Archive for the ‘Echo Auto’ Category

Round up #190: Dash away, an unexpected benefit of Echo Auto

August 4, 2019

Round up #190: Dash away, an unexpected benefit of Echo Auto

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Echo Auto solves a long term problem

We’ve now settled in with having the

Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

in my Significant Other’s car.

I really want one for my car too, and we’ve put in a request, but that’s all you can do at this point.

The main thing my SO uses it for is music. I’ll use it for a lot more than that, but that’s the main purpose now.

It’s working very smoothly. I do turn off the Bluetooth on my phone when we are both going to be in the car…that car defaults to my phone. My SO, who isn’t very techie, did change the audio from Bluetooth to a local radio station, so I had to adjust that.

I pointed out (after testing it), that my SO could just say, “Play XYZ” and that local station plays on TuneIn. They did good programming on that: you don’t have to say, “Play XYZ on TuneIn”…it just works.

When we were driving home from the dog park yesterday, though, we got a really pleasant surprise.

Our now adult kid called…that’s a regular occurrence. They called just as usual, calling my SO’s phone number.

None of it felt different in answering it…but we realized pretty quickly that our kid could hear me very well when I was in the passenger seat! I drive out, my SO drives back.

In the past, using the built-in car audio system, the passenger couldn’t be heard very well: the phone pick-up was really only designed to work from the driver’s side.

However, with the Echo Auto’s far field microphones, we could both be heard just fine. No more having my SO repeat what I said. 🙂

That was really an improvement!

Dash away, dash away, dash away all!

I always thought the concept of Amazon’s physical Dash buttons was weird.

Here’s a company which is dominating by moving people away from the physical to the electronic. That doesn’t mean that they don’t sell a lot of physical products (“diapers and windshield wipers”, as I like to say): they do. It’s more about interactions and media (although they do sell a lot of physical media, too).

Sending you a plastic device which did exactly one thing (reorder a specific product when you pushed a button) just seemed like the opposite of that.

They just about gave them to you, usually crediting you with the cost of the device.

Well, they’ve been doing a lot of other things that seem to fit better to me. Subscribe & Save, which we use for many things, and ordering through Alexa.

So, you won’t find them to buy at Amazon now, and according to this

CNN story by Heather Kelly

and other sources, they’ll just stop working on August 31st…in a few weeks.

They’ll automatically give you

virtual dash buttons (at AmazonSmile*)

for any physical ones you have: that makes sense and will continue. You can just click/tap on a screen to order, or again, you can order using Alexa. If you use the

Echo Show 5 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

you can combine the two. You just say, “Alexa, show my Dash buttons”, and they’ll appear on your screen. Then, you just tap the white button of the one you want.

I’m kind of a big Daily Deal 😉

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is one of their big ones they do from time to time: 72 titles.

I now generally use sales like that to either put books on the gift list my family uses for me, or buy them as gifts (since you can buy it at the discounted price and delay delivery for the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print it out to give whenever you want). Check the price before you click/tap/eye gaze that Buy button: prices may not apply in your country or the book might not still be part of the deal when you see this.

Here are a few titles that caught my eye:

  • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte | $2.99
  • The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas | $0.99
  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa | $1.99 (also available through Kindle Unlimited) | I’ve read this one, and found it fascinating
  • P.S from Paris by Marc Levy | $1.99 (also KU)
  • Instinct by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  • Mycroft Holmes by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse | $1.99
  • The Cthulhu Casebooks – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove | $1.99
  • Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell | $2.99
  • Matt Helm – Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton | $1.99

“Alexa, send Driftwood to Bufo’s Kindle”

Alexa can now manage your content by voice.

You can start with, “Alexa, manage my content”. You can then tell Alexa to send a specific book you own to a particular device, or even to permanently delete a book from your library (there will be a confirmation message first).

To quote Manny Farber: “…context…”

Natural conversation is making great strides.

However, it still has a ways to go, especially in the area of context. When people say something, we have automatically connected it to a million other things in our heads. The statement doesn’t just stand alone.

That’s one of the issues with Alexa…responses can be very specific.

I saw that twice this week.

My Echo Show suggested I ask Alexa about what the digital assistant’s favorite book was.

The answer was good: I was told that Alexa really likes I, Robot, and was a big believer in the 3 laws of robotics.

Just to test, though, I said, “Alexa, who wrote that?”

Alexa couldn’t answer that one…some fan. 😉

The other one was using an Alexa “social bot”. Amazon does a university prize for the best chatbot. You can test them by saying, “Alexa, let’s chat”, and a random bot will start a conversation.

This one gave me a couple of choices for conversation: I chose Disney.

The chatbot told me a news story about Ice Cube and Caroly Rafaelian bidding to buy Sports Networks from The Mouse House. That was relevant, and made sense.

The chatbot then asked me if I wanted to know more…and proceeded to tell me about actual frozen water ice cubes! 🙂

No human being would have brought up the singer Ice Cube and then confused it like that.

I do believe they’ll catch up to us, but they aren’t there yet.

Have any thoughts or questions on these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

 

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Echo Auto: first impressions

July 14, 2019

Echo Auto: first impressions

We’ve had our

Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for about a day, so I thought I’d give you my first impressions of it.

The initial thing that struck me was that it is small, sleek, and elegant. That hasn’t always been the case with Amazon hardware. The first gens of the Kindle and Echo Show were…well, perhaps charmingly quirky, but clunky.

Second, the initial set up was easy. I bought the

Echo Auto Air Vent Mount (at AmazonSmile*)

which really turned out to be unnecessary, but I can see having one for when you want to temporarily put your Echo Auto in another car, such as a rental. Otherwise, the included dash mount is fine.

The only thing that gave me pause during the set up was when I was adding the device through the Alexa app, and it was showing me types of devices. The category of device is “Echo”, then Echo Auto is a choice…I kind of expected to see Echo Auto first, but this makes sense.

Using it in the car by voice was fine. It heard us over the sound of music playing and road sound. The only weird thing is that the “ding” that tells you Alexa is listening comes some time after it is actually listening (the lightbar indicates that), at least on Bluetooth.

It did everything we asked it to do: play music, answer questions, check the weather, find vegetarian restaurants nearby (it has location services), remember something and tell it to us later.

When using it, we loved it!

The one negative was that, on the second day, the one where I was going to show it off to my SO and explain how to use it, it would just not connect. We were in a RAV4. I think it may have gotten confused because I had my phone, which usually defaults into the Bluetooth pairing. When I had tested it the day before, I only had my SO’s phone with me.

After that, I couldn’t get it to smoothly pair…so we are using the Aux jack instead of Bluetooth (they include a cable for that). That seems to be great, but we’ll test it more tomorrow.

So, our set up is: Echo Auto magnetically attaches to vent clip (my SO prefers the vent clip); there are two cables, one to the USB power port (they give you an adapter for the “cigarette lighter”) and one to the aux 3.5mm audio port.

Those two cables could have been considerably shorter for us: it does seem a bit untidy to have them hanging there, even though there is a cable guide on the vent clip.

Having the magnetic attachment works well: you could easily take the Echo Auto with you out of the car or put it in the glove compartment…might be tempting to thieves.

A few other points:

  • You need the phone in the car for it to work…and you need an internet connection (not surprisingly)
  • If someone did steal it, they wouldn’t have access to your account, because it wouldn’t be paired with your phone any more (I’m sure that’s true)
  • It’s available to request for Prime members for $24.99 right now…eventually, it will be open purchase for probably twice that

Overall, I like it!

If you’ve gotten one already (or have questions), I’d be curious to know what you think by commenting on this post!

Amazon Prime Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

starts Monday!

One tip: if you aren’t sure if something is really a deal or not, you can check the Amazon price history with

CamelCamelCamel

You can do it right on that site, or get a browser extension (including for Chrome).


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get.

:)

Shop ’til you help!

:)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Check your e-mail! Your chance to get an Echo Auto may be running out soon

July 11, 2019

Check your e-mail! Your chance to get an Echo Auto may be running out soon

Big thanks to long time reader and commenter Edward Boyhan who let me know in a private message (Edward has given me permission to share who told me) that a limited time offer to get an

Echo Auto (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

had been e-mailed.

Edward had missed that e-mail…as had I!

I got acknowledgement that I had requested one…back on September 20th of last year…close to ten months ago. I hadn’t heard anything since, although I’ve definitely been thinking about it. I last wrote a piece on it in March, when Amazon released a set up video, making me think release was imminent:

Amazon has released an Echo Auto set up video…we should have them soon!

When Edward alerted me, I searched my e-mail for “Echo Auto”. I’ve been awash in Amazon e-mails, in part because of

Amazon Prime Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is July 15th and 16th….just days away. I simply hadn’t noticed this one.

The e-mail informing me I could now get one came July 8th…and it expired seven days after that, according to the text (the site suggested I had more time, but still limited).

This is still pre-general release…I agreed to receive an e-mail asking for feedback as part of that group.

I was only allowed to buy one…but I could make another request, which I have done. My Significant Other is not really techie, and will benefit more from having Echo Auto in the car than I will. I do really want one for each of our two cars, though, so I have requested another invitation.

What is it, and why would a non-techie get more use out of it than a techie?

They are really touting its ability to hear you…over air conditioning, road noise, and more. I use Alexa in my car a lot already, through my phone. My main use is to listen to text-to-speech…to have it read Kindle books to me. I jokingly say that driving is no longer wasted non-reading time. I can continue to do that…but it means I have to tap a button on my phone (it’s legal in California, where I live, to do a “one-touch” operation on your phone while driving, as I understand it). My SO won’t have to do that…they’ll just speak.

It’s going to be able to navigate, access TuneIn, play Prime Music, run Amazon Skills (I have four free skills of my own available as part of the Flash Briefing: Bufo’s Alexa Skills), make phone calls, and more.

I’m really excited about this, and I do think it will make a difference in our lives. I’ll let you know how it is.

The pre-release price? $24.99 (it will roughly double that).

I also added an airvent mount for $14.99.

I ordered it late yesterday…it’s supposed to arrive today at our Amazon Locker!

Bottom line: if you already requested an Echo Auto (maybe last year), make sure you haven’t missed the e-mail. If you didn’t request one, you can do that now, but I don’t know how soon you might get it.

Thanks again, Edward!


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog


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