Apple’s HomePod Will Finally Be Available in the UK on the 9th of February

When unexplained delays pushed Apple’s debut smart speaker back from a 2017 release, Apple said it needed “a little more time before it’s ready” and promised an “early 2018" release. Now it seems Apple is making good on its revised launch window, as the HomePod will officially go on sale on February 9th. Read More >>

LG Unveils Voice Assistant That Ignores Your Questions, Just Like Real People

It would have been fair to call digital voice assistants the hot new game in town a few years ago. Now, that space consists of incremental advances by titanic companies pressing ever harder to make consumers reliant on AIs you already know: Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google’s unnamed, data-mining Assistant. Read More >>

It’s So Stupid That Digital Assistants Are Women

My smartphone is a sassy Australian woman, and my alarm clock is a nice American woman. When I turn on a new Windows laptop another cheery woman asks me if I’d like to set up Cortana. When I drive, it’s yet another woman that tells me to turn left. And when I’m cooking in the kitchen, Alexa’s sunshine-filled female voice tells me how many tablespoons are in a third of a cup. Digital assistants are quickly entering our homes and aiding in the day to day tasks of our lives, and their voices are almost all women. Read More >>

When Microsoft Shut Down Groove Music, Cortana Lost a Useful Feature

Despite its best efforts, Microsoft’s Groove Music service never really caught on. So back in October, Microsoft shut the service down and told its users to switch to Spotify. Unfortunately, that decision had some unintended consequences for Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana, which relied on Groove Music’s library to help people identify songs. Read More >>

Amazon and Microsoft Goofed the Deadline for Smart Assistant Cooperation

If you were one of the twelve people passionately awaiting the integration of Cortana with Alexa and vice versa, then I have some news for you. Both Amazon and Microsoft have missed the key “later this year” deadline announced back in August 2017. Read More >>

Samsung Smart Speaker, Huh? Let’s Talk

Yesterday, a report from Bloomberg came out saying that Samsung will launch a Bixby-powered smart speaker sometime in the first half of 2018. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since DJ Koh already told CNBC back in August that the company was indeed trying to put its digital assistant, which first debuted on the Galaxy S8, into a smart speaker. The timeline is pretty obvious too; I’m betting that Samsung will unveil the device at Mobile World Congress 2018 in late February before putting it on sale sometime in the spring or early summer. Read More >>

Alexa, You Are a Goddamn Prude

Look, you give me a robot—even one that exists merely as a screen, speaker, camera, and microphone—and my first order of business is going to be screwing with it: trying to elicit the most explicit response I can. But Alexa, as found in the Echo and new Echo Show, is not prone to being explicit. Read More >>

The Amazon Echo Show Is the Best Dumb Smart Machine in My Home

The first night the Amazon Echo Show was in my bedroom I had to carefully lay it face down on my nightstand. The display, which was cycling through my upcoming meetings, most recent news, and the weather, was simply too bright. It was like having a little super informative sun shining in my face. The second night, as if it knew, the Echo Show had another slide on its screen. “Try saying ‘Alexa, do not disturb.’” Read More >>

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How to Use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant From a Computer

Digital assistant apps of all kinds are on the rise, but you don’t necessarily need to invest in a smart speaker to start chatting to one: with a little know-how you can get Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant up and running on your computer. Here’s what you need to do. Read More >>

5 Things Google Assistant Does Better Than Siri

Good news for anyone with an Android phone that isn’t a Pixel: Google Assistant is rolling out to more phones, new and old. That means many more of us will be able to take advantage of Google’s latest and smartest AI. There are some things both the Google Assistant and Siri are excellent at—like pulling up emails or showing photos you’ve taken in the last week in a specific city (Apple really seems to be catching up to Google in the image analysis department). Read More >>

People Are Reprogramming the Galaxy S8’s Bixby Button Because It’s Currently Pointless

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is one of the prettiest phones you can buy right now, but it launched as a somewhat incomplete product. Bixby, the phone’s new digital assistant, doesn’t yet have one if its key features — voice recognition. This shortcoming wouldn’t be so obvious if only Samsung hadn’t included a new button on the side of the phone meant to launch Bixby. Thanks to some creative geekery, however, the seemingly useless button now has a purpose. Read More >>

Google Home Now Includes Unsolicited Ads From Your Friends at Walt Disney Pictures

Google Home might not be the most popular voice assistant to offer convenient information in exchange for reams of personal data, but it appears to be the first to serve ads directly into users’ living rooms. Read More >>

Nine Google Now Voice Commands to Take Control of Your Smartphone

Google Now is partly a portal to the main Google search engine, so you can ask the digital assistant anything that you would query Google for: the height of the Eiffel Tower, what six inches is in centimetres or even what’s on your agenda. But the app also integrates with specific features on your phone—here are nine commands you can use with your mobile. Read More >>

You Can Now Download Cortana for Android and iOS

Every mobile operating system comes with its own walled-off digital assistant. iOS has Siri, Android has Google Now, and Windows phone has Cortana. But now, Microsoft is giving all smartphone users some choice, as Cortana escapes (the sinking ship that is) the Windows phone and officially migrated to Android, iOS and also Cyanogen. Read More >>

New Toshiba Laptops Will Have a Dedicated Cortana Key

All of Toshiba’s new laptops will let you summon Windows 10’s Cortana voice assistant with a dedicated keyboard key. Expect other manufacturers to follow suit. On Xbox One, you’ll need a Kinect to use Cortana. Read More >>