Another week, another Week in Smart Home, where we collect the news of the past week.
This week saw a number of new product announcements. - like the August View, which finally debuted after previously leaking out. It's a sleek and stylish smart video doorbell with interchangeable faceplates to match your front door.
There's also a new Sonos One on the way, but it's more a tune-up than a new thing. In the world of Alexa, the Alexa-powered Libratone Zipp 2 is finally hitting the US and you can now control your Roku with Amazon's notorious assistant.
But that's not all that happened this week. Read on for the other headlines you might have missed.
Apple wants to collect and analyze Siri complaints
Siri can be a helpful smart assistant, and it's certainly more useful than Bixby or Cortana, but it's still got some work to do to get to the level of Alexa or Google Assistant. Apple knows this, and it's taking more moves to improve it.
Venturebeat points out that Apple has posted a job for a Siri Social Media and Marketing Production position. Essentially, this job would collect complaints about Siri and then analyze them, recommending fixes directly to Siri leadership.
The role will also work to push Siri engineers to support Apple's marketing efforts and make Siri a larger part of the company's marketing and products. The biggest thing will collecting and analyzing Siri complaints on social media and then working on coming up with solutions for engineers to work on. Obviously, the goal is to bridge the gap between Siri users and Siri engineers.
Speaking of Siri improvements, Apple updated some of its international text-to-speech synthesizers, which resulted in the improved quality of the British Siri voice. It's less robotic and sounds more like a person.
Alexa can now tell you which song is playing next
Amazon is rolling out a new feature to Alexa called Song ID. It makes Alexa announce the artist of name of every song it plays before it plays it. The idea is to help people discover new music, because sometimes Alexa's got a stream of songs playing and you won't know what you're listening to.
While you could just Shazam a song you don't know or ask Alexa, announcing beforehand gives you an interruption-free music listening experience. The feature is only for Amazon Music and limited to Echo devices. The feature is also optional, so you can ask Alexa to turn it on or off as and when you want it.
Smart speakers see big growth as privacy becomes a top concern
People keep buying smart speakers. The smart speaker install base rose from 47.3 million in January 2018 to 66.4 million in January 2019 - a 39% increase, according to a new survey by Voicebot. The two big names in smart speakers are still Amazon and Google, thanks to the ever-affordable Echo Dot and Home Mini.
Amazon maintained its marketshare lead, though it did dip a little. In 2018, Amazon held 71.9% marketshare while Google held 18.4%. In 2019, Amazon holds 61.1% while Google holds 23.9%. The other category, which includes Apple's HomePod and the Sonos One, grew from 9.7% last year to 15% this year.
Interestingly, using smart speakers has also made people use their phone's assistants more, according to the survey. 39.8% of smart speaker owners use smart assistants on their phone daily, while 19.1% of non-smart speaker owners use phone smart assistants. On the reverse side, 49.3% of non-speaker owners rarely use their phone's assistant, while 26.8% of smart speaker owners rare use phone assistants.
However, a PCMag survey found that the number one consumer concern before buying a smart home product is privacy, with 40% of respondents making that their top choice. Number two is cost and three is installation. The final two concerns were choosing a product (17%) and connecting to other devices (12%).
Jibo bows out with a dance
Jibo was a $900 connected personal assistant robot that could tell you stories, take pictures and more. But it also came out as Amazon's Alexa and Echo devices started to explode and got left by the wayside. The servers running Jibo are shutting down, and Jibo has been alerting owners that once that happens it'll be limited in what it can do. It then follows that up with a sad message:
"Thank you very, very much for having me around," Jibo says. "Maybe someday, when robots are more advanced than today, and everyone has one in their homes, you can tell yours that I said 'hello.'"
And then it dances.
The servers for Jibo the social robot are apparently shutting down. Multiple owners report that Jibo himself has been delivering the news: "Maybe someday when robots are way more advanced than today, and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours that I said hello." pic.twitter.com/Sns3xAV33h
‚ÄĒ Dylan Martin (@DylanLJMartin) March 2, 2019
Pour one out for Jibo.