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You can now ask Alexa to play Apple Podcasts on Amazon Echo speakers

Apple has partnered with Amazon to launch support for Apple Podcasts on Amazon Echo devices. Starting today, Echo owners in the United States can ask Alexa to play any of the 800,000 shows in the Apple Podcasts directory.

To set up the integration, Echo customers must first link their Apple ID in the Alexa app. As well as asking Alexa to play a specific show, playback progress will automatically sync with all of your Apple Podcasts app across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.



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Alexa Guard now rolling out in the US: Echo alerts you when it hears sounds of smoke alarms and breaking glass

Amazon is rolling out a new feature for its Echo smart speaker devices called Alexa Guard. Alexa Guard turns your Echo into a mini-home security device. It will listen out for noises like smoke alarms going off or smashed glass, and send alerts to your phone including audio clips and quick access to a video feed (if your Echo has a camera).

Following a beta test last year, the feature will soon be available to all Echo owners in the United States. You can start using it by enabling Guard in the Alexa app.



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Amazon promises Apple Music integration coming to third-party Alexa-enabled speakers after Echo exclusivity

Apple Music integration with Amazon Echo speakers has been an interesting development. At first Amazon did all the marketing, with Apple remaining mostly quiet. Yesterday, we spotted Apple promoting the functionality on the App Store and also shared a new trick.

Now, Amazon has confirmed that it will be rolling out Apple Music support for third-party Alexa-enabled speakers.



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Amazon Echo smart speakers pick up Pandora Premium music streaming, Skype voice and video calling

amazon echo skype pandora

One of the great things about the Amazon Echo ecosystem is the ability to set your preferred music streaming service — not just Amazon’s. Starting today, Amazon Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled speakers now work with Pandora Premium, the personalized radio station service’s version of Apple Music. Amazon Echo speakers and screens are also gaining support for Skype audio and video calling just in time for the holidays.



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Apple’s rumored Siri-powered Amazon Echo competitor now in prototype testing – Bloomberg

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Amazon Echo speaker with intelligent voice assistant

We first heard suggestions that Apple was working on its own equivalent to Amazon’s Echo – an intelligent voice-controlled assistant in a speaker – in the run-up to WWDC back in May. A subsequent report suggested that the device would feature a camera capable of facial-recognition to identify household members and set preferences.

Little more has been heard since then, but a new Bloomberg report says that the product now exists in prototype form and has begun testing outside the lab …



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Amazon reportedly set to do what Apple wasn’t able to (for non-students): launch a $5/mo streaming music service

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Re/code reports that Amazon may be about to do something Apple tried hard to do but wasn’t able: launch a true streaming music service for $5/month (Apple was able to secure the $5/month pricing for students). There is, though, rather a big catch for Amazon: the service will only work on the company’s own Amazon Echo speaker.



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Opinion: With Apple finally showing Siri some love, have we hit ‘peak app’?

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Last year, I wrote a Feature Request asking that Apple give third-party apps access to Siri, and generally work at beefing-up both the intelligence and the capabilities of its intelligent assistant. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece pointing to the fact that Viv is exactly what Siri should have been by now.

This week, a report suggests that I may finally be getting my wish. Apple is said to be not only planning to offer a Siri SDK to all developers, but also building an Amazon Echo/Google Home type box that will embed Siri more deeply in the home through integration with HomeKit. We will, says the report, find out more at WWDC.

If true, the implications could be profound – perhaps even meaning that we’ve hit ‘peak app’ …



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Amazon announces Echo, a dedicated, Siri-like speaker system for quick information

Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Siri but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one, lol), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Hey Siri,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage, but music should work fine via iOS.

The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone and delivery drones, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these untested things.



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