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  • Spotify is falling behind on lyrics and voice

    Spotify’s lack of full lyrics support and its minimal attention to voice are beginning to become problems for the streaming service. The company has been so focused on the development of its personalization technology and programming its playlists, it has overlooked key features that its competitors – including Apple, Google, and Amazon – today offer […]

  • The Alexa-Cortana integration is now available in a public preview

    Microsoft today will begin to allow Alexa device owners to summon its own virtual assistant, Cortana, through their Echo devices, as well as call for Alexa via Cortana. The integration between the two voice computing platforms was previously announced and briefly demoed on stage in May at Microsoft’s Build 2018 event in Seattle. But the […]

  • Smart speaker sales on pace to increase 50 percent by 2019

    It seems Amazon didn’t know what it had on its hands when it released the first Echo in late-2014. The AI-powered speaker formed the foundation of the next been moment in consumer electronics. Those devices have helped mainstream consumer AI and open the door to wide-scale adoption of connected home products.  New numbers from NPD, […]

  • Startups should read this checklist before they go ‘whale hunting’ for big partners

    A top-four tech company recently approached the CEO of one of our B2B portfolio companies with a tremendous offer. This company wanted to discuss a $20 million investment on extremely favorable terms. This kind of deal is a classic "whale hunt," and most of the startups that engage in them are doomed to end up like Captain Ahab.

  • Security researchers found a way to hack into the Amazon Echo

    Hackers at DefCon have exposed new security concerns around smart speakers. Tencent’s Wu HuiYu and Qian Wenxiang spoke at the security conference with a presentation called Breaking Smart Speakers: We are Listening to You, explaining how they hacked into an Amazon Echo speaker and turned it into a spy bug. The hack involved a modified […]

  • Twitch is closing its Communities

    Say goodbye to Twitch’s Communities. The game-streaming service says it’s soon killing off this still relatively new addition to its site in favor of implementing a tagging system instead. With the changes, users will be able to filter streams by tags within a directory or across different games on the Browse page, in order to […]

  • Amazon launches an Alexa Auto SDK to bring its voice assistant to more cars

    Amazon this morning announced the launch of a toolkit for developers that will allow them to integrate Alexa into cars’ infotainment systems. The “Alexa Auto SDK” is available now on GitHub, and includes all the core Alexa functions like streaming media, smart home controls, weather reports, and support for Alexa’s tens of thousands of third-party […]

  • Amazon launches grocery pickup at select Whole Foods

    Amazon today is continuing to make good on its Whole Foods acquisition by introducing a new grocery pickup service at select Whole Foods locations in the U.S. The service, which is available only to Prime members, will initially be available at stores in Sacramento and Virginia Beach, but will expand to more cities through the […]

  • Amazon is working with the FTC’s fraud investigation against Sellers Playbook

    Amazon said today it is working with the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into consumer fraud allegedly committed by Sellers Playbook, a Minnesota-based business that claimed to help Amazon sellers make more money. FTC and the state of Minnesota announced today that they have charged Sellers Playbook and its owner Jessie Tieva and CEO Matthew Tieva, […]

  • Surprise, no one buys things via Alexa

    Some numbers published in a report from The Information reveal that very few owners of Alexa-powered devices use them for shopping. Of about 50 million Alexa users, only about 100,000 reportedly bought something via voice interface more than once. It's not exactly surprising, but it may still harm the narrative of of conversational commerce that Amazon and others are trying to advance.