It's been a hectic few days in the smart home world. We've seen Alexa's skillset beefed-up (again) with the addition of Alexa Cast and a new equalizer feature for Echo devices; Apple's reportedly going to make its HomePod a lot more iPhone call-friendly and those long-awaited, much-anticipated (?) Google Assistant display devices are now a thing - thanks to Lenovo.
However, there's no time to rest - there could be a new Echo on the loose...
Echo Dot 3rd-gen incoming
A purported, third-generation, Echo Dot has been doing the web rumour rounds this week - looking a lot similar to the regular Amazon Echo speaker, with a sandstone fabric wrap-around.
The device, which apparently goes by the codename Donut at Amazon HQ, is said to boast superior sound quality to the second-gen model... but that's hardly surprising is it?
There's no word on pricing or a potential launch date yet - but we'll obviously keep an eye on this and keep you updated.
Google Assistant ups its news game
From now on, when you ask your Google Assistant what's in the news, you should be able to get much richer, detailed analysis from the publishers you want to hear from - provided they use the new speakable markup code that the Big G has made available to them.
You'll be able to ask things like, "Hey Google, what's the latest news on Donald Trump from CNN?" and the Google Assistant will respond with an excerpt from a news article.
The feature is now available for English language users in the US and Google is planning on launching in other languages and countries "as soon as a sufficient number of publishers have implemented speakable."
Alexa playing the (far) field
Echo-spatial perception (ESP) is the tech that makes it possible to have multiple Echos in your smart home but only have one Alexa answer you. In the past, it's been on Amazon's devices only, meaning if you asked Alexa what the time is, you could get a reply from your GE Lamp, your Sonos One and your Triby.
However, according to a report on Cnet, Amazon's been working on a fix called Cloud ESP, which allows third-party Alexa devices to apply ESP via a software update. It's been rolling out for the past few months, we're told, and is now said to be on all devices with Alexa baked in.
"Alexa continues to become increasingly integrated with people's lives as she is enabled across more devices from a range of manufacturers," said Priya Abani, director of Amazon Alexa. "By automatically enabling all devices to take advantage of ESP, customers are given the best experience with Alexa across the growing number of devices and Alexa-enabled experiences."
In twenty years time a Jeff Bezos android will personally hand your parcel, direct to your door, in your swanky new housing estate on Mars. Until that happens though, we'll have to make do with drone deliveries here on Earth.
The good news, though, is that we've moved on from those shit concepts from pizza delivery companies and we're at least seeing ideas that could genuinely work. Such as this - Worldpay‚Äôs Drone Pay proof-of-concept, which uses contactless payment card technology to verify a recipient, with the tech embedded into a drone landing pad; essentially a smart doormat. Take a look at the video to see it in 'action'.
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