Google Assistant to be The Center of a Google Store Revamp

Google Assistant Logo

For the second time in less than six months, it looks like Google is going to be revamping the online Google Store.  A report from Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources within Google, suggests that the revamp will have Google Assistant front-and-center in the redesign where Google will sell their devices and those of sister Alphabet companies like Nest.

The move is in response to Amazon and their own digital assistant, Amazon Alexa.  Amazon had a two year start on Google when it came to personal AI-driven assistants, with Amazon still holding an estimated 68% market share with their Amazon Echo devices compared to the 25% for Google with Google Home.  The disparity has the Mountain View company worried and they are going all out to meet Amazon head on in the space.

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Today’s Deal Part Two – Amazon Echo Dot is $39 Today Only

Amazon Echo Dot

Here is another great Today’s Deal for everyone, especially those who use Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo devices already.  Today only you can pick up an Amazon Echo Dot for $39.  That is a savings of $10 and the pricing is good on either the black or white models to match your decor.

The promotion on the Amazon Echo Dot is on the 2nd generation of the smaller Echo device and these are new units.  They are not refurbished.  The Echo Dot gives you hands-free access to Amazon Alexa, the company’s Artificial Intelligence powered personal assistant, and allows you to access thousands of skills to control your smart home devices or other services.  The Echo Dot has 7 far-field microphones built in so it can easily handle being the primary device in a room.

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Amazon Debuts its New Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo 2017

Today, Amazon launched their new-for-2017 Amazon Echo.  The new smart speaker powered by Amazon Alexa was unexpected, at least right now, and it caught pretty much everyone by surprise.

The new Echo is smaller than the original, sports new wood grain or fabric finishes and supports multi-room audio.  The new Echo is $99 and available on Amazon.  Buy a 3-pack and you save $50.  It will be available starting October 31st.

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Microsoft Cortana Only Trails Google Assistant in Accuracy

Microsoft Cortana Personal Assistant

In a Business Insider report that was published today, Microsoft Cortana only trails Google Assistant in overall answer accuracy as well as the number of questions asked.  In fact, Assistant and Cortana were well ahead of Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa in both categories.

The report focused on the news from earlier this week that Apple is replacing Bing as the default search engine for Siri in MacOS High Sierra and iOS 11 and points out that the move, which will have Siri leverage Google Search APIs, will likely dramatically help Apple’s assistant in its use and accuracy.

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Amazon Echo Show Owner? No YouTube for You!

Amazon Echo Show

Ah, the love between Amazon and Google shows itself once more…. NOT!  It appears that the latest spat between the two giants is over YouTube and the newish Amazon Echo Show.

Users of the new Alexa-powered smart device were cut off from YouTube yesterday with a warning that the smart speaker was unable to play content from the world’s largest video site.  Amazon states that they are disappointed, laying the blame at the feet of Google.  Google, in return, indicates that the reason for the shutdown is due to a violation of the terms of service and that they made Amazon aware that Tuesday was the drop date.

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Today’s Deal – Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet for $149

Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon has done well with their lineup of Android-based tablets and their latest update to their 10″ model is quite impressive.  The new Fire HD 10 is available for pre-order from the retailer and this update is really impressive for its $149 price point.

The new Fire HD 10 has a 10.1″ display that renders 1920 x 1200 resolution making it a full HD display.  It is powered by a Mediatek quad-core processor that runs at 1.8GHz and is coupled with 2GB of RAM.  That RAM count is double of the first Fire HD 10 and should significantly improve performance, especially with multiple apps running.  Storage comes in at either 32GB or 64GB depending on the model but there is a MicroSD expansion slot.  That will add up to an additional 256GB of storage to the tablet.

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Microsoft Cortana Comes to Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon and Microsoft have been teaming up and it is for the benefit of end users.  The Seattle based eRetailer (and now grocery store owner) has announced a new skill for Amazon Alexa, the company’s personal assistant, that will allow you to access Microsoft Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant, from your Amazon Echo.

It may sound a little confusing but it is a big win for the some 145 million active monthly users of Cortana.  Essentially, it works like this:  If you have an Amazon Echo, you can say “Alexa, Open Cortana” and then give Cortana a command.  This will allow you to access specific information that you have in Cortana but don’t necessarily want to have to duplicate in Alexa if you are a marginal Echo user.

Eventually, both Amazon and Microsoft want to get the integration to the point where users won’t have to specifically call out Cortana but rather the Echo device itself determine which personal assistant can provide the best answer on-the-fly and leverage it automatically.

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