The best way to put Alexa in every room of your house

CES 2017 wrapped up last week and while there was plenty to talk about at the event, there’s no question that Amazon Alexa was the star of the show. Third-party companies are integrating Alexa into anything and everything they can, from cars and refrigerators to phones and of course speakers. We definitely saw a lot of great Alexa-enabled gadgets unveiled in Las Vegas this year, but if you want hands-free access to Amazon’s voice controlled assistant in every room of your house, there’s still only one gadget that has you covered better than all the rest: Amazon’s Echo Dot . Some highlights from the product page: Echo Dot (2nd Generation) is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more Connects to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Controls lights, fans, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee, and others Hears you from across the room with 7 far-field microphones for hands-free control, even in noisy environments or while playing music Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Domino’s, and more Amazon Echo is not required to use Echo Dot
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Not all of Steve Jobs’s iPhone ideas were revolutionary

Pundits keep asking themselves what Steve Jobs would do every time Apple makes a questionable move. But not everything Apple’s visionary leader imagined about the iPhone actually made it into the final product — and that’s really a very good thing, because the iPhone that we know and love may have had an entirely different look and software experience. After a couple of videos leaks showed us alleged prototypes of the original iPhone, running competing UI designs, former iPod guru Tony Fadell, who actually worked on the first iPhone while at Apple, revealed some of the things that happened during development. That includes some of peculiar requests Jobs had for the engineering teams that were working on the product. After Sonny Dickson had released a couple of videos showing an original iPhone design based on the iPhone, Fadell reached out to The Verge to comment on the clips. The former Apple exec said that everyone involved with the iPhone project worked together and that there were not two competing designs, as Dickson had reported. “It was a competing set of ideas, not teams, and we were all working on it,” he said. Fadell also revealed that, while the user interfaces in the video seem to be accurate, they never ran on iPhone prototypes. Instead, they were running on Macs without access to the hardware. It’s unclear who ported the UIs to the iPhones in the video, Fadell said. “Someone, somewhere ported that thing, and that’s why it’s shown side by side,” he said. “It was never, we never had anything like that at Apple when we were making decisions.” He also revealed some of the things Jobs wanted for the iPhone that could have changed the phone forever. “A lot of us saw very early on that you couldn’t make the click wheel work for dialing a phone really quickly,” the exec recalled. “So we’d say, ‘Steve, we don’t want to spend time on this.’ And Steve would go, ‘No, I want you to do it. Go and do it. You have to try it. Try.’” The problem with the iPod phone design is that you could do almost anything with the click wheel on it, except for quickly dialing a phone number. That device had a physical click wheel, not a digital one like the one in the video. The UI from the video was actually intended for an iPod that would feature a bigger screen in the same compact body. “We tried everything,” Fadell said about the project. “We tried having little buttons on the click wheel so you could click. There was a Nokia phone where they had a circular pattern for the numbers, in hard buttons, and Steve was like ‘Go make that work.’ So we tried that.” At Jobs’s request, the engineers tried to come up with an iPod phone that would have resembled the Nokia phone in the image above, and they worked on it for about 10 weeks before giving up. Jobs was equally adamant on the iPhone having a virtual keyboard — which was a great idea — even though not everybody working on the project was convinced of its utility. “No, we’re going to make this keyboard work, on the glass,” Jobs would tell them. Fadell also revealed that Jobs wanted to make the switch from ARM chips to Intel after the iPhone became a success. Thankfully, that never happened, and Apple ended up creating a series of class-leading ARM chips that currently have no equal in the mobile business . On top of what Fadell revealed in the interview, it’s well documented that Jobs opposed the idea of developers creating apps for the iPhone. He was finally convinced that Apple should open iOS to third-party apps, which proved to be a great decision for Apple, for developers, and for users.
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There’s finally a box that lets you control any TV with Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa is taking over the world, and you don’t even need an Amazon device to use Alexa anymore. Just recently we showed you 5 hot Alexa-enabled devices that aren’t made by Amazon , and now we’ve got another great gadget to add to the list. The Blumoo Smart Control is a tiny little box that turns your Android device, iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch into a universal remote that can control anything and everything in your home that uses a remote. But it gets even better — combine the Blumoo with an Amazon Echo , Echo Dot or another similar device and you can use Alexa voice commands to control your TV! Some key notes from the Amazon product page: Replaces your pile of remotes with your iOS or Android device – supports multiple users Customize for your family – add/remove buttons, create activities, set favorites Compatible with the Amazon Echo to control all your equipment with your voice (REQUIRES iOS BLUMOO APP) Complete control for over 250,000 different brands and models of TV’s, set-top boxes, receivers, sound bars, DVD/Blu-ray, streaming players, and much more
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