78]

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.


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.
If you have an audience that cares about what you and you have content that you would like to share with that audience, Alexa Flash Briefing is an ideal way to engage with that audience. Whether you are posting your Flash Briefing hourly, daily, weekly, biweekly, or some other frequency, enabling your audience to add your content to their Flash Briefing is an easy way to become part of someone’s routine. Examples of Alexa Flash Briefing content would be updates from experts (health news, stock tips, political campaign news). See below for a more extensive list of examples. But the sky is the limit. If you have something to say and you have people who would love to hear from you, and hear your speak the content in your voice, Flash Briefing is ideal.
Amazon Alexa also offers a number of tools to catch you up on what’s happening in the world around you each day. In the Flash Briefing section, you can customize publications you’d like Alexa to include in your daily Flash Briefing, a brief overview of the day’s biggest headlines. You can also enter in your home or work address to get traffic updates for your daily commute. And if you missed a big game the night before, you can enter in your favorite teams and Alexa will fill you in on scores and upcoming schedules in your Sports Update.

As of this writing, Amazon has thousands of sources for flash briefings.  The sources they include can be hyper-local like your local news station. Amazon also has specific topics like tech or business, or general info.  Many of these sources, like NPR, are podcasts provided by Tune-In.  These briefings are audio files Alexa plays for you.  Other sources like the AP news stories are read in Alexa’s voice.  I wish Amazon told you which ones were audio files because her voice drones on after a while.  I hope I get to change her voice like I can with Siri.  Right now, you can just change the language to the English (UK) or German.
On November 30, 2016 Amazon announced that they will make the speech recognition and natural language processing technology behind Alexa available for developers under the name of Amazon Lex. This new service would allow developers to create their own chatbots that can interact in a conversational manner, similar to Alexa. Along with the connection to various Amazon services, the initial version will provide connectivity to Facebook Messenger, with Slack and Twilio integration to follow.[67][68]
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]
Now I am still learning about this product. Every new thing I try I am pleasantly surprised. I plan to get at least a smart home door lock and thermostat to use with it in the future, and several light switches. I am no great fan of the "RING DOORBELL" (due to frequently needed battery recharging) at this point, but I understand Amazon has purchased that company and will soon have an interface app available to use with the "Ring System" If you want to keep up with the march of technology, this device is probably your best doorway to that end, since Amazon is committed to pursuing it. Others may drop out along the way. (NEW) I made a hands free phone call to my son this moring as a test of the phone capabilities. Sound on my end was like he was in the room. The Alexa app and it's capabilities are evolving technologies. Features will be added. (Mine did an update download while playing music) Don't be disappointed. It is attractively packed, and very capable, but the "instructions" are not detailed and are sketchy. Lean about it online as I did before you purchase it. Read as many reviews as your eyes and attention span will allow, and take the plunge! An education awaits you! 
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