At the CES show this week a raft of appliance and home electronics makers said they have added Amazon’s voice-controlled virtual assistant, Alexa, to products ranging from TVs to robot vacuums. For non-techies, CES is the annual Las Vegas geek fest where these companies converge to show off their latest and greatest gizmos and features to more than 100,000 attendees.
I recently watched Tony Fadell’s interview at Udacity on YouTube (I encourage you to watch it, Fadell gave a lot of good advices and great insights), and his take on voice recognition “in the home” was super right:
…our goal is to get rid of the technology barriers between you and your loved ones.
For now, it seems only Alexa can give us the right taste of what that world is like.
The company on Wednesday is launching a new subscription music service, Amazon Music Unlimited, that starts at $3.99 a month for a library of tens of millions of songs. That’s less than half the cost of Apple Music, Spotify Premium and other competing music services.
Here’s the catch: At that lower price, you can only use the new service on a single Amazon Echo device: an Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap.
To use Amazon Music Unlimited on multiple devices, including smartphones, you’ll need to pay $7.99 if you’re an Amazon Prime member, or $9.99 if you’re not.
If you have an Echo or Amazon Tap device, this may sounds good.
Last month, I wrote a news article about Amazon’s new Kindle base model. I preordered one, but surprisingly, my wife Anna bought it for me.
It’s my first time to own a Kindle device. Most of the time I read ebooks via Apple’s iBooks app on my iPad and iPhone. I only use Kindle app when the book isn’t available in the iBooks store (one of the limitations of traditional publishing).
After using the device for a week now, I decided to move my entire book library from iBooks to Kindle. Why? It’s about features. Here are the top three:
Word Wise shows you synonyms and definitions which are displayed inline above unfamiliar words while you read. So if you’re reading a challenging book, Word Wise will help you understand it more quickly. So the inconvenience of having always to look things up in the dictionary is over. But of course you can still do that if you need to.
You can check here to see which compatible Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps has this feature.
This one is a biggy. While Word Wise makes it easier to understand difficult words more quickly, to master them though is another story. Vocabulary Builder is the place where all the words that you looked up in the dictionary are stored. To review and practice them, just tap Options (the three vertical dots) in the upper right portion of the Home menu and select Vocabulary Builder.
You can sort them by Words or by Books. In Words, you’ll see all the words of each book in your library that you looked up in your dictionary. While in Books, you get to choose a specific book in your library and show all your looked up words in it.
You also have the option to review the words through flashcards. Just tap Flashcards at the bottom of the page to bring them up and select See Definition or See usage — whichever option you need. And if you think you’re already confident and can move on with the word, you can mark it as Mastered. Kindle then will transfer the word from your learning pile to the mastered pile.
Currently, this handy feature is exclusive on Paperwhite (2nd generation) and later.
Thinner, faster and more.
Good news ebook readers!
Amazon has announced that another new Kindle is coming this July. This time it’s an upgrade for the base model but with the same $79 price. It’s definitely affordable compared to other models like the Kindle Paperwhite ($119), Kindle Voyage ($199), and the only two months old Kindle Oasis ($289). The prices vary in power features.
Talk about powers — the latest Kindle has also something to boast for: it now has twice as much memory as the last model, meaning it’s two times faster. The new device is also thinner and lighter and it sports the “more rounded design” making it more portable and easier to hold.
For the first time, the new Kindle support bluetooth audio and now you can export notes and highlights from a book to your email (in PDF and spreadsheet form).
If you have the the Paperwhite model, the Voyage or the Oasis, you’re the man! But if you have the old base model, this is an awesome upgrade. And if you’re buying Kindle for the first time, you can’t go wrong with this one.
You can preorder the new Kindle today and the expected shipping date is on July 7. It comes in white too!